Monday, May 30, 2016

Did You Know?

Was looking out for songs to post on Facebook about today's #MusicalBirthday's... and up came one song that was sung by more that one birthday musician. 

And what was even more striking... the song is about a woman - the woman of the month... the lady to whom the month of May is dedicated... a loving Mother... revered not just by Catholics, but by people of every religion... 

The song ' Mary Did You Know' addresses Mother Mary on the 'greatness' of her Son, Jesus... The song was written by Mark Lowry (lyrics) and Buddy Greene (music) and originally recorded by Michael English...

We possibly know it best from the Clay Aitken version or the Pentatonix acapella sound... But the #MusicalBirthday Stars who have the song in common are: 

Wynonna Judd (52)

The country singer sang along with her mother Naomi in the Judds, and also has a famous sibling in actress sister, Ashley.

Wynonna has featured in the recording of the song by country superstar, Kenny Rogers. Have a listen...

Cee Lo Green (42)

Born ten years later than Wynonna, Thomas Callaway better known as Cee Lo Green features in the 2012 album, Cee Lo's Magic Moment and is part of the closing credits to the 20th Century Fox movie Son of God.

Tomorrow is the last day of the month of May... and the feast of the 'Visitation'. Let us pray to this Mother for her intercession, that we may know Her Son better...

The Man Of 1000 Voices

What do all these characters have in common?

Think... Think harder...

Clear your throat... Take a deep breath... 

and start speaking...


Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble and all the others have the same voice...

The voice of Mel Blanc...

The Man of 1000 Voices

Besides all his cartoon work, Mel Blanc was a regular feature on the Jack Benny show in the late '40s...

And during World War II, there was the part of Sad Sack... got a clip of him with the Lovable Lucy...

If you like what you've seen so far... and want to know more about this man with the legendary voice... sit back, relax and celebrate Mel Blanc's 1000 voices.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Play me some 'Mountain Music'.

We've all gone for picnics and sung 'She'll be Coming Down The Mountain'. While the girl in the song is coming down the mountain, there are more songs about going up the mountain - starting from the nursery rhyme, 'The Bear Went Over the Mountain'.

A mountain, as we all know, is a natural elevation of the earth's surface rising more or less abruptly to a summit, and attaining an altitude greater than that of a hill, usually greater than 2000 feet (610 meters). And we've learnt in Geography, that the source of rivers usually lie in the mountains. If you ask a child one feature of the river and the mountain, he will probably quote Tina Turner "River Deep, Mountain High"

Which is the highest mountain in the world? You don't need to be a genius to answer 'Mount Everest' in the Himalayas at 8848 meters or 29029 feet. But even at that height it's not high enough. 

'Ain't No Mountain High Enough'. 63 years ago today (May 29), Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay proved just that, when they stepped on the summit of Mount Everest. And to keep the date memorable, Tenzing decided to designate it as his 'birthday'. Since he did not know the actual date of his birth, other than that it was probably around the end of the month of May, this was a perfect date. He actually was born anew on this date, which made him world famous for generations to come. 

"I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzing Norgay

We all face challenges in our life, and probably think of them as mountains. In most cases, we probably just making a 'MOUNTAIN out of a molehill'. When challenges come our way, the question is whether we 'Call It A Mountain'

Just a week before the 60th anniversary of the first climbers scaling the highest peak on earth. an Indian girl did the same. But this was a first in its own right...

How do we face the mountains in our life... Do we delve on them too much... or do we face them like the brave people on this post... and follow the advice that Mother Superior gives Maria in 'The Sound of Music' - 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain'


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Jazz... Born in the 1920s?

If you've read (or rather listened to) my post on International Jazz Day (30th April), you'd know just how Jazz was born. 

Today we celebrate two jazz greats, born on ThisDayInMusic back in the 1920s - a Sophisticated Lady and a Happy Trumpeter.

Ladies first! She was born in 1920 and had a career spanning six decades singing, writing songs and acting... 

Peggy Lee

Among her achievements are three Grammy awards, collaboration for the songs in Walt Disney's 'Lady and The Tramp'... and 'Fever'.

That's not all about Fever. Besides Peggy Lee's birthday, today is also the death anniversary of the co-author and probably the first person to sing that song, Little Willie John.

The other Jazz musician would've completed 90 today. 

