Sunday, October 31, 2010

Indian Classical Music

There are few friends with whom even if you don't speak for months, the next time you chat with them, it feels as if it was only yesterday you last chatted with them. You pick up threads immediately. As if you and these friends are just one soul. It happens same with classical music and me. I sometimes stay away from it for months, forgetting it in the mundane daily life. Then one fine morning I open the classical music folder from my machine and play it for whole day, feeling one with it. (And mind you, I have never really learned classical music.)

I do listen to numbers from all the other kinds of music - Rock, Pop, Folk, Jazz (and even rap sometimes). But what really gets me hooked is the classical music. Often I find people frowning at the name of classical music. Perhaps because of peer pressure, or they don't try to understand it, or because it "ain't cool". To those people, sometimes I feel like saying that Indian Classical Music is like mathematics/logic - very few people like it the first time. But no matter what you do, you can't avoid it. Its because what it provides is sets of rules, like mathematics, to apply to a particular problem you are facing. And then you apply the rules to solve the problem, or create the kind of music that you want to create.

Ragas are indeed like set of rules. You have been given few notes and then you are free to create whatever permutations and combinations you want to create. (Some LISP programmers may find it analogous to LISP environment. They may find C language too boring for the same reason a classical music person would find too much rock music boring for. There is no scope for creating true music in either of those, they will say.) You want to solve a particular problem or sing at a particular hour then select a suitable set of tools - algebra, probability, analysis (or a combination) or select a particular raga or a combination of ragas and solve the problem. While solving real problems, sometimes you need to deviate a little from pure mathematical assumptions or you need to deviate a little from the notes of raga to welcome other notes for a moment for the song of your soul. The way you have the undercurrent of mathematics with some compromises running below all the real world wonders, you have abstract classical music with some deviation running under all the music you see.

But in reality, people love real world wonders but seldom care to see what created the wonder. They love their i-phones but don't really care to know the maths that made it possible. They love the film music but don't love the classical music, seldom realizing the pitfall of irony they are falling into. And then they miss upon an infinite treasure of the classical music while the classical music fans can't get enough of it!


vinay said...

Yes, I totally agree to what you say and this is more true, I feel, for the creator or the one who renders the classical music. The intricacies of creation, the freedom within well-defined boundaries and the unbounded scope for creativity and consolidation that you have highlighted surely seem to be the salient characteristics of classical music. Apart from these, from the listener's point of view, I feel, classical music seeks unfailingly to create harmony within the notes and to belly the essence of that raga. Harmony grips you and constancy seeps deep into you to deliver the feel/mood/expression of that raga. The gradual delivery helps the listener to familiarize, understand and create a feel for himself and his environment. And still, as you have pointed out, there seem to be endless connotations of classical music regaling the listener each and every time and with an ascending trend. It feels surreal beyond words and grasp!

Onkar Bhardwaj said...

@Vinay : :) You are the poet! :)

Swaprava Nath said...

Wonderful exposition. I really like it. I really don't want to compare with the western bits, since they are different ball game, and moreover I like the compositions of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven very much. But if you look closely, they can only be replicated, you play the composition 1000 times, it's the same. While Indian classical music lives on improvisation, the rules are set but are loose. It's like you are allowed to stick to a mean and can have sufficient standard deviation. But western classical is to read the notations and to be a delta peaked distribution on that, no standard deviation! Depends on your choice whichever you like... Nevertheless keep on exploring and promulgate the Indian Classical music as much as you can.

On the lighter side, I'm terribly upset since you haven't shared your recent list of music to me. I remember to discover those awesome pieces in the NETLAB, and now that's all I have till date, except I included a few western classical and songs of different languages. One more observation: "But what really gets me hooked is the classical music", you called classical music a hooker !!!!!

Manasi said...

Read ur other blogs...Solitude enhances the writing , is it? Quite frequent blogs

Really u r the poet....While reading ur blogs or comments one sees the same harmony between the words as you see in ur notes...Keep writing.

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Anonymous said...

Good article. Thank you.

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