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Musings of a music student

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Rabindra Sangeet

A post of mine that has been sitting in the drafts for more than a year, and the irony, it was a guest post. I am sure Dr. Madhubanti would have even forgotten she wrote this, but how could I leave a beautiful post such as this from seeing the light of the virtual world! Here, she talks about her roots, poetry, music and specifically Rabindra Sangeet. Read along!

“Watching me rattle through words at a million miles an hour, it may surprise you to learn that I learnt to sing before I could talk. Today, my music collection is eclectic, ranging casually through genres and across the world.

But my deepest and most abiding love remains for the two types of Bengali music that permeated the very walls of my family home in Kolkata. On the one hand, there is Bengali folk music – evoking the rivers and mountains of a lush, green region and the loves and losses of the people living on and off that land. (Yes, I can hear you thinking: how on earth is a city childhood conducive to imbibing folk music? But bear with me: I’ll come back to this shortly.)

On the other hand, there is Rabindra Sangeet – the uncategorisable musical oeuvre of a literary genius in whose writing there is solace for loss, balm for pain, encouragement for overcoming challenges, the celebration of joys and successes, reverence for nature and humanity, as well as a deep, ineffable relationship with the forces of the Divine, however one conceives of it. (This affinity is more easily understandable: my grandfather, an award-warning professor of literature probably had Tagore songs and poems eddying in his bloodstream, and he passed this on to my mother, and to a far lesser degree, to me.)

When you start to unpack Rabindranath Tagore’s musical – as opposed to lyrical – influences, however, something emerges that makes my urban taste for folk seem a lot less strange. On the one hand, there are the incredibly westernised ‘Purano shei diner kotha‘ – bearing more than a passing resemblance to Auld Lang Syne – or ‘Kotobaro bhebechhinu‘ – designed for piano accompaniment. But the other side of the coin contains pure classical notations of a complexity that puts off most but the most intrepid and skilled vocalists – E Ki Labonye Purno Praan would be a good example – but also beautifully sympathetic renderings and reworkings of traditional folk music from all across undivided Bengal.

The Tagore family were zamindars (landholders) in Shilaidaha in modern-day Bangladesh, and especially in his early writing life, the long journeys there and back from Kolkata, as well as the time spent in his Zamindari allowed Tagore plenty of exposure to both the natural elements he wrote about so eloquently his whole life, but also the folk music that was around him everywhere. With the help of Gagan Harkara on his estate, he began the work of collecting the scattered, oral gems left behind by Lalan Fakir, one of the most legendary peripatetic folk poet singers.

Tagore’s efforts also led people to rediscover the Sylheti folk poet Hason Raja – it would be absolutely fair, to the breadth of imagination and thought of both parties, despite their different languages, to compare him to the great Sufi poet Kabir – but also brought the music of the fisher folk and peripatetic tribal communities into the mainstream. It is not uncommon, to this day, to find Tagore’s folk-based songs being performed at folk music festivals and celebrations, and these days, being ‘digitally remastered’ to the accompaniment of electric guitars and zippy chords.

Since, even today, no self-respecting Bengali family would find itself without a complete set of Tagore’s works, my taste for folk music – to which my introduction was through Tagore himself – doesn’t seem so outlandish any more.

The song I want to leave you with is ‘Amar praaner manush achhe praane‘, whose beautiful lines remind us of why we talk about ‘folk wisdom’ – knowledge and realisations that never quite go out of date.”

Until next,

Vid 🙂

It just happened

I can never write like this… All I can do is reblog 🙂

tisflashpoint

Mobile phone text message or e-mail

 

The phone beeped and she quickly grabbed the phone. Little did she know that this beep was going to be valued a lot more than most of the beeps. They clicked and the conversation went on. Tons of random bits were exchanged to know each other better. They finally realized they were a great match. Finally she made the first phone call, the voice on the other end sounded so full of life. It did not feel like the first time. She fell in love with the person the same day. She values the relationship and hopes it remains forever. 

PS: picture from google images

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A Listener’s Perspective

I have this bad habit – I can never enjoy listening to a song eyes closed and enjoy. These thoughts always cross – what-is-this-raga, will-I-be-ever-able-to-sing-like-this, how-are-they-able-to-produce-the-specific-thing, the technical aspects… blah blah… And thus it was fitting that Bragadeesh Prasanna aka Brags consented to write a guest post, and I was very glad he wrote about this.

Without further ado, read along…

Guest blogging is not my forte. I have never been comfortable doing that. But when a close friend asks you, you cannot deny. Can you? So I wanted to keep the theme of the blog going. It is about music and in particular Carnatic music. I wanted to write something in the line but at the same time, how can a musically illiterate person like me write something. I thought of taking one of my strengths. Movies.

