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Rajgopal: scoring for the hobbyist

Review

The key to your favourite songs

A pianist launches Notation Nest, a site to guide along hobbyists who want to play their favourite Hindi film tunes



S Rajgopal is sure about one thing -- Indians, like the Raj Kapoor of Shree 420, may wear Japanese shoes, English trousers and Russian hats, but deep in their hearts they love Hindi songs, and quite a few are eager to learn to play them. Indians of the globalised age may offer variations on that famous Mukesh song that defined us in the socialist age, and maybe replace those nationalities with more contemporary ones -- we drink American cola, eat Italian pizza and work on computers from Taiwan -- but they'll still have to concede that our love of song hasn't changed much.

That's why this pianist, who plays every evening at Bangalore's swank Taj Residency Hotel, has launched a website. Notation Nest gives you notations for old and new Hindi songs, and helps you play them on the guitar or the keyboard. "Hobbyists can even sing with their help," he told The Music Magazine.

You can log in for free, hear the songs and check out the words and the matching notations, provided in three styles -- the Western staff method that piano players read, the Indian sa re ga ma method, and the CDEF method.

And then if you'd like to go further and print out the notations, Rajgopal charges you Rs 996 a year in India, and 50 US dollars if you live abroad.

Rajgopal says he will e-mail a password within 24 hours of receiving the fee. Members are eligible for unlimited downloads of midi files, the words and the accompanying notations. The scores can be saved on the computer and printed out. In the demo area, you can listen to songs like Main koi aisa geet, Chookar mere dil ko and Dil to pagal hai.

Notation Nest is linked to sites in the United States that offer free software to read notations. Rajgopal has installed a demo version of a program developed by Cakewalk, a company that makes professional music equipment, to help people download notations.

Members can request notations for songs of their choice. Rajgopal's catalogue lists numbers in three categories -- opening line, movie, and singer.

Why only Hindi, we asked him. "That's for a start, and I plan to add songs from other languages in due course," he says. "There is no professionally managed site in India that provides piano scores for Hindi film songs. Since I am a professional pianist, I have made this attempt."

He hit upon the idea for the website after bringing out a book of notations. "I visited several sites that play music, and thought I should start one for Hindi songs," says Rajgopal. People can log into the site just to listen to his renderings of popular songs.

Notation Nest is no substitute for a good teacher, but it can guide along hobbyists with some basic knowledge who would like to play their favourite film tunes. Proficient notation readers may be able to play many of these tunes by the ear, and may find little use for a site such as this one. But Rajgopal is banking on hobbyists, and the nostalgia of people the world over whose dil continues to reverberate with Hindi songs.

Smriti Ananth

Read The Music Magazine's October '99 story about Rajgopal's notation book


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Media praise for your favourite e-zine from India:

*Well researched -- India Today
*Fantastic site -- Hitbox
*Web's best -- Britannica
*Superb coverage... worth tuning in to -- Rediff
*Classy -- Deccan Herald


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