Miles Davis

Nine-time Grammy Award winner Miles Davis was a major force in the jazz world, as both a trumpet player and a bandleader. A top musician in his era that spanned five decades, here's one of my favorite songs, played by Miles Davis. If you're Down Under, where most of my family is... it's Autumn right now, and they're watching the 'Autumn Leaves'. Sit back and relax (or just lounge).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


What do the letters in the title stand for? What do they have in common?

Any Hindi movie fan would get that right away. I not the FDFS (first day first show) types. I don't watch too many movies either. The last few movies I've watched in the cinema have been Children's movies. But those movies in the title and some others have been special and not just because they have at least one common person in all of them.

I'm not talking about SRK (Shahrukh Khan), who starred in all the three movies but about the Director (Assistant Director and actor in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) who celebrates his birthday today, 44 year old Karan Johar.

Three years after DDLJ, he was on the writer's desk and the director's chair to create the biggest film of the year, and the third highest grossing film (to that date) in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Another three years later, I went to watch the next movie with the parents, my new wife, siblings and their kids - to a late night show. And the movie was an absolute blast with a few of the ladies shedding some tears during the show. 'Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness' - 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham' - Let's say 'Shava Shava'.

Getting out of the mould of love triangles, Karan achieved worldwide acclaim and success with a very different story focussing on autism, political issues, etc. in My Name is Khan.

Getting out of the mould of love triangles, Karan achieved worldwide acclaim and success with a very different story focussing on autism, political issues, etc. in My Name is Khan.

Karan is going strong in a production role and his latest flick this year has been "Kapoor and Sons (since 1921)". Ab ke liye... party hai... Let's Nacho.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blowin' In The Wind

How many roads must a man walk down... before they call him a man...
How many seas must a white dove sail... before he sleeps in the sand...
How many times must the cannonball fly... before they are forever banned...

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

Bob Dylan (as the world knows Robert Zimmerman) is 75 years old today... and that is one of his songs that has seen many many versions of it...

I like the harmony on the BBC performance by Peter Paul and Mary... Another interesting performance is this duet by Joan Baez and John Denver...

"If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I'd probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself."

Happy #MusicalBirthday 


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Synth Sound... and more

I started learning the piano when I was eleven. And quite enjoyed it. But as all good teachers do, my piano teacher insisted on practice. The nuns in the convent nearby offered us to come over there and practice if we wanted, but it was too cumbersome. We tried to hire a piano, but it refused to get out of the owners house. So back home we came.

And then the search began for an alternative. A young boy - a few years my senior in school - was the official accompanist for most of the school performances as well as performances from the parish children. That's where we first saw what would be my first synthesizer.

A family friend purchased it for us from abroad, and it cost a sum of around Rs. 3000/- quite a big sum at the time. With four rhythms and 9 voices, there was plenty of music you could create with this little Yamaha Portasound PS 3.

A good ten years later, the family was requested to sing for a wedding of a relative. We all went to work out the music and a cousin had this synthesizer with many many more functions... and Dad just loved it. It so happened that they had a friend who had the exact same keyboard for sale. So we went over to have a look, and it was a 'buy at first sight'. The Yamaha PSS 680

My third and current synthesizer was purchased when I was had just moved to Dubai. After a few months of staying with my sister, I decided to shift closer to the office in a studio apartment - that actually turned out to be my own personal 'music studio'. I could sit for hours working out songs and tunes, downloading and editing midis on Cakewalk on the Yamaha PSR 740. 

This synthesizer has been with me to many music performances, choir practices, retreats and more... in Dubai and Mumbai. Most of my music (including this instrumental) on my SoundCloud channel was programmed on this keyboard. And now even the kids use it for their own musical experiments.

Why this post on the synthesizer, you may ask...
That's because today we remember the 'Father of the Modern Synthesizer' on his #MusicalBirthday. Robert Moog built his first electronic instrument, a theremin - aged 14 and made the MiniMoog, "the first compact, easy-to-use synthesizer" in 1970. 

For the technically interested, here's the man himself presenting his creation...

And if you like that sound... here's an 'interesting' performance I remember watching and laughing to... from 'Friends'

"I was never worried that synthesizers would replace musicians. First of all, you have to be a musician in order to make music with a synthesizer."- Robert Moog

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One Year of Blogging

1 year, 

100+ posts, 

5000+ pageviews

A Musical Twist To Life has completed a year... 

Earlier in the week, I got a notification on Facebook telling me that it has been a year since I shared my first blogpost on the channel.

How it all started?

