Archive for March, 2016

Acknowledging the gift of our musical landscape

On this day of rejuvenation in early spring, I am writing this note to express my acknowledgement and gratitude for everything we take for granted in music and the musical landscape that we are exposed to today.

We live in an era where there is so much available gratis. I am not speaking about just the recordings and the videoclips available on the internet.

I am talking about the very systems of music that we take for granted. The staff notation, advanced notating software, universally accepted conventions, the large repertoire of music that has evolved from the Gregorian chants to the large scores of John Williams.

For those of us of Indian origin – we are certainly grateful for the Bollywood melodies of yesteryears, songs that gave us great joy while we walked to school, and the songs that continue to delight our children, the voices that we remember in our sleep – the melodies that make us go back in time and feel young again.

For those initiated into Indian art music, arent we glad that ragas exist! What would this world be like without a mian ki malhar or a bhairav or a senjurutti or an ananda bhairavi? Our musical senses are conditioned by what we as a community have listened to. My father’s generation was thrilled to bits with the 78 RPM recordings of yesteryear masters. My generation listened to the radio and to tape recorded music in the days prior to the proliferation of sabhas.

Most humans have a taste for music; music elevates moods; brings comfort, memorializes occasions. Some of us humans have the ability to enunciate musical distinctions such as the raga, the swara and tala even as mere toddlers. Some of us have the ability to learn them later; some of us have the ability to set aside all these distinctions and just enjoy the feelings that music creates. The bottomline is that there exists a system (that parallels the order in nature) that has evolved over centuries in our collective cognition such that it is possible for some of us to latch on even as toddlers.  Particularly in the world of Karnatic music, there exists in the public domain a treasury of compositions dating back to pre Hyder times – a treasury whose tip has merely been scathed in today’s exploration of ragas. It is thanks to this system and the treasury of compositions that today’s concerts and festivals (that in turn shape today’s musical landscape) flourish.

Our children have a wider access to musical distinctions. Opportunities abound today for those that want to sing, play, perform, create, innovate. And these in turn will shape the musical landscape of tomorrow’s generation.

As we celebrate spring again this year, I chose to acknowledge the system of Indian Art music that exists with its fine musical distinctions and a vast repertoire of compositions that beckon us to learn and grow more each day. I acknowledge the masters that have nurtured and shaped the musical landscape that I was born into. I acknowledge the proverbial Sarasvati that sits majestically on every voice that rises in song and poetry. I am grateful for every voice that wants to sing and for every every ear that loves to listen.

Kanniks Kannikeswaran

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March 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment


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