Scale/Octave change in the middle of the song

Scale (music) (Italian scala, ladder), the arrangement, by rising or falling pitch sequence, of the tones used in a musical system. ? ?Ever wondered why a song suddenly started sounding a little “different” suddenly in the midst of it? The tune is the same, the singers are the same … but something surely happened! The “phenomenon” you are experiencing is most likely the “scale change”. For eons this has been pretty popular in the west, but this scale change has not been vastly explored by our music directors – not until very recently though.  

Before I proceed any further, I do want to put a disclaimer out there … I am not trained in Classical Music and most of my knowledge has been acquired from listening to Sangeet Sarita at 7:30 AM on Vividh Bharati – there I just “dated” myself! 🙁 So you Shastriya-Sangeet trained people, please feel free to point out if I mis-speak anywhere. I will try and not get too technical here and keep it very basic and easily understandable… I am not talking of a song being composed in multiple scales .. C Major, C Minor etc (my own knowledge in this is extremely limited) … I am referring to the whole “Sur” of the song (often referred to as the pitch) suddenly being lifted, usually a notch higher in the middle of the song … example, if a song was being played with Sa corresponding to B on the Western scale, it suddenly goes to the scale where Sa is now on A or C. ? 

In the olden goldies world, RD Burman seems to be the leader in this area!! Well, that’s the RD Bhakt in me speaking .. there have been others too who have attempted this, but none to the “scale” of RD Burman (pun intended!) 🙂 Listen to Main Chali, Main Chali (Padosan) and right after the second stanza (at about the 3:53 point), the scale of the song goes a notch higher. The exact same thing happens in Deewana Karke Chhodoge (Mere Jeevan Saathi) and then again in Koi Ladki Mujhe Kal Raat (Seeta Aur Geeta), Nahin Nahin Abhi Nahin (Jawani Diwani). Another example by the same music director is the uber-melodious, but relatively lesser known Mausam Pyar Ka, Rang Baldalta Rahe (Sitamgar) at about the 3:57 point. In fact, RD Burman went a step further for Daiyya Ye Main Kahan Aa Phansi (Caravan) and had the scales continuously changing throughout the song! (Often referred to as “Jumping Notes”). Only Asha Bhosle could have achieved that!!! – the “Aa Aa Aa…” between the repetition of the main line Daiyya Ye Main acts as the “bridge” for the change of the scale.  Taking this a step further, I Love You .. Kya Khushi Kya Gham (Asha Bhosle – Usha Uthup from Hare Rama Hare Krishna) is a classic example of a song being sung in two octaves – Asha on one Octave and Usha on the lower one. See my point? ? 

But wait! This is not supposed to be an RD Burman blog!! [Symbol] So let me conjure up some other examples by other music directors. In recent times,  Anu Malik has experimented a lot with scale/octave changes. There is Love Hua (Jaanam Samjha Karo) and then the stanza of Baadalon  Mein Chhup Raha Hai (Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Ayee). The very recent, very melodious Saibo (Shor in the City) completely lives in two octaves… Shreya on the lower one, and Tochi (also the music director) on the higher one. Ooh La La La (Sapnay) undergoes a scale change in the middle of the song (at about the 4:58 point) and then stays at that higher scale.  

In the past, Salil Chowdhury & C.Ramchandra have explored amply in such harmonies – can anyone give us examples of these?  ? 

I want to close with Late R. D. Burman da again since he was he maestro in this arena... Saamne Ye Kaun Aya (Jawani Diwani) is one of the swashbuckling numbers of Kishore da which is famous for its splendid orchestration and imaginative composition. Hallmark of the song is the scale change at the very outset … during the initial “Heyyyyyyyyyyy..” in which only Burman da specialized! Reader, please send us more examples…

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