Was attending a Digital Marketing and Social Media Workshop at Don Bosco Centre for Learning conducted by Hitesh Motwani (a recent winner at the #SS30Under30 from Social Samosa) and was invited to write an article on any subject of my liking. After a little thinking, I wrote this piece on "Music and Math" and a few days later created this blog and put it in here as the first post. 

Music and Math

Over the past year, I've hosted over a 100 posts on this platform on a range of topics including Musical Birthdays, Commemorative Days as well as some personal and family moments. As we celebrate a year on this blog, I thought we could look at the most read posts in the year. 

At No 5

Music, Digital Marketing and CRM

In June last year, I made an entry into the field of Education teaching specialised marketing subjects to MBA students at leading business schools in Mumbai and Pune. My preparation work got me on to this case study involving music covering the subjects I taught. Not only was it popular on Blogger, but got me an interesting response on LinkedIn as well. 

At No 4

Green Songs from the Past

My second post on this blog was on World Environment Day (June 5), when I recalled some of the 'green' songs we learnt to sing in our childhood.

At No 3

Laugh Aloud - 75 times over

A mood-lifting post on a sentimental day - remembering my dad on his 75th birthday and first in absentia. Dad was the musical inspiration for me and all my siblings and always encouraged us to get the laugh out of life.

At No 2

Happy Friendship Day

On Friendship Day (August 2) I thought I'd use the power of digital and social media to wish all my friends from school, college, work and music circles as well. This post was an instant rage and resulted in a host of new connections for me.

At The Top of this Chart

Much Ado about Shakespeare

My 100th post remembered the Bard on his 400th death anniversary.

There's no way that this post will last 400 years, or even 100... for that matter. But your inputs and ideas would surely make me HAPPY. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pure Country

Keeping up with Musical Birthday, today (May 18th) is the birthday of a 'Pure Country' singer. 'Pure Country' is actually the name of his debut movie. The birthday boy is George Strait, popularly known as 'King of Country', who is among the most influential and popular recording artists of all time. 

'I Cross My Heart' from the soundtrack of 'Pure Country'. Well 25 years ago today, there was another 'crossing of hearts' at the engagement gathering of the best 'country guitarist' that I personally know. I was there because it was a celebration in the family - the engagement of my eldest sister to this quite shy and definitely humble musician. The new musician in the family was a cool guitarist who tuned my ear to listen and appreciate country music better, while introducing me to some of the best country music, I would never have heard otherwise.

My 'only' musical brother-in-law has just added a feather in his 'country' hat - a musical next generation that riding high on the Auckland Country Music scene. In the recent Auckland Country Music Awards, my eldest nephew, Keith Pereira won the Male Vocal and the Instrumental categories...

And as one thing leads to another... a news update... 

a TV interview... Rockin' The Planet with Shane Hales (along with another talented youngster, Kylie Austin)

a charity concert performance at Te Puke Country Annual Fundraiser...

And its only just begun...

Keep it up, Keith... We're proud of you...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Into The Teens

Thirteen years ago today, I experienced the 'Miracle of Love'. Standing in the 'labour' room in at the Al Wasl Hospital (now Latifa Hospital) in Dubai, I witnessed the birth of my first-born. The years have gone by quickly indeed and there are the host of memories in our minds, and on my computer hard disk. Spent the most of this evening browsing down memory lane and thought I'd share some of the musical moments on the way. 

'I Thank The Lord' has been part of the family repertoire since my own childhood days. We recorded this song to send as an entry for a 'Mother's Day' competition when Kaniel was in Kindergarten.

And thank the Lord, he did when he was 6 years old - happy to have a baby brother. And enjoying another song that's passed down the generation - Lucky Lips

There's a lot to share with a younger brother - including music. Where better to start than the nursery rhyme - Three Blind Mice

My younger son, Kendall wants to learn to play the keyboard. One evening I just taught him a simple riff on the keyboard...and this is what it turned out to be... Riptide.

Kaniel just loves school. While he misses the UAE, he's settled in extremely well in Mumbai even excelling in Hindi and Marathi. But a memorable school moment indeed, was being part of the 25-piece orchestra for the School Annual Day. Listen to the lead on the intro...

Another first for him has been singing a jingle... and even more so, in Hindi... check out the Horlicks Rap Ad...


