One instrument that has fascinated me a lot is the bass guitar. That's because of just two people - A.R.Rahman and Keith Peters! I'm so very enamoured with Keith's talent that I exclaimed "Sir.. You are the reason that I love bass guitar", when I met him at the TOI concert in April!

In Indian music, there was hardly any importance for bass guitar. Composers have been using bass guitars for decades, i'm not denying it... But, it was more like it was pushed to the background. Rahman brought that change - he made bass guitar an important part of his compositions. And, thus Keith's extraordinary skills were exposed to the world, and elevated him to such a level that he is arguably the most wanted Bass guitarist in the country!

I'm planning to write about some of his exemplary work in Rahman's songs, and here's the first one!

The first song that comes to my mind is Thee Thee Thithikkum Thee (Thiruda Thiruda), one of my top favourites of AR. Everything in the song - be it Naveen's flute, or Thumba Raja's powerful jathis or the sensuous voice of chinese girl Caroline or the innovative percussion - is out of the world! But, let us push everything else aside for now, and focus on Keith's work.

Bass Guitar is definitely one of the main pillars of this song, which is very unusal in Indian music.
Right from the start when he plays the bass by plucking the strings hard(right at the start), then the normal bass guitar sound in most parts of the song, then the slap bass (during the swaras ma-pa-ni-sa.. ri-sa), Keith shows his class throughout the song.

The emhpatic fusion between Keith's bass and Naveen's flute (second interlude) is such a bliss, and takes me to a different world every single time I listen to it. The song ends with another brilliant bass piece accompanying the jathi.

This song is one of my all time favourites, for many reasons, bass guitar being the most important reason!
By Aravind on Tuesday, September 02, 2008 at 10:28 PM Post Categories: , ,
Comments
  1. dibin

    yes i agree with you pal, wonderful peace of work by keith,
    i believe keith is the best bass guitarist in india.

    Dibin Mohan

  1. Gods.chiefpilot

    Whats your Views about Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean , hes up there folks
    u should hear his stuff

    amazing bassist , he does a class act of brining the bass guitar to the fore front as a melody instrument not only rythm

  1. Guru Smaran

    "In Indian music, there was hardly any importance for bass guitar. Composers have been using bass guitars for decades, i'm not denying it... But, it was more like it was pushed to the background."

    I beg to disagree. Ilayaraja is famous for using the bass guitar.

    Btw, I think Keith Peters was mindblowing in Thee Thee.

    Talking of bass guitars, did you know that the bass guitar in Dil Se Re that we so love was performed by Guy Pratt, the guy who replaced Roger Waters in Gilmour-led Pink Floyd in the 80's and early 90's.

  1. Anonymous

    I would certainly agree with Guru Smaran. Ilayaraja improvised on the use of bass guitar for Indian music. Of course RD Burman's music used to have some aggressive bass guitar playing as well. IR's bass lines were more melodic in nature. No one would have ever thought that the bass guitar could sound so sweet.

    ARR brought about the Fusion genre of music. He brought in international techniques of bass playing to tamil film music, and Keith perfectly suited the job. He is indeed an awesome bass player and perhaps as rightly mentioned, one of the most sought after bassists in the country.But many a time ARR programmes bass tones thro' his advanced studio softwares. Thats one rue I have about him.

    Hope you guys have heard of Keith's brother, Karl. You have to listen to him play. He is a phenomenon.---Eddie

  1. TN Arunagiri

    Absolutely agree that IR has not only used bass guitar but has well written melodic bass lines keeping in tune with the time signatures and raga grammar.

    Some slap bass lines could be heard clearly in songs like Poongatru Un Per SOlla and Nothing But Wind albums.

    Earlier songs (going back to the lates 70s and early 80s), liek Rojavai Taalattum, Paruvame and Kaadal Oviyam have wonderful bass lines, now that the technology has improved tremendously.

    But I agree with Keith Peters being one of the best and most sought after bass players in India.

  1. John

    Looks like I'm late to the party on this, but you can't deny Maestro Raaja's brilliant use of the bass guitar! I play in a U.S.-based Tamil band and love learning Raaja's songs. The more you delve into his bass lines, the more you realize how intricate the interplay is between the bass and the rest of the instruments. Of course Rahman is great, that's indisputable, but Raaja seems to be the man who brought Western influenced bass guitar lines to Tamil music. Ninnukori Varnam has one of the most beautiful bass lines I have ever heard, out of India or otherwise, and the simple beauty of the bass line in Maasi Maasam is much classier than any slap bass line. Raaja's brilliance was in understatement - he showed his genius not by addition and complication, but by combining just enough elements to nurture his transcendent melodies.

    And if you're interested in Fusion bass players, check out Jah Wobble, particularly his album Molam Dub, which features songs and musicians from Laos.

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  1. Anonymous

    IAM OK WITH IT ...BUT HAVE U LISTENED TO ANOTHER SONG FROM THE SAME MOVIE ...PUTHAM PUTHU BOOMI FROM TIRUDA THIRUDA...LISTEN TO THE BASE THERE...THE BASE GUITAR IS AWESOME THERE..ALSO
    2.LISTEN TO VARAIO THOLI VARAIO THOLI ...FROM THE MOVIE JEANS
    3.JANA GANA MANA FROM THE MOVIE ..AUTHA ELITHU...
    4 KULVALILE ...FROM SUPER STAR MOVIE MUTHU
    5 FINALLY ...CHINNA CHINNA ASSAI....FROM ROJA....I THINK THATS THE BEST OF BASE GUITAR FOR U ...listen to the 5 songs...ONLY GIVE EAR TO THE BASE GUITAR

  1. Anonymous

    IAM OK WITH IT ...BUT HAVE U LISTENED TO ANOTHER SONG FROM THE SAME MOVIE ...PUTHAM PUTHU BOOMI FROM TIRUDA THIRUDA...LISTEN TO THE BASE THERE...THE BASE GUITAR IS AWESOME THERE..ALSO
    2.LISTEN TO VARAIO THOLI VARAIO THOLI ...FROM THE MOVIE JEANS
    3.JANA GANA MANA FROM THE MOVIE ..AUTHA ELITHU...
    4 KULVALILE ...FROM SUPER STAR MOVIE MUTHU
    5 FINALLY ...CHINNA CHINNA ASSAI....FROM ROJA....I THINK THATS THE BEST OF BASE GUITAR FOR U ...listen to the 5 songs...ONLY GIVE EAR TO THE BASE GUITAR

  1. Sabareesh

    Friends,

    One of the foremost musicians who used to play Bass guitar in the indisn film industry was Tony Vaz. He has played bass on almost all R D Burman songs and for many other music directors as well.

    Remember that song "Jaane Jaa dhoondhta phir raha" from the movie Jawani Deewani ?? Tony Vaz had played it. I see that as one of the best songs where bass guitar was used prominently. Keith & Karl are both brilliant in their own league.

    Respect for them

  1. bibz.

    Sir,You are the reason that I love bass guitar!
    KULVALILE ...from the Super Movie MUTHU.
    I hear the song everyday...because I like Bass Guitar.

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