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Understanding the structured information of the music

This article is written by Nair. It was posted as a comment in one of the articles on

Lata Mangeshkar once commented about Rafi Sahab: Woh Har Tarah ke Gane is Khoobi se Gaate the ki Gaana Na Samajhne Wale bhi Wah Wah Kar Udthe the. This is not a mere accolade for a colleague. She had observed and convinced about a rare quality in Rafi Sahab that makes him stand out among others. In order to explain this let me please take a listeners perspective. I mean our perspective.

An ordinary listener does not hear a song in isolated units. Rather, he/she perceives it in a larger pitch and rhythmic organization. In other words, the listener perceives it in “whole”. However, a musicians approach is different, for he can perceive it analytically – I mean, he can mentally de-compose the song into its elementary components. This, however, requires knowledge of music and its composition.

The music composer normally organizes the music in a systematic way based on many complex features of music and textures it with contextual lyrics (these days, lyrics is the skeleton). At this stage the song is a compact structure and accessible only to music specialists. It comes to the ordinary listener through the singers’ voice. The singer first understands the structured information in the song. It is at this point that the real difference between a trained and untrained singer comes up. An untrained singer cannot fully grasp the structure. Now, a trained singer, who has grasped the essentials, can render it with all the complexities packed in the song, for e.g., renditions by most of the Ustads. The listeners perceive it with awe.

A singer like Rafi Sahab, who apart from understanding the complexity of the song, renders it with that simplicity that he makes the musical structure explicit even to the musically illiterate listeners (like Nair).

A few examples of such complex songs rendered with simplicity are songs like Aye Gulbadan, Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki, Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par, Tu Hi Who Haseen Hai, Mujhe Tum Se Mohabat Hai, Jis Raat Ke Khwaab Aayee etc. Rafi Sahab exposes every molecule of the song explicit that the listener understands and appreciates the structured auditory information. This simplicity of Rafi Sahab also enables the listener to recall the lyrics and associate it with a socio-cultural context in which the song is played. Now the listener, who has seen the wonderland of music, which was alien to him till then, in delight, says Wah Wah.

Rafi Sahab in his renditions takes care of the interdependencies between the structured sound material of the music and the listener’s capacity for apprehending. To acquire this quality the singer needs to be disciplined, organized, pious, humble, and above all trained in music; it’s a tapasya.

It is this quality of Rafi Sahab that Lata Ji has praised. Most of the Rafi fans are those who have experienced this feeling. It needs some effort from the part of the listener as well; no matter his/her musical knowledge. Only those who fail in this effort will say Rafi Sahab is inferior. Rafi fans are calling him God of music not out of emotion or blind devotion; it is with proper understanding of the divinity inherent in his voice.

Long Live Rafi Sahab!

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17 Blog Comments to “Understanding the structured information of the music”

  1. unknow1 says:

    Dear Rafik,
    I agree with that who singed for free it not mean that he or she is good,but when some one sing for all not only with big MD and help people and all who worked with him are happy from his work,what we can say about him?I agree most of u r points.

  2. Rafik says:

    Hi unknow1,

    I have come here to read and know the facts about HFM, it seems I am going deeper
    into a debate. Is it ? If you want, then I will honestly join and talk on this matter.

    I didn’t say Rafi doesn’t need any award, they gave him national award, filmfare award
    etc what I said even if you give an award after his name like RD award, Kishore Kumar
    award there will be no change. So why fight for that and say they shouldn’t give RD
    award ?

    Again some people say Rafi was a great man, why so ? I said and will say again:
    Rafi was a very good person and also a great singer. I don’t know who are talking
    about, but there is a difference between great man and great singer. Buddha was a
    great man, Mother Teresa was a great man, Swami Vivekananda was a great man.
    Pele was a great player, he was not a great man. Honesty/simplicity doesn’t make
    you great man, it makes you a very good person. Your sacrifice, dedication and
    devotion for the society make you great man. I see these in Rafi for his music, so I
    call him a great singer. You are right, he always sang without bothering the returns
    sometimes for free, does it make a man great ? Mr. Bachchan also played many small
    roles in movies and he didn’t take money for that. Do you say Amitabh Bachchan is a
    great man ? No. I would say he is a great actor.

    Talking about Classical and playback singing, I don’t compare them. When I want to
    listen to shastriya sangeet, I listen to Ustad Rashid Khan, Padit Jasraj. When I want
    to listen to hindi music, I listen to Mohd. Rafi, Mukesh. There is a difference between
    these two. If Ud. Aamir Khan, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi are not gods then who are gods ?
    I maintain a difference between playback singers and classical maestros.

