20 September 2009

Prosody, GOD and me ;)

The tittle does not really mean anything. Here are flashes for the day:

I do not know how English poems and their prosody is studied. But I see that it is very hard job. Hard because the writing does not have enough information to judge how that will be sung. It is another matter that a poem can be sung in different ways or not sung at all. Then when writing the author must have some idea on how the poems rhythm structure is going to be. I do not call anything that does not have a regular pattern of rhythms inherent, a poem. It is a waste of time in the name of writing poem. It is another matter that we lose rhythms but that is not a reason for not having one at all. Anyway, I realised this tough task of classifying English poems because in Kannada we can enumerate syllables and understand the structure of the poem. When we read an English poem we can get a sense of it following a pattern but how exactly that is quantified is for those who know more to answer. Do not tell me we use syllabic markers or something I will have to go figure out what the hell that is.

At the same time, I saw how passionate the Pastor of the church was while preaching after the prayers where I spent some time thinking about prosody of the lyrics and enjoyed the amazing music. The preaching was about "Burial of Jesus". I know about 'religious emotions' but what surprised me is this infliction that we as a humans have: 'obsession about one thing of person'. Scores of temples and mosques included preaching about GOD: Rama, Jesus, and Allah. Everywhere they read a 'scripture'. Same story is repeated. It is a sheer waste of human energy to bite the dust of the 'scriptures' until we die. It is an unforgivable disease which must stop. Not only because it is our weakness but also because it steals away the time we need to spend on introspection and invent. To settle the scores and disputes is one and to DO something is another. I am a religious man. It however is my own business and to me it is about how much it can help me in civilizing me.

I was looking for a Bhagavad-Gita book that only explains the philosophy and not throw up the melodrama and out dated aesthetics of the spent millenniums! I could not find one. Let me know if you know such a book. I would like to read it. If I do not find one I will have to write one I guess! But then I will need to understand the philosophy of xyzYoga. That could be quite a bit for this bone head. From what I have read there appears to be a lot of additions made later on. Some parts are mystic blurring the real thing. Is every word in it right! Hell no! If there is GOD she is neither limited nor handicapped to only whisper some people and let others fight about it. But some people who push their own agenda do exist. I better be more carefull about them than about GOD.


18 September 2009

A religion called government

Yes! This is a new religion! If you do not know this religion then well you already follow this religion: your government. I will try to explain this in the post.

Religions prescribe, inculcate and sometimes force things because "they" or "some" or an "enlightened one" "realised" that they are good for everyone. Look what the governments are doing! A board in the first floor (ground) of my apartment building read "The laundry room door must be kept closed after 10 PM - By law". Now, they tell me when I should close the door!! Haven't we heard them (Govt ; whatever it means) say things like, "wear helmet", "do not smoke in public" etc? But that is in public not at home. In a few years they will tell me when to sleep, if left to themselves. Because a study finds out that sleeping late increases the health cost for the government by 99% (say!)! They already tell us where to urinate (public toilets) wait for a while they are "thinking" they will tell you when to urinate as well. Then we need to take an appointment to take approval from a clerk to find out when not to urinate. I know I am exaggerating but just show how ridiculous things can get easily by applying "public safety" policies. This is what governments do.

This is too much government. Too much!! When a government becomes too much it becomes a religion! Simple. Wait a second who said religion is simple?

12 September 2009

New Jersey - Convention and Our Yakshagana reported!

HAA Biannual Convention and Programmes are reported in Thatskannada. Comments are awesome

Yakshamitra Photo is here

N joy

Folks, life is all folk!

Hi folks,
I made an inflammatory post a while ago. People of all sexes and religion fumed at me reading it :) Now I write to correct myself a bit and go a few steps beyond so the fuming can burn and the sniggering can laugh.

