Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

A thought for Thursday morning

August 16, 2012

Money and fame can be impediments to innovation!

Von Freeman always considered his relative obscurity — which lasted nearly until the final years of his career, when the world started to recognize his genius — a blessing. It enabled him to forge an extremely unusual but instantly recognizable sound, to pursue off-center musical ideas that were not likely to be welcomed in the commercial marketplace.

“They said I played out of tune, played a lot of wrong notes, a lot of weird ideas,” Freeman told the Tribune in 1992. “But it didn’t matter, because I didn’t have to worry about the money — I wasn’t making (hardly) any. I didn’t have to worry about fame — I didn’t have any. I was free.”

Freeman used that freedom from commercial pressures to pursue a music that was as unorthodox as it was intellectually demanding, as idiosyncratic as it was deeply autobiographical. In this sense, he represented the quintessential jazz musician, forging a musical voice that was unique to him, an art that was influential but ultimately inimitable.

From here; link via Fabiorojas.

The album with Vijay Siva on the cover in Gandhi cap

January 15, 2012

Yes; that is the one I am looking for for quite sometime now! Vijay Siva mentions it here:

One of my concerts of patriotic songs during the 50th year of Independence was released as an album. And the album cover has me wearing a Gandhi cap!

But the album is elusive!

NB: Any pointers will be appreciated!

The neurology of pleasing music

September 3, 2011

The most pleasing musical chords have simple mathematical relationships between the different sound frequencies within them, but the source of this perception is mysterious. A recent mathematical model suggests that the key may be the rhythmically consistent firing of neurons in response to a harmonious pair of frequencies. Now the researchers who developed the model report 2 September in Physical Review Letters that they have quantified the effect by calculating the information content of their model’s neural signals and showed that it increases for tone pairs that are more pleasant sounding. The model may also provide insights into other sensations besides hearing.

From here; do read the whole piece. It is short, lucid and also contains some nice pointers to other reading material towards the end, if you are so inclined.

An evening of Carnatic music

March 11, 2011

Today, I listened to Vishwanath Parasuram‘s concert (Prof. Shankar memorial concert); nearly two and a half hours of uninterrupted Carnatic music, and loved it!

Response to N Ram

March 5, 2011

ArunN has written a response to N Ram following Ram’s speeches and writings about the thin-skinned-ness of Carnatic musicians; I loved this part, especially:

The ploy employed by N. Ram, looking together his earlier speech and the above response to TMK, goes like this: First, you provoke someone by proclaiming in public something like “that guy is not nice you know; he will get provoked for any silly thing I say about him” and when that guy comes out “hey, that is a silly thing you are saying about me”, you get back at him by looking at the crowd and hollering, “see, see, I told you so, right?”.

In any case, my respect for Hindu as a newspaper and Ram as a journalist have been going down; this is just yet another point on the curve.

Extinction too is a way of life

February 25, 2011

Even musical instruments become extinct, and in not so far in the past:

The Tirupamburam lineage traces its ancestry to a vocalist – Amritakavi Kuppiah Pillai, who had learnt music from Muthutandavar. His son Aiyan Pillai followed in his father’s footsteps but grandson Sesha Pillai became an exponent of the Saranda, a now extinct musical instrument.

Next was Swaminatha Pillai, who, born in 1840, chose to become a nagaswaram artist. His son Natarajasundaram, born in 1869, followed in his father’s footsteps and with his brother Sivasubramania Pillai, formed the first nagaswaram duo. Natarajasundaram Pillai is today better remembered for being the first to publish in the Tamil script Muthuswami Dikshitar kritis with notation.

Given the array of musical choice, it was perhaps no wonder that Natarajasundaram Pillai’s elder son Swaminatha Pillai chose a new line – that of a flautist. It was left to his brothers to continue the nagaswaram tradition.

Ram Guha’s tribute to Bhimsen

February 1, 2011

Is here; he draws the attention to the influence of medieval poets on Bhimsen’s music and also makes the point that Bhimsen’s music can be meditative (ruminative is the word that Guha uses).

There is also a reference to one of my favourite musicians — Venkatesh Kumar — in Guha’s piece. And, it is time I located some Puttaraj Gavai.

I have heard Bhimsen sing soulful Devaranamas, while Mallikarjun’s renditions of Basaveshwara vachanas are moving; but, as far as I remember, I never heard Bhimsen sing vacahnas nor Mansur sing Devaranamas. So, I was surprised to see Ram Guha mentioning that Mansur liked to sing Purandaradasa’s songs.

Bharadwaj Rangan’s bitty ruminations on Bhimsen and Hindustani

January 26, 2011

How can I resist the title or a link to the nice piece? I see that but for Bangalore AIRs Geetharaadhana and Dasara padagalu, I also would have taken much longer to discover Panditji!

Bhimsen Joshi: RIP

January 24, 2011

I understand Pandit Bhimsen Joshi passed away (thanks to a note from Hariharan on Google buzz). I would like to (re-)share this story from one of my earlier posts:

On this occasion, after Bhimsen Joshi finished his recital, Pahadi Sanyal asked for the name of the last raga sung by him. Bhimsen came over and touched Pahadi Sanyal’s feet and said, ‘Isko Chayya kahke seekha hamney (I learnt it as Chayya).’ The confusion in our minds was due to Bhimsen dwelling on the nishad in the ascending scale, which neither Pahadikaka nor myself had ever heard in Chhaya or Chhayanat. Fifty years ago, Bhimsen was a young musician who had already made a mark in Calcutta while Pahadi Sanyal was a well known aging film star. That Bhimsen touched Pahadi Sanyal’s feet was not particularly unexpected but noticing the embarrassment on Pahadi Sanyal’s face he said, ” I don’t think you have spotted me, Sahab, I am the same Bhimsen who came to you for training when you lived in Raja Basant Roy Road.’

‘Good lord!’ said Pahadikaka after the usual pleasantries were over and Bhimsen left us. ‘I can’t believe it is the same boy. He came to me all the way from Poona to learn music. He had a voice like a buffalo calf with cold. I told him he had no future as a singer but I might be able to find him a petty job in the New Theatres Studio. He lived in my house for a while. I would pay him a tenner or two for running errands and then he suddenly disappeared one day. Good heavens! Astafullah! How can this man be the same Bhimsen?’

Ram Guha once said that in this country only two sets of people try for greatness — sportsmen and musicians, and probably only the later achieve it. Bhimsen is certainly one of those who achieved it, as is clear from the story above.

On Higgins Bhagavathar and classical music on TV

January 8, 2011

Here is Sriram Venkatkrishnan on Higgins Bhagavathar:

Jon Higgins, who combined research with a performer’s career, was therefore something of a wonder. His singing and his pronunciation, as though he had spent a whole lifetime soaking in Carnatic music, amazed everyone. After all, as Higgins humorously observed in an article written for The Indian Fine Arts Society’s souvenir in 1967-68, “is it not an obvious prerequisite that one must be born on the banks of the Cauvery” to be able to appreciate, let alone sing Carnatic music?

While we are on the topic of classical music, Doordarshan continues its incomparable service to classical music with its specific time slots for classical music — be it national, podhigai or chandana. Of the satellite TV channels, it probably is only Jaya TV that gives some classical music; all the rest  give film music, reality shows and bhakti music but nothing that is truly classical. A pity! Wouldn’t a classical music TV channel be a great idea?