The question is a simple one to answer, and I’ll try and keep the answer as simple as possible.
Almost 90% guitar players, or aspiring guitarists and musicians in India encounter this question when they are getting started, and the ones who stick around long enough to make some real musical gains are able to find out the answer.
So, Is playing Hindi film music on guitar easy or hard?
Well, the answer really depends on a number of factors. If you are really looking for an answer from me, then according to me, playing most of Hindi film music, or any contemporary popular genre of music, is comparatively easier than playing many other musical styles.
In fact, it’s the easiest thing on the guitar for me personally.
But this is an answer coming from an experienced guitar teacher, helping students easily play Hindi film and other popular songs on Guitar.
Whether you would be able to play it easily or not, completely depends on how you approach learning these songs and performing them.
Let’s break down a typical Hindi film song, into the 7 different elements of music and understand, why is it relatively easier to learn and perform these songs.
The popular hindi film songs or any song from the Pop genre, are driven by a vocal melody, i.e. it’s the singer who’s responsible to articulate the melody through his/her voice. This makes things easier for you as a guitarist, as you don’t have to play the melody yourself and create interesting lead lines on the Guitar for the most important parts of the songs. Most hindi film composers are good with melody, and make your job easier by keeping things simple in this department. Some composers like R.D Burman, AR. Rahman, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Pritam are exceptionally good at creating melodies, and the whole world knows about this. All you have to do is to learn the vocal lines and sing along with guitar. Follow this link for help on how to master the art of singing and playing guitar simultaneously.
Now this is where you’ll do most of your work with the Guitar. Since the melody is being sung with your voice, or any other person singing the song, you have to assume the responsibility of playing the harmony through the Guitar. For those who are not familiar with the term harmony, you can think of it as the chords that you generally play while singing the song for now.There's a much deeper description to harmony, but that would not concern you as a guitar player performing Hindi film songs, unless you are composing or rearranging songs.
This is the one element that plays a huge role in making hindi film songs easy to learn and perform on guitar. Form is the layout of the songs, how it’s divided in terms of sections.Most hindi film songs follow a set template for songs, and there’s rarely any change. Some composers like AR Rahman, Amit Trivedi, Sachin-Jigar etc. or some yesteryear composers have experimented with this, but it has still been consistent over the years.The songs would typically start with an Intro, moving into a verse, followed by some kind of pre-chorus or chorus, then comes a bridge section and then most of these sections repeat throughout the song.Since most listeners of Pop music are not very concerned about the musical parts, you can focus solely on harmony in each section, and still deliver a popular performance that will be adored by your listeners.
Being a popular genre of music, it becomes crucial for the composer to not over complicate things, and create something that’s easy on the ears. As a result, the rhythms used in majority of popular music is extremely straightforward and can be easily played on the guitar.
This goes back to our earlier point regarding Melody. The texture can always be kept very simple by laying the guitar part with a vocal melody. Even if you go as far as adding more instruments or drum parts, it’s still one of the easiest to play on guitar.
As far as performing is concerned, you can take various approaches here. However, Pop songs are all about keeping things simple. You can easily create great sounding guitar tone, which would majority of the times include strumming the chords, or playing slow arpeggios using a pick or through finger picking. These things can also be combined to create more variety when playing these songs.
This is probably the least important element to train yourself on when learning Hindi film music. However, this can be the single most thing that can give an edge to your performances. Think of it as the change in energy of the music, so this can be done on the guitar or voice or both. Especially important element to focus on, in case you are performing as a band. With this being said, there are not many complex uses of dynamics as far as the music is concerned in Hindi film songs. This element is again dominated by the vocals.
Now you see why I consider Hindi film music to be one of the easiest genres to learn and play on guitar...
What makes it even more easier is the approach you take towards learning these songs, which I've covered in this article, covering the mistakes that most aspiring guitarists make when trying to learn songs, that delays their progress massively.
For unique learning programs that teach you the step by step process to learn any song faster and perform them with ease, head over to Guitar Teacher Pune - Free Trial and book your intro session with me now.