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

American Standard 101

What is American Standard?
For most people it may be this... the American bathroom products company. For others it may be about procedures and policy, or ever weights and measures. But for the musically oriented... the term refers to the most popular and influential popular and Jazz songs of the early 20th century... songs that make up the 'Great American Songbook'... that have been sung by some great singers including the English (Robbie Williams) and the Scottish (Rod Stewart). 

And among the many contributors to this collection is a great composer and lyricist who lived to be a hundred and one - Irving Berlin - who is regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time. So great is his contribution to the music of America that the U.S. Postal Service has honored him with a postal stamp on his 125th birth anniversary.

To celebrate this great songwriter, I just thought I'd share some of my favorites written by him performed by artistes from his time.... till now. 

Come on and hear.... Alexander's Ragtime Band

Remember someone singing that catchy song at a singing competition a long time ago.
The songs by Irving Berlin have stood the test of time... and won a Grammy... as recently as 2015 for Lady Gaga... not alone but dancing Cheek to Cheek... with the soon-to-be 90 Tony Bennett. 

And as some of us prepare to go off to bed, we may be possibly counting sheep to help us get sleep... But Irving Berlin's song sung here by Diana Krall advises us to Count Your Blessings (instead of sheep).

Good night... Tomorrow is just a few hours away... and a special day... 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May The Fourth... It's Movie Time

May the Fourth... is commonly known as 'Star Wars' Day. 

That was the tune playing when Dad, Mum and five of us siblings (the youngest wasn't born yet), entered the hall at the Sterling Cinema in Mumbai for a family day at the movies, the first that I can remember. We set out with a bus ride on the top deck of the bus, that drove into the heart of the city from our home in Chembur. What a nice view at all the little people hustling and bustling down the streets of Mumbai.

No we did not go to see 'Star Wars' but I distinctly remember the loud sounds as the trailer of ' Star Wars' mesmerized everybody in the theatre. What we did go to watch was an English movie - a musical made around twelve years earlier, even before my parents were married. 

It seems an absolute coincidence that today is the Birth Anniversary of the actress who played the leading role and around whom the story was based. The movie was about this common flower seller in the London market, who becomes the subject of a wager between an English professor and his friend. The professor takes a bet, that he can teach her to speak 'proper' English and make her presentable in high society. 

If you have the slightest interest in movies, you would know that the movie was 'My Fair Lady' and the actress was the iconic 'Audrey Hepburn'. The fantastic actress is known for her singing roles in the '60s movies. I particularly like 'Moonriver' from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

Two weeks back, it was family movie time. We did not need to go right across town, but just hopped into a multiplex at the nearby mall. This time, it was an updated version of another '60s movie - also one that I saw in my childhood. '

Jungle Book' is doing extremely well at the Box Office in India, even in its fourth week. It was an enjoyable experience for the family, especially my son who just completed 7 earlier this week. He watched the entire movie with his 3D glasses on (he'd slept in most of the other movies we'd been to)... and added at least one new word to his vocabulary - 'Payback'.

The other song in the movie took me back to a singing competition where this lad entertained one an all with the 'monkey' dance on stage. It even had some kids dancing while exiting the cinema hall.  

What's your favorite movie...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

International Workers Day - Want a Work Song?

1st May is observed as International Workers Day or Labour Day in some parts of the world including India. While there is some political event associated with it, the Catholic Church also celebrates the feast of St. Joseph The Worker.

To celebrate all the workers, let's think about all the workers who toil to make our life run normally. Besides all the work they put in, they lighten their load by lifting up their spirits in song - Work Songs. 

Being in Mumbai right now, my daily mode of transport is the Suburban Rail Network. My regular station is called the Harbour line and extends to Panvel which is a good distance away. The Central Railway has just upgraded the power systems a couple of weeks ago, and on Friday introduced a 12-car train on this line. Every Sunday most of the train services on the Central Railway are 'blocked' to implement improvements on the lines. While the entire country was observing Labour Day, the railroad workers were in their position working. Here's my favorite 'Railroad' 'Work Song'. This version won the boys of Our Own English High School Sharjah a prize at an Inter-School competition, a couple of years ago. It's part of my collection since I had a part in training them, and also accompanied the group. 

Fruit is a favorite in my household. While the flavour of the season is the Alphonso Mango, the one fruit we enjoy round the year is the banana. While in the UAE, we enjoyed Chiquita bananas from the Philippines. Most of the bananas in the world come from the Caribbean where they sing this Work Song - 'The Banana Boat Song'.

Do you know any Work Song? Come on, have your say... SONG.

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