Monday, March 16, 2009


Jan 31st, 2009 | Category: Personality

FOR THE first time ever Konkani songs and music will be introduced to German music-lovers and the credit for this goes to a music-loving German woman, Sigrid Pfeffer, The slender, delicate looking Sigrid, has made it her mission in life to collect or rather painstakingly put together as musical treasures to be introduced over her two-hour radio programme - “Music of the World” - for Hessischer Rundfunk radio station based in Frankfurt, Germany. She’s a sound technician, she confides, and she gets time to travel a lot looking for special music! She first came to Goa in the September of 2001, after a tour of Rajasthan.

SIGRID PFEFFER OF ‘MUSIC OF THE WORLD’ FAME: All set for the release of ‘Konkani Songs’ for German and European music lovers.
In Goa, in the evening, she remembers there were only these Western tourists at the bar of the hotel where she was enjoying a drink after a hot Goan curry and fortunately, they were spared the “standard tourism music” as the bar staff preferred to listen to their favourite radio programme! Suddenly, she was listening to a kind of music she’d never heard before - Goan Konkani songs and music which reminded her of Spanish music or music from Jamaica… “It didn’t sound like what is perceived to be Indian music to me!” The folk at the bar were only to happy to introduce her to the who’s who of Konkani music and Konkani tiatr and so began her love affair with Goa’s Konkani melodies and the songs of yesteryear, including those made famous by the evergreen musician Chris Perry and singer Lorna ….these two certainly made some unforgettable music together, even Sigrid thinks so along with her Goan friends.

AND so began her long and arduous task to understand and put together a collection of Goa’s Konkani songs and music into a CD for German music buffs. She met Goa’s noted personalities in music. These included Remo Fernandes who needs no introduction to Goans or music lovers abroad; and Shakuntala Bharne, a veteran of Al India Radio in Panaji who in turn played for her from recorded archives so that she got a more comprehensive understanding of Konkani folk songs and she muses, “One song in Cantara style reminded me of Italian folk songs to the accompaniment of mandolins, guitars and especially violins…instruments not rooted in Indian musical tradition.” She also met the Director of the Kala Academy, Dr. Pandurank Phaldesai, who was of invaluable help to her in making the difference between Hindu and Christian types of music. It was Dr. Phaldesai who clued her up about how Konkani was suppressed during the 450 years of colonial Portuguese rule and how it impacted the people’s music and tiatr… and well-known writer-poet-editor Uday Bhembre enlightened her about Goa’s lost Hindu past vis-à-vis Konkani music.

Krishna Kamat of All India Radio’s Konkani programme introduced her to Oslando D’Souza who told her about dekhnni music rooted in temple music which Sigrid finds fascinating in its pulsating rhythm… she listened to Lata Mangeshkar’s “Bobby song” and also met Tomazinho Cardozo for further light on Goa’s tiatr tradition. In more modern times, Goa’s music has influenced Hindi cinema music and vice versa. Sigrid then listened to songs from early Goan films like Nirmonn. Goa’s music history has adapted to changing times over the years as Portuguese and European music and Western music instruments came into Goa’s life and times. There’s Goa’s “Melody King” or “The Man with the Golden Voice”, Alfred Rose who, to this day, is a household name in Goan homes. He was born in Goa but lived with his family in Bombay writing tiatr and film scripts for Konkani films. He kept Konkani alive in the living rooms of Goan homes. Indeed, the heroic struggle to keep Konkani alive and thriving is worth recounting…the Christian missionaries from abroad learned it to convert Goans to Christianity and later it became the language in which the converted spoke to their servants, while they themselves spoke fluent Portuguese!

All this is reflected in what is a historic CD - Konkani Songs - of 22 original songs put together by Sigrid Pfeffer. The CD, which has been brought out by the Trikong music company, is due for release on February 27, 2009, for the German and European market. No, no, she corrected to a query, the songs are all in Konkani for she dare not even attempt to translate lyrics, that’s far too risky a thing to do to translate from the Konkani into English and then into German! And yes, even without understanding lyrics there are music lovers who will love the music and the songs in Konkani; in Germany at least there’s a great love for music from all over the world. The world is so full of musical traditions that the search for any one tradition is challenging. She herself grew up with music and she thinks she must have imbibed it in the womb of her mother itself… “We always listened to the classics and my brother plays the piano and so did I for a while…I love music, all kinds of music, it my great passion… and during my travelling I’ve come across so many styles…” It’s not just the classics she loves, “There’s was a German pop band called Blumfeld, it’s split up now…but it one of my favourite bands… they play rock pp but not the usual easy going mainstream kind, their style was called alternative or independent rock.” People still like to listen to it.

In recent years, Sigrid has taken a shine to music traditions in India. She visited India for the first time in 1997, when she went to Kerala, and after that she’s been visiting regularly. This time she’s in Goa to do a fortnight’s yoga retreat in Assagao and after that she’s going to Calcutta for week before returning to home in Frankfurt on February 19, 2009. She is coming back to India again and again for she still has to discover Hindustani music more intimately! Look out for her CD next month, Sigrid Pfeffer thinks that Goans settled in Germany and abroad will be interested in it, as well as Goans in Goa she hopes. She wants to say a real thank-you to all the people she met in Goa while researching her CD and while seeking copyright permissions, for helping her so patiently with information, history and translation of lyrics for her benefit… thank-you Uday Bhembre, Tomazinho Cardozo, Remo Fernandes, Shakuntale Bharne, Rita Rose and many others who eased the challenge of making a discerning music collection in Konkani for German and international listeners of music.


Tiatrist be original
Alfred Almeida, Vasco
Recently, I was reading about a story on Herald about the title borrowed by our Goan Tiatrists; Melody King, Tragedy King, Junior Shakespeare, Prince of Centuries, etc. To my knowledge only Jacint Vaz, Rose Ferns or Prince Jacob were officially given the titles of Charlie Chaplin, King of centuries and Prince respectively.
Alfred Rose was considered the King of melody. Today he’s no more and now Lawry Travasso has been crowned as melody king by his collegue Mario Fernandes. I sincerely do not have any grudge against Lawry or Alfred Rose, bur talking about melody, they are just good composers and good singers. Both have composed songs by borrowing tunes. They can be called good composers. As per my view they cannot be called King of melody as they never composed their own tunes or any melody. They kept on borrowing tunes from old English songs and popular Hindi movie songs and then added lyrics to them. I will accept Lawry as melody king the day he composes his own tunes. It is a shame that so many Goan singers come out with so many Konkani albums but all borrowed tunes. They are not artists but copy cats. In Goa we say that music runs in our veins, then why is it difficult to compose our own tunes? If the west can do it, why can’t We Goans?

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A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.