In the starting period of motion pictures in India, music and songs were heavily based on Carnatic. Then after a long time the light music or crowd-pulling music came into picture. Since then the characters portrayed as Carnatic music singers are portrayed in Tamil and Indian Cinemas.

It all started with Tiruvilayadal movie, I presume. The bagavathar who come and perform in the palace demand half of the kingdom, in case nobody is able to beat him in music. The role was played to perfection by TS Balaiyaa that even when I was a kid, I thought all the carnatic singers would be like this only. It had a shade of extremism and then the role was made comic. Though the story demanded it, such was the performance of Balaiyaa that everyone started relating a Bhagavathar to him. Then there were a number of movies where the carnatic singers were made as comedy characters as though they know nothing about music.  There are lot of social and political reasons behind this but I don’t want to go into that.

The next person who made us believe that he was actually a carnatic singer was, Gemini Ganesan in the movie “Unnal Mudiyum Thambi”. Whenever, I hear the raga name Bilahari, Bilahari Marthandam Pillai comes to my mind. Again the musician though talented and celebrated is very narrow minded person. He is casteist, sexist and what not! Instead of propagating a nice art form through movie, such characters made people think the art form is itself not a good one. In this particular sequence, which KB wrote to praise Ilayaraja, talks about the crowd pulling music and the carnatic music. At the end of the scene there is a beautiful aalapana of karaharapriya, which brings tears to one’s eyes. How can one differentiate between two different art forms and say one is superior and other is not? We are ready to accept rap in Tamizh but not English in Thillana. Such is the status!

Then there was the legendary Sindhu Bairavi. GKB again, will not accept competition or people correcting his mistakes. Then he descends down to the alcoholic path and though it is love, involves in an illicit relationship. The whole story revolves around that and nobody can find fault with the story line. One good thing is nothing is out of the storyline in the movie. He also demeans his wife who is not well versed in the art form and falls for a girl who appreciates it. While its completely acceptable, the artist could have been a painter or a dancer or numerous other options.

Cinema is a powerful medium. People who handle it should think not only of the present audience and their money. Because a movie recorded lives on forever and then after twenty years a blogger like me can find such silly faults and come back to the director.

In Tamil cine industry, music is only of two forms. One is carnatic music and another one is light music. There are numerous films which showcase competitions between carnatic and light music and then the light music (usually the hero and gang) wins. What is the message that is passed on? I can only wonder.

Hindi films to an extent have experimented with different things. For example, I never thought I would like a rock song so much till I came across “Rock On”. The movie is about 4 friends and their band. The last song sequence is one of the most repeated songs in my mobile. The lead guitarist walks away from the concert because he wants to satisfy his family and then hears his band performing in radio. He comes back and joins them. If you can understand the lyrics, you will hear this song whenever you feel low and then get the effect of 10 Glucose bottles when the song is over. Farhan Akthar portrayed a rock singer’s role and he learnt the music and sang all his numbers. Hear the song here to know how well he learnt it.

Rock stars are another group which has been stereotyped. Have you ever seen a normal looking rock singer in a movie? I have not. My real life rock music friends are not like that. There will be no crazy tattoos, piercings or unwanted accented English. But the movies had always portrayed them like that and even though the hero portrayed in the same way in this movie, I love it. We all need our share of craziness, don’t we? Watch the King’s magic here.

I think people should come out of what is shown in the movie and heavily-influenced media to seek art form and know about it to enjoy it. Weed and grass are easy to find. If you want to taste elixir, you will have to seek it. It will elude you, but when you find it, you will get the high that you never ever experienced. Remember politics, books and visual medium failed. Only art can liberate the stressed souls.

Thanks again Vidhya for this opportunity.

Until next,

– Vid 🙂

Long Road

Another guest post, a poem by Archu… Hope you enjoy reading as much as I did! – Vid 🙂

As the sun started to rise
Dispelling the darkness of night,
I see you stretch for miles.
Unsure when I would reach your end-
I start with courage and determination,
To keep up the promise long given.As I drive along my path,
I feel my heart thumping with joy.
So am I realizing it isn’t my usual drive,
But something special long assigned.

It was coarse at the beginning yet,
Feeling light, I crossed it-
Within a short span of time.
I now enjoy the smooth drive-
Discovering my new life-
Giving me, an ocean of joy.

I know it can take its turn anytime,
But I’ve my instincts at the same time,
Speaking in delightful tone that-
It is the path long awaiting my imprint.

Setting my mind I continue my drive,
With one wish not to stop before-
The end, that would in-turn-
Stretch beyond its imaginary line.

– Archana.G.R

Friend

Yet another guest write – up by Archana, this time with her full consent, and no compulsion from my part. I felt it was straight out of her heart!

