My recent discoveries in the world of music

If you wander off in your typing errors in this day of Corona scare, you may stumble upon the Jazz band Codona. All the quarantine has helped me discover the world of jazz, albeit only the surface of it.

Collin Walcott, Don Cherry, Nana Vasconcelos. I will not pretend that I knew them before but I do feel their courage to explore a completely new form of music was commendable. I can imagine listening to this at night after a hard day.

I was looking up for Philip Glass compositions on piano when I stumbled upon his Sanskrit Opera called “Satyagraha”. I had not not imagined a Sanskrit Opera because the east and west have traditionally taken different paths to music. Glass, however, bravely took this opportunity and created a fusion. It was to my pleasure that I discovered the jazz musicians had done it before the classicists. That’s when I stumbled on Codona.

Loosely based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi , it forms the second part of Glass’s “Portrait Trilogy” of operas about men who changed the world

And then there was the Taus instrument. It looked like the Sitar being played like violin. Turns out that the Taus was invented in the first half of 16th century- around the same time that the violin family came into being.

Sandeep Singh on the taus (or mayuri veena). The tune feels devotional and reminds me of temples in early morning or afternoons.

Indian instruments were, in that respect never behind their western counterparts in terms of variety and color of not surpassing them. The Age of Enlightenment, however, gave a boost to all of Europe later on where it surpassed the world in most respects. The support of catholic churches and powerful monarchs far surpassed what puppet ministers of colonial rulers could manage to patronize their artists. The invention of Operas as temples of western music was hastened by the money industrial revolution and colonial bullying brought to Europe.

In the age of digital music production, it feels difficult that a revolution in classical music(a sort of “revivalism” that some in this country would love) is possible. The form of content creation and delivery has changed. The costs of a grand symphony are prohibitively large for most in the west. The East will find it difficult to draw large audiences to sustain such an enterprise. This is especially true when the world today offers cheaper and easier forms of entertainment – with just the touch of a button, on the elevator or inside a car.

The Jazz and, in more recent times, Rap culture is proof that music will adapt to tell stories of modern times. What has been a bit concerning is the lack of original musical styles developing organically in the East. While the far east has adapted to the western styles of music quickly, India has had a healthy film industry supporting its classical forms. The ‘pop’ culture made an entry in the 90s thanks to growing affluence and a healthy cassette market. This was soon overshadowed by reducing profits thanks to rampant piracy which more or less killed the industry. Bollywood and film scoring, despite all its flaws, has been the last refuge for musicians in India.

Gamelan survies thanks to tourism in Bali and the general spiritual way of Balinese life.

I will continue my journey in the world of music and learn and discover more with time.