The Lord of Rhythm – Burjor Lord
Everything in the universe is in some kind of motion with defining patterns which indicates the existence of rhythm. The pattern of breathing is rhythm, heartbeats are rhythm. Rhythm guides our lives. Rhythm guides music. It is the very essence of music. It is the placement of sounds in time. It maintains the flow of a song. It is the combination of beat, tempo, rubato, time and metre. The rhythm instruments therefore provide the basic groove of a song. Music consists of a combination of 3 components – melody, harmony and rhythm and yet, it is the rhythm which dictates the basic structure of a song. The percussionists or the rhythm instrument players can be very well called as the musical timekeepers. Sense of rhythm is the most essential thing for an instrumentalist as well as a vocalist. Hindi film music has been a blend of Indian and western musical structures and instruments. While we are on this topic, there are so many instrumentalists that come to my mind, one of them being Burjor Lord.
Born on 19th July, 1941, Burjor Lord is the younger son of great percussionist, Cawas Lord. Burjor or as we fondly call him Buji, started learning piano at the age of 7 or 8 years. He also learnt mouth organ and harmonium. He was introduced to the Latin American percussion instruments by his father. Even while he was into music from his younger days, he always nurtured a dream of travelling all over the world by becoming a Marine Engineer. But fortunately for all us music lovers he became an ace musician and travelled the world with artists such as Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, etc by accompanying them for their concerts. As a teenager, he refined his skills by practising for as much as 12 hours, taking small breaks in between for food. Buji Lord’s first break came with none other than the maestros Shankar Jaikishan. It happened that his elder brother Kersi was not well and hence Dattaram, who was the music arranger for SJ, summoned the younger one for the recording. Having music in his genes, Buji Lord mastered various instruments of both melody and rhythm under his father’s able guidance. The contribution of the Lords towards Hindi film music is humongous. Hindi film music would have been poorer without them. The Lords would often interchange the instruments while recording different songs. However there are 2 such songs where all 3 of them (Cawas, Kersi, Burjor) have played as musicians – Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi (Mujhe Jeene Do, 1963) and Hai isi mein pyar ki aabroo (Anpadh, 1962).
Starting his career in the late 50s, he continued working till mid 80s with all the ace music directors, though his long association with R D Burman is well known. He has been mostly associated with drums and vibraphone but counting the number of instruments this younger Lord has mastered is just glorious. The drums, congos, bongos, castanets, ghungroos, Chinese wooden blocks, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also played the electronic keyboards, the octapads and the Roland drum machines. He took to these rhythm instruments like fish takes to water. His expertise on all these instruments makes him the master, the LORD of rhythm.
Let’s have a quick look at some of the songs, which is like a drop in the ocean, of various music directors where this talented Lord has transcended playing distinct instruments.
The Castanets –