Bloomsburg to Bangladesh – Song Notes

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Bloomsburg to Bangladesh – Song Notes

Performing at Brews N Bytes - Photo by Marlin Wagner

She’s a Zombie (dePrisco/Rodericks): In 2002, a fellow songwriter forwarded to me a message from a lyricist in India who was looking for collaborators. The lyricist’s name was Paul Rodericks, and within a short time we were corresponding. Paul initially sent me several complete song lyrics to work with, but it was “She’s a Zombie” that most quickly developed into a complete track. I worked out an acoustic guitar and vocal draft on a micro cassette recorder, then converted that draft into audio that I could post on the web so that Paul could review it.

Unfortunately, spotty Internet access in Goa, India and compatibility issues with audio players on the web began to affect our collaboration. Even email was not reliable, with long dropouts in communication taking place for months at a time. Nevertheless, the track went through various revisions, first with a produced sound that included royalty-free tabla loops from Sonic Foundry and TaalTrax, a tabla sample vendor. After meeting Bulu however, it was obvious that I needed to strip away some of the electronics and add Bulu’s talent to finish this track. On this song, Bulu plays in Druto Kaharba Taal. The song also features some drum fills from a (royalty free) Mick Fleetweed Signature Sounds collection. While the use of loops and samples is still an open creative question in my mind, I think their use here is judicious and satisfying.

Bistirno Dupare (Writer: Shibdas Banerjee): Bistirno Dupare (aka Liberation War Song in our live shows and our WVIA appearance) is one of my favorite songs in our set. Sung by other artists like Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, this song is about the two Bengali nations (West & East) and it inspired the sub-continent to revolt against British Imperialism. It is an expression of outrage against poverty, illiteracy, language discrimination, and government corruption – sung by millions of people living on the shores of the River Ganges.

I like the song because it gives Bulu the opportunity to use his glorious and sincere voice (which he usually can’t do playing tablas at the same time), and it is an expression of the feeling of his people.

Bengali lyrics:

Bistirno Dupare
Asongkhay manosher, hahakar suneo, nissabde nirobe
Oh ganga tumi, Oh ganga baicho keno.

Naitikotar skholon dekheo, Manobotar paton dekheo
Nirlozzo alashbhabe, baicho keno

Sahasro baroshar, unmadonar
Mantro diyao lakkhajonere
Sabal sangrami, aar agrogami, kore tulona keno.

The Ganges, epitomized as the powerful goddess, has been challenged for its inaction during economic oppression, deprivation, and helplessness under self-centered and corrupt political-social leadership. The writer, Shibdas Banerjee, is a journalist in Bangladesh. She could not be reached during the recording process, so we’d like to ask her to contact us if she reads this. Bulu plays Kaharba Taal.

Men At Sea (dePrisco): This song was inspired by reading Moby Dick and a program about whaling on the Discovery or History channel (don’t recall which one it was.)

Pentangle (dePrisco): When Bulu and I first started working together, we dug deep into my catalog of vocal and instrumental material for pieces that allowed us to showcase the interaction of tablas and guitar. Pentangle is a composition written in 1991 as part of my early MINDSPEAK collections. These days, Pentangle is usually played as a medley with Maya, also included later on this CD. Pentangle is in Am, as is Yesterday is Here, so I’ve used Pentangle as a transition piece. The namesake of Pentangle song is a progressive folk-rock group from the 70s which I (sadly) know little about. On Pentangle Bulu plays in Kaharba Taal, which turns out to be the most effective Taal for many of my songs.

Maya (dePrisco): Written around 1992, Maya is a simple Em and Am guitar interlude used here to bring the energy level down a bit as we transition to the next song. Maya is usually played as a medley after Pentangle. On Maya, Bulu plays Kaharba Taal.

Yesterday is Here (Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan): Tom Waits is one of my favorite songwriters, and Yesterday is Here is one of my favorite Tom Waits songs. One of the reasons that I like Tom Waits is that almost anyone can pick up his songs and give them a unique twist, and they will still sound good because they are such great songs. I’ve included Yesterday is Here (with permission) to showcase my solo vocal/guitar format and to add a break to the other highly produced songs. It also gave Bulu a rest, and was very easy to mix!

