Category Archives: Music

Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

Out of the blue, while vocalizing natural note-phrases for a long time, you are asked to sing the Re-Komal that is Re-Flat. Now that’s the puzzling, tension-some era. More than 90% of my beginner students, or even amateurs get the jimjams and go wrong, out of tune, when asked to switch from natural notes to Komal. And why not? this is one of the most reasonable and possibly appropriate timings to get puzzled especially when you have started randomly without pondering over it for a few seconds.

 Normally, flat or komal denotes dull, faded version of the notes. Sharp or teevr denotes dominating or acute, ready to invade. Komal is the Hindi word for ‘soft’ and teevr refers to ‘tez‘ or clever. Thus, the first step is to perceive and grasp these terms clearly by imaging them as the meaning indicates.
Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

Technique To Remember and Vocalize Komal and Teevr Swaras

 The proper sequence of the 12 notes in a chromatic scale or in the realm of 22 shrutis are:
 S  re  R  ga  G  M  ma’  P   dha   DH    ni   NI  SA
  •  upper case denotes shuddha/natural ones
  • lower case+italics+Underlined = komal (re ga dh ni)
  • lower+italics+apostrophe = teevr (which is only ma)
 The good news is that we never struggle to sing the seven natural notes (S R G M P D N) or major scale (C D E F G A B) because that’s the base scale, which is subtly printed in our brain. If you have even a speck of interest in music, you know the seven notes sequence be it what so ever culture or country you belong. Indian system calls it ‘saat shuddha swara‘ or ‘saptak‘ while the western discipline calls it major scale. Major means happy, so these are the happy tunes. 
 Visualize the Location Of Notes
Remember the sequence by hard as it helps visualize the location of note, hence you will grab the tonic ‘Sa’ and grab the subsequent note. Initially its hard to grasp the note, but far much easy to remember the location or diagram you had drawn. For instance, you are asked to track ‘ga’ komal. Visualize, imagine the location of ga komal: between shuddha re and shuddha ga, or at least think that, “I’ve to dim down the natural Ga.” You are all set. 
 Sing the Shuddha Version First
Once you have analyzed the concept of direction in your head, reach the natural destination of a particular note and back it up to dull it. Do not haste to ruin the things. Simply establish the base/tonic note Sa (on whatever scale) and reach out with S R G with G natural and return or back slightly by making the normal Ga to dull/dim. In other words fade the happy Ga to its dull form. This is not only the rational way to vocalize the vikrita swaras (komal/teevr) but also makes you a proficient 12-note singer. It’s actually hard to master singing the 12-notes together at one go.
 Ragas Help a Lot
Another very catchy option to reach out complex notes is: recall the basic ragas you have learnt and experiment the notes taking its help. Let me illustrate. Suppose you are asked to sing Raga Shivaranjini, a pentatonic raga omitting Ma and ni, which you are learning as of now, but don’t exactly memorize the tune at the moment.  In such case, we are all familiar with Raga Bhupali whether as a beginner, intermediate or advanced. Bhupali tunes are well inculcated in our brains so it might surely guide the way through. Fortunately, Bhupali is also a pentatonic scale raga which omits Ma and ni. But what’s the difference: Shivarinjini comprises of Ga komal instead the shuddha one like in Bhupali. Memorize and sing the Bhupali tune structure and dull the Ga in Bhupali, which lands fairly on Shivaranjini. In fact, this is how our 20th century musicians and gharanedaar veterans have experimented the different notes and created the new ragas. 
 Take Help Of The Movie Songs
Last but not the least, the most interesting and engaging way to address the different complex  notes are memorize the movie songs. Lets take Raga Shivaranjini as there are ample of songs in this raga, so if you are unable to bring the Aaroh-avroh in your head, simply hum the popular song “Jaane Kahan Gaye Woh din” from an old movie ‘mera naam joker‘. The first line is exactly the aaroh-avroh of the Raga Shivarajini. Get ready sing all the notes as now you have mastered it.  Similarly, if you unable to grab the lower ni to start raga Yaman’s ni Re Ga, simply remember the song ‘Ye Moh Moh Ke Dhaage‘ as the starting notes of this song is ni-Re-Ga…
 Analyzing the Indian classical  swaras and then pondering upon how they’re selected and combined to make a raga or melody is the most enthralling moments in the journey of learning classical music. Our honorable music legends have created these numerous incredibly scintillating ragas and indeed provided us a plethora of inestimable stuff to brood over and get startled. The only thing we need to do is to contemplate on those stuffs and value the moments, instead of puzzling ourselves with notes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Acknowledging “Rabindra Sangeet” on the Tagore’s 155th Birthday

 

Musicquote

Musicquote

It’s worth cherishing to ponder what an amazing Indian culture, people and heritage we have achieved as born in India. For example, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. I pay him a grand tribute on his 155th birthday and salute his various contributions towards music, dance, literature, drama and so on.

Rabindra Sangeet is one of his precious gift. Distinctive songs authored by Tagore in Bengali language is Rabindra Sangeet. It is absolute a unique genre of semi-classical music which involves a significant amount meend, murki etc. Rabindra Sangeet is usually a blend of classical variations and folk music. Hence it’s very popular in the nation especially in the areas near Bengal, Bangladesh, Assam etc. Some of the songs are like: Sei Bhalo sei bhalo, Aaji Godhuli lagone ei, Swapne Amar mone holo, Aaj Sobar ronge rong etc..

Rabindra Sangeet primarily depicts the shringar rasa or rati bhava in its composition. Sringara rasa incorporates the expression of romanticism and beloved’s affair. In some of the songs, moppet’s playfulness and mischief is also demonstrated. Apart from these the base themes of Rabindra Sangeet are worship, (bhakti Rasa), and the description of six seasons etc.