-Vid 🙂

Friend

I was told I have lot of friends. There is a notion that the contact list in my cell exceed 500 by most to whom I speak to. When I started wondering why people have such confidence in me, it made me realize the value of a friend. Its then the shutters opened and the realization struck that it is not my friends who have me , it is that I have so many great souls around me with whom I got the opportunity to associate with. Even a second without them makes the day incomplete. The most famous Airtel ad that captivated every heart , especially the song “ Ovaru friendum theva machan” is the best example to depict the role of a friend in one’s life.

Who is a friend? The one who walks along with you all time? Or is he who takes part in both good and bad times? Or is he the one who acts as well wisher and protector? According to me “Friend is a combo of all three and much more “. You will find your friend standing beside you when you least expect and at the same leaving you alone when you expect his presence. Why does this happen? Why doesn’t he stand by all time? It is a quizzical query. Friends understand us more than what we know about ourselves. They know when it would be best time to make their presence, come on screen and act on our behalf. It is said when we are in dark times, we will get to know our true friend. But let me tell you something. The moment you feel comfortable with a person, that person becomes your friend. Close, best, cool, distanced friendship varies, let me not hit on that now. The point is each one has their own boundaries and strengths, within which they do their best to help and protect. Hence when someone doesn’t respond to your call during dark times doesn’t mean that they don’t care, it is either beyond their limits or they are not at the right place to lend their hand.

So then I have mentioned that each friend has their own boundaries in the previous paragraph, why does this boundary come into picture? Ah! So right time to hit on various types of friendship. Let me make it clear that I am not talking about strength, since it is a different concept. Depending on wavelength match we place friends in various zones. Close, best buddy would be the one who would come into close proximity of your wavelength 99%. 1% depends on the unique characteristic of a person, without which there will not be any distinguish happening. So it is with this buddy sharing of thoughts, personal life, and gossip on the daily activities come into picture and the feeling of belongingness is at its peak, that you would give yourself for your friend when he calls you. You would call yourselves as one individual. These buddies are known to complete each other’s sentence with ease. Then there comes good friend of mine. Here there is only 70 to 80 % match in wavelength. Though you would know he will be available for you, yet there is a catch on sharing personal life incidences. Sharing of worldly things will happen, there is an extension of help, but would lack the emotional side of belongingness. One would be grateful; there will be respect and love for one another as an individual, but not beyond that. Cool buddies are more of easy going characters and the bold ones who can face situations with ease. They also play a part when decisions are to be made and when jovial companionship is required. They have the aura to attract the crowd. They make the ambience bubbling, lively, and positive. Hence this is why these buddies are inevitable and one should be lucky to have one. These buddies keep our spirits high in general terms, but one might give a second thought to share their emotional side since they might not take it as seriously as one would wish it to be considered. Next comes the hi bye friends. These are people who we associate for the first time. Hence it takes time to place them in different categories. Some we wouldn’t prefer to even talk. Hmm why does this situation come? It is because we start judging the person before we actually try to get to know the person. Best advice I can suggest is to stop doing the same. First talk and then decide. None are so bad on this earth.

So then I have given my opinion regarding the different kind of friends, but let me point out that these kinds tend to overlap as well. So there is no definite boundary to any relationship, it all depends on the individual conception. One more thing I would like to quote is, be it any type of friendship, yet the flaw in a friend is ignored at most and only the best side of a friend is noticed first. The true value that we give to a friend can be understood only when we are alone. Value each and every friend and don’t loose them at any cost. Loosing a friend is like a boat without its ore down the stream of events called life.

– Archana

Childhood…

This is a guest article from one of my best and favorite friends, who also happens to be a poet (something I can never be :P)… Kudos, Archu!!

On going through a blog triggered me to put up a write of my own. How to start and proceed with the same? I wonder. This is my first attempt on writing after a gap of 14 years. My first story on a cow written while I was in L.K.G still lingers in my mind. It was a short one with not more than 10 lines, a usual story of cow heading into a forest where it faces a ferocious wildcat (tiger). Childhood, a wonderful period in one’s life. A time when one sing aloud, dance in middle of the road; eat ice creams and chocolates mouth full, dripping from one corner of the tender lips, a smile that never deceives any, the touch of those tender hands paving way to happiness to all around.
A child keeps the ambience healthy, for it has no negative thoughts in its mind, thus spreading positive energy. It walks around illuminating the path it trodden. The child grieving inside every adult ebb out once associated with a little one. Innocence and happiness unbound and overflow. Love and peace reach its heights. The activities involve spontaneous actions, gestures with full of zeal. So is the quality of a child that one would prefer to stay in that world as one grow and move on in life.

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