Sachi R

Obiter dicta on music, men and matters

Archive for September, 2009

Jewellery branded as Poverty

Posted by rsachi on September 30, 2009

The British Crown Jewels

I am amazed and speechless reading äbout this new brand of extraordinary jewellery pens in the name of a man whom Churchill called ‘a half-naked fakir’.

Quote from today’s The Hindu:

‘Mahatma’ pens from Mont Blanc –241 pieces of the white gold pen will be available

Mont Blanc to come out with a limited-series pen on the Father of the Nation. The high-end pen is priced around Rs.14 lakh, according to a watch retailer. The pen comes with a gold wire entwined by hand around the middle, which “evokes the roughly wound yarn on the spindle with which Gandhi spun everyday.”


There is also the ‘Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition 3000’ pen available, both as a fountain pen and a roller ball. Three thousand piece each will be available worldwide. The pen which is available for about Rs.1.7 lakh (fountain pen) and Rs.1.5 lakh (roller ball) comes with sterling silver mountings on the cap and the cone.

Unquote

I remember a joke. A rich school girl’s essay on poverty goes like this:
There was once a poor girl. Everyone at her home was poor- her parents, servants, drivers, nannies, cooks and gardeners!

Mahatma’s India in 2009 scoffs at jokes about cattle class and holy cows. But the nation seems to miss this joke! What next? Slumdog diamond necklaces, Garibi Hatao designer wear and finally Bhikari wedding packages in Bangkok!

No wonder we build temples to self-effacing saints with golden thrones and crescents, and throw lavish parties to celebrate the poor!

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Posted in Mahatma Gandhi holy cow cattle class Churchill half-naked fakir Garibi hatao Mont Blanc gold pen jewellery diamonds Bhikari | Leave a Comment »

The Barcelona Bull – my first HD video on YouTube

Posted by rsachi on September 27, 2009

Guys, long time, no see. Was away in Korea, trying to earn my bread, rather my inedible veggie noodles.
I made this HD movie with the Canon 5D MkII. Shows me how hard it is to make videos. Kudos to all those who lug heavy cameras and produce the best of the best.
Barcelona, where lived Picasso for many years, boasts many cultural wonders. You should see the funny Woody Allen movie, Vicky Christina Barcelona to soak up the mood, music and sights of this busy city. When I visited their arts village, I bought this ceramic bull in Gaudi colours.
And the compelling music I have added in the YouTube video comes from Percussions II.

Posted in the Bull Picasso Percussion Barcelona Woody Allen Vicky Christina Barcelona Gaudi | Leave a Comment »

Samyogamu

Posted by rsachi on September 19, 2009

(courtesy: Internet)

Of course! Shiva is the mahayogi. Kundalini is the fire. Through the union of praana and kundalini shakti, or as the samyoga of the two, he will ascend the seven chakras or saptaswaras. And connect with Omkara.
So the veena is also a metaphor. But all said and done, Thyagaraja is the quintessential musician, with nadayoga and bhaktiyoga, blessed as he is by a direct vision of Narada, the mahavainika and mahabhakta!
Truly interesting thoughts, albeit not original I’m sure.

(folks, I am unhappy that I am not following the Kyoto convention while writing Indian terms, but then it will also look a bit odd to read as if it is a procession of camels….like mOkshamu galadA- sAramati-tyAgarAja and so on. So please forgive me..in fact forgive me in general for this blog which is quite a violent intrusion into your space!)

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Mokshamu galada

Posted by rsachi on September 19, 2009

Mokshamu galada
This highly evocative song has been rendered by the Madras String Quartet (Mr. Narasimhan) in a different style. It has been rendered meditatively, with western concepts of harmony. I must admit I have my own reservations about this kind of fusion as it seems to lose the evocative spontaneity of Carnatic music.
The link to their presentation on YouTube is here:
Now this song has some interesting words. If you click here, you will go to a very nice article in another blog posted by Mr. Govindan:
Let me give you my interpretation.
Thyagaraja says that Shiva, who plays the veena, is the living embodiment of Jnana and Bhakti. By knowing his nature, those who are able to combine the appreciation of true music with real devotion (=surrender) will be able to liberate themselves while embodied, and only they will get true liberation or moksha. Thyagaraja is making a vital point. There is no liberation unless you get liberated while living in your body. What is the way? Through music!
Why music? Because it emerges from the source of Omkaara by the combination of Praana (life breath) and Anala ( the fire of life or body metabolism). The body is the medium for making music by sourcing the original Omkaara. To make music, you need your life breath and also the effort of making music using your bodily energy, and by staying connected  with Omkaara. ( There is another piece in this blog, the Sound Unheard).
Once we do this, we are able to understand the essence of music and also develop true devotion to the ultimate. Then we become Shiva, who is in that eternal blissful state, playing on the veena!
I found a photo on the Internet of a beautiful sculpture of Shiva playing the veena. See how blissful he is!
Jai Ho to our great Indian culture which has Shiva, veena, Omkaara, Thyagaraja, sculpture, and KVN!
KVN’s 1967 Music Academy rendering of this song is playable by clicking the link on the left panel.
Enjoy!