Corrections are that Eka tala is a 4 or 8 beat rhythm depending on how fast it is played. Which is exactly same as in Karnataka Sangeetha. I had incorrectly mentioned it 6 beats. which actually ended up a discussion on Eka Tala I counted it wrong! I Also listened Karnataki Ektala and concluded there is no difference between Yakshagana and Karnataki Eka Taala. So that sarcasm I threw at the Karnataki now stands to embarrass me. Since it is not the first time and I have decided to show all my ignorance and shout as much so I do not repent for not saying something after my death (there are high chances of me becoming ghost; I have too many scores to settle)! I call it original ignorance (mistakes in realizations)! I also figured that Yakshagana Rupaka taala and Karnataki Tisra Rupaka are exactly same. In Yakshagana number of continuous strokes (Laghu) and gaps following a stroke (Guru) is decided based on the metre (Chandassu) of poem and  effective metre when singing. Which leads us to believe that Karnataki composers are or should be careful about metre of the composition while choosing a Tala with a particular Jaathi. The problem is the rhythm and the metre both become monotonous by sticking to a Jaathi. I.e Laghu in a Chatusra Jaathi Tala should have  4 laghu letters in corresponding lyric and Guru should have Guru in the lyric (ie a compound letter that takes 2 time units to pronounce or a laghu when sung takes 2 time units). If this pattern is repeated often it is bound to become monotonous. When and if this rule is broken, natural correspondence between rhythm and lyric is replaced by a concocted rhythm pattern to follow the melody. This, only a few trained in this business can understand, because natural correspondence between melody and rhythm is broken at least partly if not completely. This prevents public from following the rhythm. If you follow the correspondence then you are called a folk singer! So much for being normal!! 

Now the going beyond stuff:
Eka taala is basically a typical 4 beat international folk rhythm. You see them in rock, pop, classical, Karnataki, Hindi film songs etc. A lot of folk songs are in Eka Taala rhythm. Irrespective of how many beats it has, Eka Tala appears to have only one emphatic stroke so called Eka taala? May be who knows!

I sung Gallu gallenuta Kannada folk song in Yakshagana style to show that it is in Eka Tala. Listen to it here:

Gallu gallenuta folk song in Eka Taala - Yakshagana style (not quite: I was drunk when sung it LOL, Nah timbre my voice is not natural).
Chande is tuned well this time for a change but my voice is not!

All musics are folk in origin including Karnatic/Carnatic whatever you call it. Refinements aside fundamentals are very natural. In my view artificial arithmetical rhythm patterns should not be created. They will end up unatural and not so nice circus! So I started to see if I can add new rhythms patterns by looking at natural sounds. Dollu Kunita (Drum Dance) of Karnataka has a nice rhythm. It goes something like, Drijom Dallom ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and then DrijjukuDrijom DrijjukuDrijom DrijjukuDrijom Drijom. Unfortunately for me this is already a variation of Kore Taala (3.5 beats). In fact the Yakshagana Oddolaga starts with a typical this Dollu beat (Tai taita dina dhem taita dina dhen taita dina dhittha...so on)!

Ps: Above statement about Oddolaga are incorrect. Yakshagana Oddolaga is in Asta tala (Ata) of 8 beats.

All 7 rhythm can be shown to be from something (I think!). If you know the rest (5) let me know. So let us keep looking and add new rhythms.

I realised today that Karnataki/Hindustani "Naaninna Dasanaiah Seetharaama...", my mother 's favourite (havyaka traditional/folk) "Bandu kootihalu nodi, Mahalakshmi indu kantheredu nodi..." and Yakshagana Gadhayudha "Swami laalipudu maata are all in same Dhaati (so same raaga) and all in Asta Taala (Ata taala? Tabla Deepchandi). All music is folk so do not complain!.

Ps: Gadaaparva Yakshagana book states the Raaga is Regupti. But Hindusthani Durga.

09 September 2009

Being neutral: Being apolitical and not religious

Being neutral is always a joke! I will try to defend this view point in this post.

We often see claims such as spiritual but not religious, not political, non-aligned, neither against nor for! None of them is true. It could be that we have not spent enough time to think about them and therefore we have not decided. It mostly means, unfortunately, that we favour one of the sides and do not admit it being dishonest to the degree required for such claims.

If we are not political we should not care for ANY political ideal. We should not care who rules. How can someone be clueless about someone who rules them? How can someone claim that it does not matter to them if they pay all their money in tax or part of it? Similarly how can someone seriously say that they would not mind someone being coersed into a particular faith, culture etc? How can one tolerate being forced to follow a faith?

If we can not stand these then we are not neutral. If we do tolerate such behaviour we are slaves.

08 September 2009

Valmiki Ramayana

Ramayana I know are actually pieces stiched together from what my Grandfather taught me, what I read from Bala Ramayana books, Kannada ramayana poetry and some pieces of Sanskrit Valmiki Ramayana from Bala Khaanda (Vishwamitra blessing Rama Lakshmana dual with special arms).

I am thinking of read the whole thing now. You can find Devanagari script here.