Mangalam (dePrisco): Mangalam is an Indian term that means “prosperity”. This instrumental started as an experiment using a percussion loop. Starting in Harrisburg, and continuing over a period of about two years, the various guitar and keyboard parts came to me, and in October of 2001 I finally compiled all of the best motifs. I consider this song the pinnacle of my instrumental guitar/keyboard pieces, as it builds on the energy of Indian music and my own rock interests. This is also the first song to feature flute in several years, and represents a proud return to my roots as a Jethro Tull fan.

Mangalam sat for a couple of years on my hard drive, in almost final form. Occasionally I would come back to add tabla loops and other colors. When Bulu and I were looking for material, we deconstructed the song for an acoustic version. For many of our early shows it was our signature song, often serving as a starting point for improvisation. Fans who have seen us perform live may recognize the melody, but I’m sure the electric arrangement will turn some heads. One day I would like to play this version live, with a real drum kit. Bulu plays Kaharba and Ektal on the tablas.

Mikey Might (dePrisco): In 1992, I wrote a song on mandolin about high school peer pressure and frustration. It was one of the early MINDSPEAK pieces that I always wanted to produce. Little did I know that over the years the song would be so pertinent with events such as the Columbine school shootings. A friend encouraged me to do a new version with my new production ethics that developed while working with Mangalam and She’s A Zombie. I would have liked to have done more with the orchestration, but the raw nature of the arrangement is in keeping with the subject matter itself. Bulu plays Rupak and Kaharba Taals.

Teasing the Toad (dePrisco): This is one of my early MINDSPEAK-era fairytale-like songs from 1995. The arrangement here just evolved over time as we worked the song into our live set. I was tempted to add a lead instrument, such as bansuri flute or synthesizer over the bridge and end, but hesitated because it seemed like the song worked best in its more sparse form. I can see us coming back to this piece to do something a bit more involved someday. Bulu plays single Kaharba Taal on the tablas.

Visions (dePrisco): Another MINDSPEAK-era piece from 1992, Visions is the first flute solo that I am releasing on CD. My relationship with the flute goes back to the early 90s and my fascination with Jethro Tull. For the most part I’ve learned flute by ear, as well as a host of bad playing habits. While I had a few lessons from teachers, I never made the time to keep up the practice necessary to call myself a flutist. When I moved to Harrisburg in 1997, there was a period of about four years where I played flute very seldom, mostly to keep my neighbors happy. I was also very conscious of the comparisons I received to Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson, so I made an effort to distance myself from their music and image.

When I moved to Bloomsburg in 2001, the flute gradually came out again. Fewer neighbors and a suitable studio layout helped me be less self conscious. Bloomsburg to Bangladesh formed, and when we began to work with Tom Dennehy as Moonlight Masala it seemed like it might be possible to dust off some of my old flute instrumentals and give them a whirl. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the flute. As we worked it into our sets, we saw that people responded to it quite well. Bulu was particularly encouraging, and suggested that we keep it up. Hopefully we can offer some more pieces like this in the future. There are at least two that are on the backburner, and I’m sure I can write others.

Bulu plays Druto Dadra and Kaharba Taals.

Prothom Bangladesh (Abdul Basit Choudhury, Sweden): Prothom Bangladesh is the Bangladesh National Party Anthem. I was first exposed to this song during a Bengali New Year celebration at Bloomsburg University in 2002, which was also the first time I saw Bulu. However, Bulu and I did not formally meet until late 2002, or early 2003. In 2003, the Bengali community held another New Year celebration, and Prothom Bangladesh was again performed. At the 2004 Bengali New Year, I found myself playing with the Bengali community on this song, which fell relatively easily under my fingers on the guitar except for one place that to this day still boggles my mind. Nevertheless, it is one of my favorite songs.

This song features Nandini Sengupta, a local singer and harmonium player. The initial performance of chorus and harmonium were recorded with a DAT recorder at Nandini’s house. The rest of the instrumentation was added at my project studio, including Bulu’s tabla part (Jhumur Taal).

Chorus:

Prothom Bangladesh, Amar Shesh Bangladesh,
Jibon Bangladesh, Amar Moron Bangladesh.

First Bangladesh, My last Bangladesh,
Life Bangladesh, My death Bangladesh.


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jjdeprisco

Owner of Pepperhead Studios, guitarist in Fricknadorable, and Electro-acoustic sound designer/experimenter.