There are some things which make life seem like a bed of roses, like literally. They make everything else- that pack of medicines lying unused, petty domestic fights, and even issues of national importance- seem so diminished in comparison. Such things have a transcendental nature, and today I am talking about music, in particular. Art in any form is to be appreciated for the beauty that it holds because, as Keats rightly said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. Some say music is the best form of escape, but I believe that it is healing in nature. And there’s nothing wrong when an escape transforms into a remedy. I look at victims of road rage, depression, diseases that I know not about and cannot even spell the names of and I look at those musicians and singers, with an almost surreal placidity on their faces. We’re humans, and we constantly shift from the former end to the latter, which is when we realise the importance of the latter. Talking about Hindustani Classical music, there are ragas that can heal minor ailments if practised the suitable way. One of them is Bhairav, the early morning raga. There is something so divine about the simplest as well as the most complex renditions. And there’s something so humble about these revered legends who are taciturn, but they say the wittiest and the most innocent things. Pandit Gajananbuwa Joshi made a witty confession during one of his performances, “maine gaane aur bajaane ka abhyaas kiya hai, magar bolne ka abhyaas nahi kiya hai”, mentioning his inexperience in ‘public speaking’ on being told to introduce and comment upon the raga he was supposed to perform. I was simply amazed to know that he mastered the gayaki of three gharanas-Gwalior, Jaipur, and Agra- in one lifetime!
The realm of Fine Arts is like a never-ending library. You never stop learning, because it is a domain fuelled by creativity, and I repeat, is transcendental. It is as serene as that photograph which makes you swoon and take a deep breath at the same time. It could be the shehnai running as background music during wedding receptions, or that flute you listened to while you were crossing the road, or even a song that you listened to when you were a toddler, and was revived by your memory when you turned 14, but there’s something powerful about the silence in which the most beautiful sounds resonate in rhythmic fashion. There’s a subtlety attached to this kind of power, because it is expressed through sound emanating from the heart. It affects your senses, simply by making its way through your heart into your soul. The serenity that is experienced is so sublime that we start to wonder whether sleeping pills or tranquilisers are even required. This is not to generalize, but while growing up under the auspices of music teachers who taught us, I realised that there was one thing common to all of them : Happiness. Smiles galore. They would all take music seriously, but apart from that, everything else seemed rather mundane and tractable to them. You could get scolded for not practising the lessons hard, but you could never get scolded for laughing your head off. It was this distinct quality about the whole thing that always carried my feet to my beloved place. The music room of the school seemed like a heavenly abode after all those soporific lectures, because the best jokes were cracked there, the loudest laughters heard, and solutions found to the the most complex problems. It was childish of course on my part, but I also realised that I would secretly end up developing an inexplicable aversion to people who displayed a disinterest in music. 😛
Art in its myriad forms attracts many of us like bees to honey. It manifests its followers in the form of fans hooked to reality shows based on talents ranging from dance to music to cooking to painting to anything totally out-of-the box. We, as Indians, should be extremely proud to be the beneficiaries of a vast pool of knowledge, which will never stop expanding. But we also need to stay rooted to our rich culture to be able to give back something to the pool. There’s an enlightened section in our country which understands the depth provided by music, and art in general, to everyday situations. Of the uncountable manifestations of that insight, one comes to my mind right now. The tagline of the musical movie Khamoshi was “when music shatters the barriers of silence”. Is it not amusing that ‘Listen’ and ‘Silent’ are spelt using the same letters? How amazing it is that a mere sound has a latent ability to metamorphose into tunes popular with the masses. For all the love of personification that I have, I can’t even say that music personifies anything; because it amplifies things we escape most from: our feelings. It brings us closer to ourselves. It is for us to interpret its undercurrents the way we want to, because it gives free reign to our imagination. A priceless freedom..