I use this dictionary to understand better:


04 September 2009

Why Harmonium should be used in Yakshagana

All musical instruments have a 'type of sound' that make them sound different. This type of sound or quality of sound  is called Timbre. Human voice has a timbre too which is why two voices sound different. However, unlike instruments, it is possible to modulate human voice and change the timbre to a great extent. That is why we have mimicry: imitating others voices.

Yakshagana singing tries to change timbre of voice so that alaapa is close in timbre to Harmonium. Timbre of Pungi which was used earlier in Yakshagana is close to Harmonium if not the closest. Jogi pada still imitates Pungi drone to some extent! Both Harmonium and Pungi are reed instruments. Tanpura on the other hand is a stringed instrument with a completely different timbre. That is why some forms of music including Yakshagana that use reed instruments for drone sound different from those musical systems using Tanpura. It is also true that this is not the only reason why genres (zonra) of vocal musics sound different from others.

Musical harmony is created when frequency (pitch or note such as Sa {on a fixed scale}) and timbre of voice and drone (two notes) are closer (causing resonance - therefore beats). That is why we can not play one note on Tanpur(sa/pa) and other note on Harmonium (Sa) and use it as drone. Doing so creates a dissonance of timbre.

Classical singers mainly care about matching the frequency (pitch). However, more melodious singers also match the timbre of Tanpura. That is why they sound a bit artificial - precisely why Yakshagana sounds artificial as well where there is too much imitation of Harmonium timbre. You may note that Hindustani singers match the Tanpura timbre by widening their voice while Karnataka singers do it by using bit of nasal sound. 

I have been scratching my head on this since 3 years and have some insights. The summary of which is that resonance with reed instruments is the key to melodious and independent sound quality in Yakshagana singing. Therefore, I strongly believe we should use Harmonium as drone instrument in Yakshagana. We already use it but this is my understanding as to why we should continue to use it. The new drone instruments being designed are neither here nor there and are unfit to be used for singing. One of my friends called it a Transformer!!

03 September 2009

Yuck Kidds

Indian media glorifies urban ignorance. There is no excuse, not even a bit. All of the English media is made up of urban people who do not even know there are forests and villages (They know slums by the way!). 'Villager' is a synonym for 'stupid' in many cities. A villager's kid is a 'Yuck'(disgust) for urban kids.

Sheela Bhat the editor of Rediff writes, "...
when urban India retired to bed after watching and surfing some 30 news channels,...We, urban Indians, came face-to-face with the 'real' India which was somewhere in those dark black hills known in Telugu as Nalla (dark/black) Mallai (hills)."

I can only laugh at her. So called urban people are not even 20% of India and they think 80% of India is stupid and these unawareness is an aberration! Why glorify their ignorance? So much cynicism is not good not just for their health but the health of India. Kids in cities call poor kids yuck (disgusting). I grewup with kids who were even nude;came to school with only nickker (shorts); shirts when they had any were torn by default. I was fortunate to be not one of them. They were never yuck. Parents never correct them. Region languages are languages to be spoken by house maids. English is "their own" language! The same urban people become powerful voices in urbane English media and drown all sane voices. Their benevolence is
of utmost important neither development nor well being of masses. Governments are solely elected to answer the media. They should first explain report and surrender to media before they 'work'.

These utterly unqualified gooofs rant their opinion and call it news while clearly they are out of touch with reality. Left untended we will see the likes of Burkha Dutta types and Karan Thapar types judging everything from nuclear physicists to below poverty line farmer as if they have all the wisdom and qualification. And what is it?:ignorance. There used to be column 'Opinion' in all the news reporting papers. Now we have opinion papers and I am still searching for 'Report' column!

In a conversation, an argument broke out that a plant can grow so many mtrs tall. An "expert" in the field related to plants who had never seen that plant in his life did some research and told me that it can not grow more than so many feet. I had to disagree for I had lived with them;played with them;slept on them;grew them and knew their medicinal properties. During the argument, where the Internet was clearly on "expert's" side and when I was already lacking a degree in Botany to claim any qualification, I said somewhere in the argument 'in my village and around' I can show you a bunch taller than you. Suddenly he said, "oh! you are from a village!" and my qualification suddenly went down by several university degrees in quantum physics.

We must stop this half educated pool of people that feels fit to judge anything and everyone. We must stop it before the insane and unrealistic voices take over and before moderate, realistic and genuine voices die.