Pravin Gandhi: A Beautiful Music – in the Paris metro

Before you listen to this Beautiful Music, drive everyone out of the room for a few minutes, shut the doors and windows, don’t answer the doorbell or phone, and turn up your computer speaker volume to let the music fill your ears and room.

But first, the story.

This happened in Paris, during my 3-month long vagabond travels through the European continent.

I would leave after breakfast from my youth hostel or cheap accommodation with nothing but my camera, an apple and the book “Europe on $20 a day”, use the bus/tram/metro and walk, walk and walk.

music in a subway

Typical renegade musician in a metro underground

On this particular night, as I trudged my weary legs back to my accommodation in the Latin Quarter of Paris, I entered the subway and proceeded to the underground platform through a tunnel. The tunnel was bathed in bright white light. It was bitterly cold outside and the draft inside the tunnel made it worse. I heard some music, increasing in volume as I approached nearer, till I saw a man sitting on the floor at a turn in the the tunnel, playing a flute. There was hardly any other commuter a this late hour, and the occasional one hurried to catch the metro home.

He started a fresh number. It was a beautiful melody. The music from his flute bouncing off the walls of the curved tunnel filled the entire tunnel on both sides of us.  It was like being in a concert hall. As I stood opposite the flautist, and listened, mesmerised, it was as if he was performing only for me! When he stopped, I gave a sign of clapping and put a small coin. He would have also guessed my circumstances and nodded appreciatively. I asked him in French what he was playing, “Qu’est ce que vous jouvez?”. I memorised that it was Jean Paul Something.

I would never forget that place, the special performance, the enthralling moment and the beautiful melody. For years I searched in vain for any music to do with a certain Jean Paul Something.

Till one day, listening to an audio cassette of Richard Clayderman at the house of a cousin in Bangalore, I recognised a piano solo tune and jumped. I noted the title of the number “Dolannes Melodie”. Half the battle was won . I still had to find the Jean Paul Something version.

A few years later, came the age of the internet, search (no, not Google yet), and peer-to-peer music sharing service Napster. I not only discovered the piece but also transferred it. I discovered that Jean Paul Something was actually Jean Claude Borelly – I had been barking up a wrong Jean Paul tree.

So here it is, Dolannes Melodie by Jean Claude Borelly. Click and play the video. It is a trumpet-flute composition. When you come to the flute part, think of a little young man in a Paris metro tunnel in the freezing cold, listening to a tramp musician playing the same bit.

Enjoy a Beautiful Music.


Pravin Gandhi is the author of “One at a time – short stories to muse by”

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