21 November, 2005

Harmony - lacking in Indian classical music ?

It amazes me to learn about the interest of Westerners in Indian classical music. Not only is there interest, but also they are begining to understand it better than us! I came across a blog post by Rob http://robquick.blogspot.com. His post is mainly about the harmony that is present in western music, which is lacking in ours. The closest to harmony in our music is the Drone (Tanpura/Swarmandala etc) on which two notes, fifth apart are continuously played. Its on the background of these two notes that the melody or Raaga is expounded.
Yes, I accept that there's not too much harmony in Indian classical music. But then, our music has rhythm and melody which more than makes up for lack of harmony. Imagine, there are only 12 notes in the octave of western music, but 22 notes in ours! It is these micro notes that give our music its variety, richness and melody! In Western music, lot of stress is given on tonal clarity and harmony, which is produced by playing different notes simultaneously (Chords) many times on different instruments. On the contrary, Indian classical music is monophonic with the singer or the instrumentalist singing or playing the notes and other accompanists viz, percussionist, drone player only providing the rhythm and melody base respectively. Yet, inspite of it being monophonic, Indian classical music is much appreciated in the west. What is it that attracts them to it? Is it its inherent spiritualism, rhythm , melody, soothing effect or something else? I want to know the answers to it!

13 October, 2005

Hindi film music and classical music an intimate relationship

Most, if not all of us Indians are deeply influenced by film music, hindi film music in particular. I shall limit my jottings to hindi film music as I am deeply influenced by it. In fact, my interest in classical music was awakened by hindi film music. It so transpired that about 20 years ago, when my mother was doing her “Riyaaz”, I was all of a sudden captivated by the notes she was singing. Till that time I was least interested in classical music, and more in sync with Pop, Disco etc. Its not that I suddenly wanted to take up classical music seriously from that moment onwards, but I found myself gravitating more towards classical music, initially in the form of listening Ghazals, later light classical and finally Pure classical. Thus I made hesitant attempts to understand and explore the depths of classical music. I began to sit with my mother during her training sessions with her Guruji, but here I was rudely awakened out of my illusions of understanding classical music. To my utter horror I discovered that music is not about nodding your heads in concerts and saying Wah, Wahs ! Its all about Audav sampoorna, Audav –Audav Raags, Vadi samvadi swaras, Aarohs awarohs and Vilambit & Drut khayals! All this was greek to me and I quailed at the thought of mastering all this in order to appreciate good music. Fate intervened here in the form of my Uncle Shri Narayan Pandit, a noted violinist himself, who had honed his craft with Late Pt Kumar Gandharv and who had also played in Music director duo Kalyanji Anandji’s troupe sometimes. .When he saw me struggling to grapple with technicalities of classical music, he first dissociated me from my mothers classes ! He asked whether I wanted to take up music seriously, since I had already enrolled for my basic Denistry course. I replied that I simply wished to be able to appreciate good music and its subtle nuances and also to be able to play a musical instrument. He then proceeded to teach me to play Harmonium sans the raagas etc. I was wonderstruck at this novel approach. I had been brought up in the belief that even to be able to play the national anthem on an instrument, one has to be proficient in classical music. Thus he disproved in 48 hours flat when I played our beloved anthem in front of my dumbstruck parents. After that he taught me to play several melodies (mostly hindi film songs!). In the meanwhile I used to pester him with queries regarding the finer aspect of music e.g.how is a raga classified as morning/night raga? Then he explained me about the emotional appeal of our music system which is entirely lacking in western music. I was surprised to know that a morning/night raga appeals to the emotions of a person at that particular time. To make things simpler, he gave an example of Raag Lalit, which is utilized beautifully by Naushad in composing “Ek shahenshah ne banwa ke haseen taj mahal” in film,Leader. More examples followed in which raaga based hindi songs were highlighted. After a few months of such innovative tutelage, I began to recognize the basic raagas by associating them with hindi songs. Thus I could identify Malkauns by “Man tarapat hari darasan……”, Sindhu Bhairavi by “Laaga chunari main daag”, Ahir Bhairav by “Poocho na kaise maine raat bitayee etc ! I still cannot differentiate between an Audav sampoorna raga and an Audav-Audav raga, but that hasn’t stopped me in any way in enjoying the beauty of classical music. I regularly attend concerts and listen to classical music almost everyday either in its pure form or its derivatives which may be thumris, tappas, ghazals or even film songs !

05 October, 2005

Inviting all classical music lovers

Hi there Folks !
Inviting all Indian classical music lovers to share their news, views and thoughts on what else - Indian classical music. Music is the food for soul is an oft repeated Cliche. Its not without reason that Indian classical music has been claimed to be probably the richest in its variety and in longevity. Our music is timeless and all encompassing in its appeal, whether its Hindustani or Carnatic classical. No part of our life is untouched by our music. In fact our music is inspired from the nature itself. I personally am a hindustani classical music afficionado. So, folks, get going and post your views on this blog. LET ME MAKE IT AMPLY CLEAR AT THE OUTSET THAT THIS BLOG IS NOT AGAINST OTHER FORMS OF MUSIC APART FROM CLASSICAL. OUR CULTURE HAS TAUGHT US TO RESPECT OTHERS CHOICE ALSO.