Sunday, January 16, 2005

Sound of Music

As one of my friends used to say "music is god", a religion, a faith, a belief that knows no boundaries. It is one universal language that everyone understands, no matter where one is from, what language one speaks, what colour one is or what one does for a living. Beatles are heard in India and are appreciated as equally as they would be anywhere in the western world, while Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Zakir Hussain and other exponents of Indian music are heard and appreciated world wide.

Google defines music as follows :

I find the following closest to my perception :

“The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre”

But the terms melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre are as fuzzy as it can get, my definition of melody could mean Metallica while someone else’s definition of melody would be Illayaraja or M. S. And in different moods, the same perception of melody oscillates. This is one of the reasons I picked this definition as it really does not define but leaves each one to interpret it for oneself.

There’s this aesthetic quality about music that appeals to everyone. No matter what kind of music one listens to, I feel that the underlying strains are the same. This is described by the basic Indian classical music’s fundamentals, the theory of ragas. By saying so, I am not against any other for of music or do not mean to say that it cannot be expressed by the same. As with everyone, I prefer to tread on familiar grounds. The same can be translated to any other style of music. As far as I am concerned, its all in the notes and the theory of raga puts these notes together in the most comprehensive and systematic manner known to me. This was so beautifully illustrated in the Swarutsav- 2001- Streams In Confluence, by Ganesh-Kumaresh and Tafiq Qureshi. If you can ever get to listen to this music, please do, it’ll help you understand what I am talking about. Ragas transcend the boundaries of language and lyrics. They convey human emotions at different levels.

So much for digressing, coming back to what I was going to say, no matter what kind of music, the underlying strain reduces itself to a particular raga or a combination thereof that combines to produce that effect, that WOW we feel when we hear good music, doesn’t matter if you’re listening to Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman or Bryan Adams or Vanessa Mae or Bach or Linkin Park.

Coming to the point, not so much that I am indeed making a point here, the folklore of Andalusia, Spain is as beautiful as the delightful crooning of Sanjay Subramanium on full flow at Madras in December’s music season. It’s all boils down to these building blocks or strains of ragas. If one can open his/her mind to this, one can truly appreciate all kinds of music and the kind of nuances and the subtlety in each. Like the famous words go, "they are all the same and yet they are different".


“Music is indeed GOD”


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