Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Praising God In A New Way

Playback singer Franco Simon has brought out a Christian meditation album, 'Moran Amekh', in Sanskrit

Photo by Albin Mathew 

By Shevlin Sebastian

Every morning, in Orlando, USA, when Poulose Kuyiladan took his five-year-old autistic son, George, to school he faced a problem. “As soon as he got into the car, George jumped up and down,” says Paulose, a businessman. “Once he suddenly opened the door and ran out.”

But, inadvertently, one day, Paulose solved the problem. He placed a CD called 'Moran Amekh' in the car stereo. As the music grew in volume, George calmed down. Thereafter, Paulose has always played the CD. And things have been quiet ever since inside the car.

'Moran Amekh' is a Christian meditation album in Sanskrit. It has been produced by Indian playback singer Franco Simon, and will be formally launched in mid-January. Incidentally, the words, 'Moran Amekh', in the Aramaic language used by Jesus Christ, means, 'The Lord Be With You'.

Franco wanted to do an album in Sanskrit because there is a texture and divinity in the language. “This cannot be seen in any other language,” he says. “I can say this with certainty because I listen to a lot of world music.”

Initially, Franco faced the problem of getting somebody to write Christian lyrics in Sanskrit. After a four-year search, he came across retired Sanskrit professor Dr. K U Chacko who did the job.

Thereafter, Franco assembled a team of talented musicians. They included Franco's own uncle, the national award-winning Mollywood composer, Ousepachan (violin), Rajesh Cherthala (flute), Sandeep Anand (guitar), KJ Paulson (sitar), Dr. Bhavya Lakshmi (Carnatic violin), KO Gopi (shehnai), William Francis (keyboard), and Mithun Jayaraj (vocals).

In order to create a reverb effect (sound reflection capture), it was done at the Our Lady of Doloures Basilica in Thrissur. This is a Gothic structure, with a very high ceiling. “We worked through the night,” says Franco. Apart from the musicians, there was a group of singers who rendered a hypnotic chant.

“The orchestral tones contain theta waves and binaural beats,” says Franco. “This is a frequency where you feel most relaxed. So when listeners, who are stressed out and low in energy, listen to the songs they will calm down.”

On the album, there are eight songs, ranging in time from 10 to 30 minutes. “The first one, a wake-up song called 'Yesusuprabhatham', has a faster tempo,” says Franco. “The rest are slow and meditative.”

Incidentally, Franco has worked on meditative albums before. As a member of 'Band 7' a Hindi pop group, they brought out eight meditative albums for Cosmic Music, apart from a pop album called 'Yeh Zindagani'.

Meanwhile, he admits that this labour of love, which is available on YouTube, has burnt a hole in his pocket. “My parents, who live in the US, contributed a sizeable sum, apart from my brother,” he says. “But I have no regrets. I believe that as people get more and more stressed, there is an urgent need for meditative music. And this is my gift to the world.” 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi) 

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