Monday, May 16, 2022

The Sounds Of Joy

Strings, winds, brasses and sometimes just plain old whistling. Everybody has a favourite finger-snapping ditty that makes them happy. Here's a list.

The Sounds Of Joy

Strings, winds, brasses and sometimes just plain old whistling. Everybody has a favourite finger-snapping ditty that makes them happy. Here’s a list that we’ve culled from the universe of classical, folk and pop music. Listen up. You might just transit from euphony to euphoria.

Classical Music

  • Raga Jaijaivanti
    Sensual and full of abandon, this is an evening raga, that aficionados claim has almost a conversational quality. One of the most wonderful renditions is Pt Bhimsen Joshi’s Jhanan Jhanan…Paayal Baaje.

  • Raga Pilu
    It’s a light raga that lends itself to a number of thumris and bhajans, since Pilu’s notes bring about an undeniable feeling of happiness. One of the most memorable recitals is by Pt Ajoy Chakraborti, who sings Raga Pilu in Kahe nanadi dihi gari (Why did the sister-in-law swear?)

  • Raga Nalinakanti
    Nalinakanti is a raga of joy, and Thyagaraja's Manaviyalakinchara (Please heed my plea) is the best known composition in it. In cinema, A.R. Rahman's Kandukondein Kandukondein (for the film of the same name) captures this spirit as does Ilayaraja's Endan Nenjil Neengatha... for the film Kalaignan.

  • Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Ludwig Van Beethoven 1817 - 1824
    Better known as the Ode to Joy, this was the only symphony that could celebrate the most momentous event of the 80s: the fall of the Berlin Wall. At the concert in united Berlin, on December 25, 1989, conductor Leonard Bernstein swapped the chorus word Joy (freude) for Freedom (freiheit).

  • Blue Danube, Johann Strauss, 1867.
    There’s nothing as uplifting and exultant in the dance music repertoire as the waltz. Especially this one, by Strauss, the King of Waltzes, that re-creates the lively sounds of the Viennese woods, from the birdsong to the skip of squirrels, that he heard while driving through the forest.

Film Soundtracks

  • Colonel Bogey’s March-Bridge over the River Kwai (1957)
    Here’s one of those catchy tunes, which needs neither violin nor harmonica. We’re talking about the infectious Colonel Bogey’s March, where British prisoners of war used whistling, as a weapon of defiance, while building the Bridge over the River Kwai. Directed by David Lean’s this B&W cinema classic is also a favourite marching tune in schools.

  • Ina Mina Dika, Aasha (1957)
    Packing in plenty of rum-pum-poh, this Kishore Kumar classic is a guaranteed spirit-lifter. In terms of musical milestones, this was the first Hindi movie song to feature scat (a singing style used by jazz singers to string together meaningless words) sung by Kishoreda in a composition by Narhar Chitalkar Ramchandra, aka Annasaheb.

  • Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) 1969
    This rare song sequence in a cowboy western has Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, and Katherine Ross, as the girl with the flower tucked behind her ear, going on a sunshine-bicycle ride. As Burt Bacarach sings in the background, this romantic sequence ends with a bull charging the bicycling lovers.

  • Aaj Mein Upar, Khamoshi (1996)
    In spirit, it sounds almost like a desi version of that old Carpenter’s classic, Top of the World. And who can forget Manisha Koirala’s playful declaration that she’s got the aasman (sky) under her in Khamoshi, the musical by Sanjay Leela Bhansali? Delightfully easy to sing. For kiddies and adults.

  • Moodala Maneya Muttina Neerina Erakava Hoyda, Belli Moda, 1967
    Kannada poet-laureate D R Bendre's poem set to music by Vijayabhaskar, beautifully rendered by S Janaki. The slow-paced song has a serene quality and is interspersed with nature sounds. It is all about internalising the birth of the day. The refrain of the song refers to the soul's exalted state of happiness as light fills the earth at dawn


  • Dhitang Dhitang Bole
    A patriotic Bengali Hill song, that’s become a pan-Indian tune sung by Marathi, Kannada and Kashmiri speakers. Perhaps, its popularity is owed to Hemanta Mukherjee, who sang Dhitang…in Mehboob Khan’s Awaaz, while composer Salil Choudhury gave it a Latin tweak.

