Archive for September 18th, 2006

Another musical evening!

September 18, 2006

We attended a recital by the Northwestern University faculty this evening. It was a very different experience for us who are used to carnatic concerts.

The first thing that surprised us was that there was absolutely no participation from the audience; I guess, Pran Nath, who famously said,

One or two noisy enthusiasts are bad enough. But there are rows and rows of them doing this together, like crickets in the monsoon (From Sheila Dhar‘s Raga’n’Josh).

about the audience in a Madurai Mani Iyer concert would have liked this audience immensely 😉 The next surprising thing was that almost all musicians (except for the tenor) used written notes while playing — the pianists even had somebody to turn pages!). Probably, it is more about technical virtuosity than improvisation; however, it is quite possible that the notes were just an outline; without any training in western classical, it is difficult for me to decide.

For most of the concert, there were no microphones — not obvious ones anyway. I especially liked the tenor — it gives an immediacy to the music, when it is heard without the mediation of microphones. The auditorium, though small, was a very good one — we could listen till all the vibrations died down, which produces a nice sensation — and, the audience waited till the very end to show their appreciation.

I also noticed that plucking the violin was used extensively. Finally, in the Jazz selections that were played, there was a faint resemblance to the carntic concerts — like thani playing, the pianist and the double bass player had their chance with the drummer, in the middle; then, the trombone player played a few phrases; then the song ended to the cascading notes from the drummer.

The only disconcerting thing about the concert was the mixture of genres — we heard some Mozart, some operatic singing, some Stravinsky, some blues and some jazz. I liked the tenor the best.

Great wall of Chinese!

September 18, 2006

Here is an essay called Why Chinese is so damn hard (pdf); link via Savage minds.

Books — other peoples’ and one’s own!

September 18, 2006

Here is a novelist, poet and professor Jay Parini about books — other people’s and his own (Link via Maud Newton):

Other people’s books draw my attention, of course. They excite curiosity about their owners and the worlds they inhabit. But it’s finally my own books that matter, as they tell me about where I’ve been, and where I hope to go.

A nice article!