Sunday, March 18, 2007

(Half) Step Up to the Plate, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Today was the first day in a long time when I was able to drive with the windows down. Just because the windows are down, of course, doesn't mean the music stops -- or that I stop singing. Which makes me one of those people, I know, but as I can carry a tune, it probably isn't that bad to get stuck next to me at a stoplight.

Anyway. So I was rocking out to "Maahive" (from Kal Ho Naa Ho), and in the middle of it I suddenly realized that there was no post-bridge leading tone modulation.

I stopped the stereo. (The people in the cars around me sighed with relief.)

In all the Bollywood songs I could think of, were there any leading tone modulations? In fact, were there any modulations at all?

For the uninitiated, here's what I'm talking about: the vast majority of musical theatre songs (and "top 40" songs as well) follow a standard formula: ABABC(A)B. Or: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, (optional verse), chorus.

In musical theatre, there is nearly always a phrase modulation after the bridge (or between the optional verse and the final chorus), which turns the tonic of the original key into the leading tone of the new key. In other words, everything shifts a half step up.

Top 40 used to do these modulations but they have fallen out of favor in the past few years, even in cases where their absence is glaringly noticed (Natasha Bedingfield, I'm talking to you).

Bollywood seems never to do this. And I'm fascinated to find out why.


Sashi said...

A song to show otherwise.

Blue said...

Hmmm... it's in a variant of rondo form, but remains in C major throughout, unless my ears are deceiving me.

Did I miss the modulation?

Daniel said...


I knew I shoulda studied music...

I've totally noticed that about Musical theater songs as well as stuff by "The Divas" (for lack of a better term--you know--Whitney, Celine, Aretha, Mariah, BARBRA, etc)

I always love the key change in songs! It makes it *that* much more exciting!