Posted in Sachi_R rsachi KVN Music Academy Carnatic music Karanatik music Saramati Saaramathi Thyagaraja Shiva Siva vina veena Omkar Omkaara praana anala Mokshamu galada Madras Quartet Narasimhan harmony fusion | Leave a Comment »

An idea for a Carnatic FM radio channel

Posted by rsachi on September 19, 2009

Sangeeta Setu FM Project

Music is an instinct unique to man. It uplifts one’s mood in a faster and deeper manner than anything else known to man. Music is the staple of Indian culture. Indian cinema can do with mediocre actors, indifferent storyline, poor direction, flickering photography, but not without music.

Indian classical music is like no other. It is based on thousands of years of artistic evolution and a robust structure. It has been passed on from teacher to student better than anything else. It has been preserved jealously as Gharana and Bani. It does not create a regional rift in spite of being called North Indian or Carnatic. It shows an unparalleled maturity in having absorbed foreign instruments, cross currents of musical milieu, lyrics from different inspirational streams, and moods of nine and more hues, and finally even the impact of electronification.

The genius of the 20th century musicians was to develop, spread and inculcate an abiding tradition of classical music using every modern development. The teacher started traveling on a bicycle, as did the student. The performer criss-crossed the country in trains, buses and motorcars. The traditions traveled thousands of miles and left their marks in an intriguing manner for musicologists to unearth. Witness this fact. The same Baroda court that honoured Veene Sheshanna in a procession of caparisoned elephants as grand as Jamboo savari, also clasped to its bosom a great musician from Mysore called Baksh. And his successor was the great Sufi mystic Inayat Khan. Inayat Khan reached the peak of classical music, gave some incredible 78 rpm recordings on instruments and in his voice at HMV Calcutta before 1910, and finally transcended his musical career into one of Sufi mysticism forever before he was forty. Any wonder that I see hints of Carnatic influence on the Sufi and Qawwali music of northwestern India?

The biggest influence on the spread of classical Indian music was the AIR. It is only very very recently that classical musicians have stopped to revere the role of AIR in their musical careers. Whereas Indian television has abject dependence on film songs and dance sequences, AIR has always been a huge promoter of Indian classical music. Even a thousand Maharajas could not have done as much for Indian classical music what AIR has done for the spread and nurturing of interest in the people across the land.

There is nothing more egalitarian or socialistic than radio. It is a powerful mass medium that reaches an expensive HiFi system as well as a humble transistor. And the genius of Indian classical music is that the listener can enthusiastically soak up the music whatever its bandwidth, by virtue of his supercomputer of an auditory-cerebral processor that works on enhancing the signal to noise much like the mythical swan that could drink milk and leave the water alone. My love of music was my mother’s gift, and she spent a princely Rs 400 buying a fine radio in the ‘50s. That is true also for many other families in the country.

Thanks to the advent of LPs, tape decks and cassettes, you will find here and there wonderful private collections of classical music of at least 5 decades. Great artistes who are no more with us will always be with us through these recordings. But there has never been a great way to reach this music to more people, until the advent of the Internet and the MP3 format. So today, here and there you will find well-meaning NRIs and techie enthusiasts putting great concert recordings on the net.

But the charm of the radio in its simplicity, energy efficiency, economy and the mass reach seems to have betrayed classical music. There are no FM channels in most Indian cities where you can listen to classical music. Some radio stations like Chennai and Kolkata FM stations still broadcast classical music, but with perhaps waning popularity or reach, in the clutter of TV stations, the chatter of FM Channels and the frenetic life style of most urbanites. In other words, something could and need be done to improve the marriage of FM radio and classical music.

Sangeeta Setu FM is an effort in this direction. The founding ideas are:

It will start with 2 hours (9:30-10:30 AM and PM) every day, perhaps and extra hour or two on weekends.

It will be Bangalore-based.

It will have only Indian classical music.

The music will be entirely listener’s choice based.

The listeners CAN ALSO bring in their music… their old recording or collection, and present it, with a brief personal introduction.

A Sangeeta Setu team for audio quality, musical content and contextual appeal, will preview the content.

Invited experts will comment at the end of the pieces about the music and the musicians.

Listeners will be encouraged to send in their musical recordings.

In other words, the FM broadcast by listener participation, harnessing the widespread gold mine of recordings, with expert presentation will be the hallmark of Sangeeta Setu FM.

The entire project will be based on NO PROFIT, NO COMMERICAL INTEREST AND NO ADVERTISING. But it will need money via contributions.

It will be an offering to music lovers and musicians.