  • Biri Biri Bim
    Even though its become the most performed ditty for tourists in Goa, taking their sunset cruise on the Mandovi river, Biri Biri Bim, is still a trusty pepper-upper. One that can be enjoyed on the boat and anytime you’re looking for a song with an lively chorus.

  • Valav re Nakhva
    The rolling of the seas, the rippling of waves and the ability to keep your balance on a moving boat, this fisherman’s song in Marathi, celebrates man in nature. Enjoy, in costume, wearing a lungi and a vest, bandi.

  • Samov Karov Gindna
    Let’s get together and have fun, now that we’re finally together. Taking pleasure in the simple joy of company, this Kashmiri song celebrates the spirit of united Kashmiriyat.

  • Moodal Kunigal Kere Nodorgondiboga
    This South Karnataka folk song, sung by the legendary singer P Kalinga Rao is about the Kunigal pond filled with water to the brim after good rains. The song which is a medium-paced dancing tune goes on to describe the moonlight that dances in the pond and the happiness that it gives people who see it.

Rock Jazz

  • I Got You (I Feel Good) James Brown, 1966
    The funky hit by the godfather of soul, who’s lived on to become one of the most sampled artists in the American music industry. Its second coming was in Barry Levinson’s 1987 film, Good Morning Vietnam. Based on the true story of RJ Adrian Cronauer (played by Robin Williams) who used its feel good qualities to appeal to American soldiers.

  • What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong, 1967
    One of the most loved jazz songs by America’s greatest music icon, Armstrong. It’s opening bars and the simple unfolding of its lyrics and of course Satchmo’s gentle growl, makes it one of the most played songs at births, weddings and yes, even funerals.

  • 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) – Simon and Garfunkel, 1967
    Mellow and understated like the rest of their duets, the non-lyrical portions of this pop song get you, with a hum-along quality. This easy listening recording is one that you could pop in the car and play, either when alone, or when you’ve got cross-generational company.

  • Up On Country, Canned Heat, 1969
    Because in 1969 peace, love and happiness, meant one word and one event, Woodstock. Appealing to the flower children who wanted to go "up on country, where the water tastes like wine," this ditty by Canned Heat, become the unofficial theme song of the subsequent 3 hr 16 minute film, Woodstock. The best news yet? 35 years on, the band is still together and touring.

  • Don’t Worry Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin, 1988
    Ain’t got no money? Ain’t got no style? Then try singing a-capella, bopping your cheeks and tapping your chest, like Bobby McFerrin did at the 1988 Grammies, when performing this international chart-buster. Another of his incredible collaborations is Hush, where he teams up with the great Chinese cellist, Yo Yo Ma.


  • Ki Le Le, Osibisa, 1974
    Because these Afro-rockers were one of the few ‘foreign’ bands who toured India in the 70s and 80s, and even released an album in ’95 called Unleashed: Live In India. Full of chanting and clapping, Ki Le Le is simple way of enjoying life Africa-style.

  • Hawa Hawa, Hassan Jehangir, 1990
    No one knows when and how this breezy song by Pakistani singer Hassan Jehangir became such a hit. But one thing is for sure, rickshaw-drivers love this tune. Best enjoyed, in an open rick or when doing some coast to coast driving.

  • Dardi Rab Rab, Daler Mehndi, 1999
    Exultant and frenzied, this was the first of the Daler Mehndi party staples that still gets everyone on the dance floor. Skeptics be warned, this Sardar’s powerful singing is infectious and instantly happiness inducing.

  • Lift Karade, Adnan Sami, 2002
    This fat man can sing and make you dance with this great mood-enhancing anthem. Best enjoyed in its filmi remix video where Sami grooves along with Govinda, Johnny Lever and other Bollywood biggies.

  • Ketchup Song, Hijas Del Tomate, 2002
    For the sheer ridiculous-ness of this song and its kookaburra lyrics. These three Spanish sisters, managed to get the world shimmying to this Tomato-boogie. A damn sight than that other squawk hit, the Chicken Song, that forces to flap, and shake your tail-feather.