Of composing in Urdu on the Sarangi


Express News Service

Last year, Sarangi player Nabeel Khan ventured into singing and after releasing two songs based on real-life incidents in the pandemic, he released a new song titled Tera Khayal Hai last week on his YouTube channel. “I feel my best compositions come from reality. Be it my first song Jaanejaan on the suffering of separation from loved ones in the pandemic or Jazbaat Dil Ke Aise on a couple who underwent the test of distance when the flights were not operational in the lockdown,” adds Khan.

For Tera Khayal Hai, Khan was inspired from a face in a naqab (a veil that only exposes the eyes) that he used to see in his imaginations. “The song is about an artist, who is stuck in a house alone in lockdown and has fallen in love with a [veiled] face. I didn’t know who it was, and it made me restless and I kept sketching those eyes,” adds the 21-year-old artist. He has used one of theses sketches in the video that shot in a studio in Hauz Khas. “And the director chose the girl for the video based on that, and designed her clothes based on my sketch.” The video was recorded in black and white on an iPhone “as dreams (khayal) are mostly visualised that way.”

Khan began writing the song in May, and it was tiring. “I took me two months to create the song,

Nabeel Khan

especially writing and composing it because I wanted the best words to be used. I use 80-90 per cent Urdu words, and it’s an effort to preserve the language. It also took me a lot of time to bring out the Sarangi pieces for the production as I wanted them to be unique.”It’s unusual for a Sarangi player to write and sing, but Khan broke that perception.“People think that songs can only be composed using the guitar or piano but I have tried to show that Sarangi is not just an accompanying instrument.” Composed in Raag Darbari, the song has been produced by Akash Dey, a music composer and multi-instrumentalist from The Netherlands.

“Bollywood mainly has Indian pop, and my genre is Indian classical. I tried to combine both for a fusion, by using flute, cello, violin orchestra, keyboard strings and bass, apart from sarangi,” he says. But he feels that classical music’s presence has diminished. “With physical classical events happening in the pre-pandemic city, youngsters were still attached to this genre but they have totally lost touch during the lockdowns. That’s why I make use of Indian instruments in my songs. I show the instrument in all my videos, because of which I get queries from those interested to learn to play it, which is good,” he says. Next, he is working on a Sarangi instrumental album. He is also writing a ‘happy song’, hoping to release it on his birthday in September.

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