Initially time will be purchased from good quality and popular FM channels and eventually Sangeeta Setu will have its own station.

Posted in Carnatic music AIR radio FM dedicated to classical music listener's choice experts FM | Leave a Comment »

Laugh with Jerry Lewis

Posted by rsachi on September 17, 2009

This morning they had Jerry Lewis on Channel 7 TV. He is the famous old comedian from US on a tour here. He was asked to tell a joke.

“I am feeling the itch to go to New York and soak up the life there. I go and get on the subway (metro). And I see a tall, lanky young man. He has a beaky nose with a big ring on it. He is wearing a chain from his ear to round his neck. He has his hair waved up nearly 12 inches, dyed in bright green and orange.

As I stare at him, he asks me, ‘what. Old man, haven’t you done anything different in your time?’

I reply. ‘well, I did. 20 years ago I had sex with a parrot. And I think you’re my son!!!’ “

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As I enter my office, the iPhone espies a lovely bottlebrush

Posted by rsachi on September 17, 2009

Shot with Genius app on iPhone 3.0, processed with Photogene app, and uploaded via Pixelpipe app

Posted in iPhone 3.0 photogene genius Sydney bottlebrush | Leave a Comment »

Posted by rsachi on September 14, 2009

In the first rays of the sun, I see my emerald ring glow and can’t help but click this iPhone photo, in sheer, despicable vanity.

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C.V. Raman and the Mridangam

Posted by rsachi on September 13, 2009

I had read writings of C.V. Raman on the mridangam when I was in IIT. Later I had a chance to visit the great acoustics lab in IISC, a legacy of Raman and maintained by Prof B S Ramakrishna.
I heard once from a mridangam vidwan that there was a meeting between Raman and Palghat Mani Iyer. Mani Iyer was at first dismissive of science and technology in the art of mridangam playing. Then Raman showed him how the vibration patterns of the mridangam membrane could be analyzed and it could even be tuned more precisely by using scientific techniques.
You will find pages from a book about Raman’s work on mridangam in the link I have cited above. Some quotes:

Posted in The science of mridangam design C.V. Raman membrane vibration analysis | Leave a Comment »

Mridangam – the greatest percussion instrument ever

Posted by rsachi on September 12, 2009

Mridangam – the greatest percussion instrument ever
I am crazy about the mridangam. I have been lucky to hear the great vidwans on several occasions. Almost every time I hear some other rhythm or percussion instrument, I cannot help thinking how great the mridangam is.
I am nobody to push such a view, but I still would like to insist that the mridangam is the greatest percussion instrument. I give you ten reasons:
  1. The mridangam makes an impact throughout a concert. 
  2. It has great scope for improvisation, in the song, during neraval and swaras and also in the tani avarthanam. It changes colours with the light items, much like the dancer changes her costume for the second part of a recital.
  3. A good mridangam player can make you feel the concert was worth it just by virtue of his tani avarthanam.
  4. The mridangam player sits in the front, and is on the “right side”of the main artiste. He has the maximum eye contact with the musician as well as the audience. I believe he enjoys the concert the most!!!
  5. The instrument is placed horizontally, and played with both hands, with much finger dexterity. It is highly ergonomic.
  6. The instrument has a great tonal depth, and is tuned prominently to the sruti.
  7. The left side adds tremendous emphasis to the strokes, and makes a profound difference to the song accompaniment. The right side has a great tonal quality and in the right hands sounds like a stringed instrument.
  8. The accomplished mridangam player can wow you with a tani for a long period of time, with a variety of patterns and strokes and sounds, at different volumes, as a great example of improvisation.
  9. The mridangam is quite travel-hardy.
  10. The mridangam sounds better without electronic amplification. In fact in later years, Mani Iyer eschewed the mike as a modern evil!
I just heard some fusion music. After listening to these pieces, you will agree how great the mridangam is! The artiste playing mridangam is Satish Kumar and the album is a live recording in 2003 called Colours of India (Ganesh Kumaresh).You can access it here:
At http://www.sangeethapriya.org/, you can access a great Lalgudi Jayaraman concert on the AIR with Mani Iyer. Just the varnam is enough to know Mani Iyer’s greatness.
Palghat Raghu’s tani avarthanam in the KVN album from Nonesuch Records has been posted in the site http://www.palghatraghu.org/. It is the defining piece of a tani avarthanam, according to me.
Umayalpuram Sivaraman has shown his prowess in hundreds of recordings, and I have been privileged to listen to some really great ones with KVN and Lalgudi. His DVD on the techniques of mridangam playing is encyclopedic.
I think the mridangam is India’s greatest contribution to the world of musical instruments, and we don’t celebrate this fact enough.

Posted in mridangam Palghat Raghu Umayalpuram Sivaraman Mani Iyer KVN Lalgudi Ganesh Kumaresh Carnatic music percussion instrument tani avarthanam | Leave a Comment »