    Hope, you won’t take it as a humiliation. As I said, I don’t want to hurt your feeling
    any more.

  3. unknow1 says:

    Dear Rafiq,
    As u said Mohd Rafi don’t need any award because I think he is and will be award for music lover for ever,when u have money you can do what do u want,I don’t know about music but what said by the people who know Mohd Rafi,he is not only a great singer but he was greater human as who know Mohd rafi they said,
    Do u know that mr Bachchan didn’t worked for KK in Free but Mohd Rafi did?
    we human we said that God made us all but why we say that we Pakistani are better than Indian or we Indian are better than Pakistani not we all made same God?as human when we see something greater than us(human)God made manythings only one Sun one earth and one Mohd Rafi.

  4. Rafik says:

    Hi unknow1,

    Yes you are correct. There were many MDs other than RD, there were many singers
    other than Kishore Kumar. Then why awards only after their names. But you see this
    happens everywhere. Not only in music, in many other areas. So, it’s not Mohd. Rafi or
    Shankar Jaikishan or SDB you like, it’s everywhere. Though they might have named the
    awards after other MDs and singers, what they have done is not good. At the same
    time, you can say they haven’t done bad either. It was because of versatility of RD and
    fame of Kishore. I agree with you here but you too must agree with me.

    In any case, why did you drag the names of RD and Kishore ? do you have some
    problem with them ? you may prefer somebody else, but the world has nothing to
    do with your preference and what I believe is: singers like Rafi didn’t need any
    award to name after him, he was awesome and he will be. I feel no change at all.

    As you asked “what is great than human?”, we have another word for this and that
    is great man, great singer, great actor etc. we call someone great when he/she has
    some magic, something that others don’t have. That’s called great.
    If people like Buddha is great man then who else can be god ? if singers like Ghulam
    Ali is great then who else can be god ? I will put everyone including Rafi, Manna Dey,
    Mukesh, kishore in great singers list. But they are not god or god of music.
    Please don’t take it offense, I don’t want to comment on them any more.

    Regarding your comparison with Tansen, he was a magic himself. Another singer of
    that era was Baiju Bawra. They are the highest and greatest of all times though
    I haven’t seen them, it’s just the books that described about their lives. If you don’t
    think he was better than Rafi, then what can I do ? Classical singing is something
    and playback singing is something. I don’t want to compare and talk about this.
    You go with your choice, you are not going to loose anything. Your choice won’t
    change the truth but it will keep you away from the truth.

    Still, I believe I am a big fan of all those singers of our HFM.

  5. unknow1 says:

    dear Rafiq,
    the Technology yes we have better technology than Mohd Rafi time but with this great technology we can get some one sing like Mohd rafi to better,Tansen was a good singer maybe that time and I don’t think he is better than Mohd Rafi.Look dear Rafiq we can write many thing about any one and make him greatest as did media for KK,(as I think only)I think there are many better MD than RD not they are giveing award in the name of RD?there are many great singer if we speak honestly KK will not in best 10 in bollywood.
    Offcourse we can’t compare human with God but when god gave us something that like a magic it can’t be compare with other human in this case we say that is God because it is better as human,what is great than human?

  6. petu says:

    Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki

  7. Roger says:

    Are Rafiq bhai, You are too sensitive yaar. And who we people don,t wanna know about you ? You are most welcome to join this site from our side. Yaar, what did I say: KI KUCH RAAGING HO JAAYE? Bass! You know you need not have to be so formal with us. I was just pulling your legs. any I would recommend you to visit may archive, Kishore-rafi saga- true voice of Rafi: and all these sections to get a rough idea of how we people deal with each other. Again I on behalf of everyone formally welcome you to join us in our comtributions. We are all your Brothers and sisters.
    Roger Federer.

  8. Rafik says:

    What do you want to say Roger ? KYA MATLAB HAI AAP KA ? Humne taarif ki, kuchh
    galat to nahi kiya na ? You may not want to know about me, but I want to know about you all who have been contributing.

    Don’t think I am saying bad about Rafi/Kishore or anybody, this site is
    So don’t feel bad for that. I respect them. But if the playback singers were born in that
    era(Akbar era) they wouldn’t have been known to you. They lived in an era where
    Science and Technology has given so much to mankind. I think it helps you to become
    more Famous and popular. I think that’s the kind of Global popularity you were talking
    about. If yes, then how many of us know Aamir Khusroo ? His stories are found only in
    the books. Don’t you think if today’s sonu nigam or Udit Narayan kind of singers were
    born at that time, they would have been vanished in the history.

