Friday, May 22, 2015

Chakra :: Swara Sandhya

A rāga holds a series of notes, guided by the eight parts it falls into over the 24-hour cycle. More than the melody, it's intended to convey the mood of the day, of the seasons, to color, to tint one's mood. During music theory, we also learnt about the underlying scales of a rāga in the form of swaras. Yes, it's as complicated as all scales are on any musical instrument, and it's a brand new set of music theory from the western classical learnt as a kid. My head exploded from counting the beats. Each rāga is a 72-note scale with a different number of notes ascending and descending; up to 12 notes can form the octave of a rāga. I was pleased that the friends invited me to Esplanade's Chakra: Swara Sandhya: Confluence of Sunset Melodies.

We heard a series of rāgas written for dusk. It was a unique pairing of musical instruments- the sitar (Shakir Khan) with the violin (Srividya Sriram), the tabla (Nawaz Mirajkar) with the mridangam (T Ramanan). Together they form a jugalbandi- a performance of Indian classical music in a duet by the various musicians. This concert saw a pairing of the two streams of Indian classical music- Carnatic (south) and Hindustani (north).

Beyond the very basic, I know nothing about the musicians or the musical pieces. Did a lot of frantic reading before and after the concert. The more knowledgeble friends gave me a summary of the pieces as well. Whewwww. All that mattered was, the musicians were very good. Sunset rāgas are meant to evoke feelings of reflection, grace, devotion. They can also be playful, upbeat and pensive at the same time. I'm not proficient at identifying rāgas aurally. Not good at describing because I'm not familiar enough with the beats. Read coherent words and thoughtful observations of the pieces over at notabilia.

It was a close to two-hour concert. Luckily it began at 6pm; we caught most of it. A pity we had to slip out before the end in order to catch some bits of Cheating Sons at the Outdoor Theatre. Wanted to hear the new songs played live from their recently released eponymous album. What a glorious evening of vastly different kinds of music enjoyed with the friends. Loved it.

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