Was at Dr L.Subramaniam’s annual fusion music festival last night. He started with a real foot stomper called ‘Indian Express’ (poetic justice indeed, since the festival itself is sponsored by the Times of India) and ended the evening with Don’t Leave Me. In between were pieces by his wife Kavita Krishnamurthy, their kids and two other musicians. Except for the odd flash I pretty much forgot HolidayIQ for over 2 hours; evidently the music was absorbing.
This is one of the better things to happen for Travellers. As I wait for another delayed flight at Bangalore airport the magic of online music hits me. Switching between Saavn (the online Indian music service funded by Tiger) and TuneIn Radio (a worldwide selection of internet radio stations) I am definitely spoilt for choice.
…in which I promised to tuck away all things not tourism, not travel, not food & likely not of interest…
A couple of months ago I achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the last person in urban India to subscribe to Worldspace.
For those of you who have been training for a Mars mission for the last 3 years and missed out on earthbound news, Worldspace is a worldwide satellite radio that has got a huge number of subscribers in India.
I have a pretty catholic taste in music. And Worldspace indulges me no end, which I love. I close the day on either the Hindustani Classical or the Urdu channel – amazing soporifics, incidentally. And the first light of dawn (8 am or thereabouts to be more exact) brings up Shruti, the Carnatic channel. As the day progress, I then move from Country to International Amore to Classical Rock and on to Hindi flim music till I complete the circle, back in the capable hands of kishori amonkar or ghulam ali.
Religion, Spirituality and Science meet in a unique consensus on the primacy of sound in Creation – whether it is the Aum of Hinduism or the Big Bang of Physics. And the thing that we call Music is simply the arrangement of sounds that connect us to those mysterious forces that gave us our Life.
In Mumbai over the last two days on some work, I decided to turn over a new leaf. Instead of doing 18 meetings in one day and flopping tiredly on to my hotel bed, I did a bit less of work and decided to take in a show. A quick glance at what was happening in Mumbai took me to a Carnatic music show, Dakshinayan, run by Banyan Tree at the Nehru Centre. It must have been at least 15 years since I last went for a Carnatic music concert and boy, did I enjoy it.
There was music in the air in my childhood, what with a mother deeply interested in it and a sister learning it for many years. I even had a minor & not very productive brush with Mridangam, although it did leave me with a deep and abiding interest in percussion.
Shashank S played the flute that evening. Shashank is among the young, new breed of Indian musicians. He spoke to the crowd in English, educated us a bit on the connect between Carnatic & Hindustani, played extraordinarily versatile stuff and generally gave us all a great time. For far too long, with a few notable exceptions, India’s classical music virtuosos have not felt the need to communicate to a wider, more cosmopolitan audience. I think that is about to change. Shashank and artists of his ilk will do it. It is this breed that can eventually connect Indian music to the wider world.
The next time you are on work in Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore or Kolkata or Chennai or Pune or…, take time away from your schedule to figure what is on in the city. I wonder why I never did it before.
(The sound of the Australian aboriginal ‘Didgeridoo’ – from Youtube)
Goofing off after lunch, I reached Youtube and got into a music-y mood. Wandered through a live version of Sultans of Swing by Knopfler & Clapton, peeked at a Garfunkel number and ended up at an old live concert video of Kishore Kumar.
What is it about Music? Music changes everything. It energises, it touches, it saddens. It makes you reflect, it helps you remember an old flame, it makes you want to jump into a pool, it puts you to sleep. What is this thing called Sound and what is this amazing stuff called Music?
You cannot touch it, you cannot see it, but you sure can feel it. This most primordial of life’s manifestations, the ‘aum’ that triggered life, this astonishing thing called sound. And, set in a particular sequence, it has the power to elevate you, transport you, destroy you. That is music.
There is a kind of hush, all over the world…, sang Karen Carpenter many years ago. But for me, more than ‘a hush’, there is music all over the world. Which is one of the best reasons to wander around. Tuaregs string their sounds in one way, the aborigines in Australia another way, the Khmers yet another way and the Latvians a completely different way. But whichever way they sequence it, the result is always arresting. That is music and it is clearly the language of the world.