    I admire Ghulam Ali, I admire Talat, Mohd. Rafi, I admire Kishore Kumar, Mukesh.
    But there are some logical boundaries, I respect them that doesn’t mean I have to crose
    the boundary and call them God or God of Music. It won’t humiliate them if I don’t call
    them God but if I call them God, I will call it a blind love. So, to me great is great and
    God is god.

  9. Roger says:

    Rafiq we would’nt like to know your that ” one thing”. Why why proceed with your point dood? You are saying you are a new entry. TO KUCH RAAGING HOJAYE KYA? By the way hamne ye site create nahi kiya hai. to why say thanks to your seniors ehy? O.K O.K tatastu! Any way bahut thank you ka prayog kiya hai. Any way from our side its all o.k. O.K baccha . Next time thoda bada banke aana. SSAMJHA KYA!

  10. Rafik says:

    Mr. Petu,

    Good, very good. Then, I will say every great singer is god, every great man is god.
    Love and respect the other great singers and great men, you will see God in them.
    You also try to sing with dedication, you will find a God in you. God is everywhere.

    Mr. Aliqbal,

    That’s relative. Tansen lived from 1506–1589, the kind of popularity you are talking
    about is different and those times were different. Today’s maestros never saw him, but
    he is an ideal example that every classical singer admire no matter they have seen him
    or not like every student worships the Goddess Saraswati in hindu religion no matter
    they have seen her or not. Shahrukh Khan is more popular then Dilip Kumar, no doubt
    Srk was a follower of Dilip but Dilip Kumar is far better than Srk. Similarly Saddam
    Hussain could be more popular than Nelson Mandela, but they are like two extremities.
    I might have taken wrong example, but I wanted to say polularity does guarantee fame
    and a person being great in some field. I will call Rafi great singer, legend of legends,
    or greatest bollywood singer but God is different. We can wordhip the great singers
    like great. Tansen is the only person who can be worshiped like God if I ever do that.
    Rest all are human being, worship them as we do great men but they are not God.

    Sorry, I haven’t come to argue. Can we have friendly environment here ?
    Can we have a thread where we can have little itro, our music tastes,
    fav pass time etc ?

  11. alliqbal says:




  12. petu says:

    Ok. Thanks Rafik.

    You asked if I’ve seen God. For me. I see God everyday. I see God whereever I find happiness. I see God in people who help me. I see God in strangers. I see God when I get goosebumbs admirnig few people who talk, who write. I see God when I listen to Rafi Sahab. I see God when I see Rafi Sahab and finally I see Rafi Sahab when I see God.

    And Nothing more.

  13. Rafik says:

    Disclaimer: I didn’t call for any argument. That’s what I think I said.

    I didn’t say Tansen is god, but he is the only person who is closed to God, so I may call
    him but he was a human being. You didn’t ask me “Have you seen God” ? to start with,
    I haven’t seen god. I haven’t seen Allah, I haven’t seen Hazrat Muhammad, Jesus
    Christ, Lord Krishna. But they are worshiped as religious idols. I get to know about
    them through books, the sacred books. I know I need not go deep into this and also it
    doesn’t need belief in religion or god, it’s a traditonal definition. So how about Tansen ? I
    haven’t seen him, but when you go to musical schools, in books you get to learn about
    his life and music. Tansen is miracle of music. You need not believe in those miracles
    described in the books as you need not believe in the miracles described in the sacred
    religious books. You may bring mythology here but it’s the thing that only a God can do
    so he is the only option to me if I ever have to choose someone as God.
    Human is human and God is god. You can be a great man, a saint.
    God is beyond all of these.

    It’s nothing to hurt your feeling. I said what I think. Still, I believe I respect the legendary
    singers, legendary artists. I admire them, I neen not go beyond and call someone god.

  14. petu says:

    Rafik, you considered Tansen as God of Music. Have you heard Tansen?

  15. Rafik says:

    Hi Folks,

    I am Rafik and new to this site, I visited the other site dedicated to Kishore Kumar.
    I am a great fan of Kishore Kumar and Mohd Rafi, Thank you very much for giving us
    opportunities through these sites. Thank you friends. Would like to know one thing

    Can we have a topic where we can have introduction of Admins, Mods, other Members ?

    Finally, I don’t use the term god for human being. Great is next to God, so I use great to
    admire people who are next to god but not god. If I ever say God of Music then it would
    be Sangeet Samrat Tansen, only Tansen. I call Mother Teresa even next to god but
    not god. So, Rafi is a great singer, god gifter singer, legendary singer but not God of
    Music. It’s my thinking, no offence.

    Anyway, Thanks friends for creating these sites.

  16. Anmol Singh says:

    Most KK fans who do not feel the need of training should read this article.

  17. unknow1 says:

    Long Live Rafi Sahab!

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