He composed songs in Yaman raga, Poorvi, Kedar, Todi, Asavari, Desi, Hameer and in various mishra-ragas. He somehow disliked the stylization of Khayal gayaki as the lyrics are pretty much dissected in that genre.

Sitar, Esraj, jag jhampa, nakkara instruments are much common in Bengal and are said to be accompanied in the rabindra Sangeet. According to the great musicologists Shri K.D Banerjee and Sir Surendra Nath Tagore, Bengal is said to be the land of instruments and Rabindra sangeet is bestowed with most of them while the recitals.

Many of the bollywood songs has been influenced by rabindra sangeet. For instance, the movie Parineeta songs especially phool phool bhawra dole man me gooje teri yaad. The soothing, gentle, natural notes-oriented intonations fulfills the aura of romanticism and defines rabindra sangeet. In the same movie, a popular track rabindra-influenced pihu bole piya bole also reverberates the soul  and represents a unique era of music.

Photo Credit: By Unknown – State Archive, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47866012

Why Raga Therapy is more effective than other music

Like many valuable stuffs, our Indian heritage comprises of a treasurous element called ‘Shastriya’ or Ragadari sangeet. Our ragas, primarily ancient ragas, had been derived  considering a rational aspect relating to mind and health issues.

There are 72 melakarta ragas (parent) from which other numerous ragas have been created.  An ancient text, Swara Shastra states that 72 melakarta ragas (parent ragas) control the 72,000 important nadis or nerves in the body. “Neural research proves that the 72 ragas can control 72 nerves in the human body. Singing or performing a Raga, when bound to its specifications (lakshanas) and with purity in pitch (swara shuddhi) gives the performer complete control on the corresponding nerve.”

Indian ragas are modal or tonic : Indian musical system stands at one tonic note which is called swarit throughout a particular raga performance. All the subsequent notes gravitize on the swarit. This longevity at one chord for hours instills stability and peaceful mind hence more active brain. Also, this shadaj gravity imbibes groundedness and humility.

Exhibits specific note structure and nature: Ragas are the specific set of notes formed by the combinations and permutations of twelve notes in 22 shrutis. Listening to specific set of notes framework for a longer period plays a vital role in healing.

“The sonic patterns of musical currents are recorded with the help of oscilloscopes and the pitch, amplitude and wavelengths of the constituent sound waves are analysed in the laboratories of Brahm Varchas, which helps in studying the effect of music in stress management.”

Ragas That Heal

Sonic effects of the different combinations of swaras are the key factors in music therapy. Therapists and researchers are still analyzing the logic behind which ragas can really become instant healer for a particular disease. However, common day to day problem has indeed found solution in raga healing.   

Ragas do heal when rendered properly with correct pitch, balanced use of vadi-samvadi, addressing the proper feel and emotions. To name a few, Bihag and Bahar are used for sonorous sleep, Hindolam raga improves digestive power, Shivaranjani treats memory power. According to Mittal (2003) and Dr. Sairam (2006), Ahir Bhairava cures arthritis and hypertension, Darbari Kanhada cures headache; Yaman and Bhoopali increases concentration.

“Dr. Herbert Spencer experimented with the people suffering from high and low  blood pressure and found that fast melodies having sharp notes are effective in normalizing the blood pressure while slow melodies having soft or komal swaras are helpful in lowering the BP.” Thus, Ragas like Asawari and Malkauns works as a heeler for BP patients.”

I would conclude my paper by a logical statement by Sairam Sir,

“It has now been recognized that ragas are not just mere commodities of entertainment; the vibrations in their resonance can synchronize with one’s moods and health. By stimulating the moods and controlling the brainwave patterns, ragas could work as a complementary medicine.”

How British singer Tanya Sings ‘Gulon Mein Rang Bhare’

If you desire something wholeheartedly without any ifs and buts, it can snap you high till the skies. Passion and determination makes one advance to any unlimited extent. Tanya wells is a true upcoming example.

Doing it once again she presents a famous Ghazal ‘Gulon Mein Rang Bhare’, written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and sung by Mehdi Hassan. Watch out the news here.

Tanya lived in India for over three years, attending school in the foothills of the Himalayas. She later returned to study Indian classical music (including light classical, Thumri, Bhajan and ghazal) and has performed original material in a number of clubs and festivals on the Indian sub continent. Tanya continues to draw upon personal experience, writing and performing songs that express a range of diverse cultural influences.

Tanya has recently been involved in a number of live performances, including a guest appearance with Natacha Atlas at Ronnie Scott’s, performing vocals for Anoushka Shankar at the Cannes Film Festival, and opening for Joss Stone, Nitin Sawhney & Nicki Wells (her twin) at Mama Stones.

Tanya’s competence and skilled renditions of other Ghazals such as Ae Ishq Humein’, Duniya Kisi ke Pyar mein’, ‘Rafta Rafta’ of Mehdi Hassan proves her dedication and respect towards Indian music. By her efforts and way of maneuvering the difficult ghazals, it’s truly said that Music actually has no boundaries.

Apart from the Ghazals, she also trialed some Bollywood songs and Thumris like ‘Na Jaane Saiyaan’ and Maar Dala.

If we, as Indians, are singing British and american songs in totally copied accent, it’s not a real rocket science because English is a general language in India, in fact a primary language. For that matter, accent can also be imitated by listening and vocalizing it several times, because eventually we can understand English. But in the countries like UK, US, they don’t have Hindi-speaking process and they do not know the normal meaning of the Hindi words except ‘Namaste’. Thus, this has been a commendable work on Tanya’s side and we should promote. Hat’s off!

TEDx Features Deforia Lane – A Must See

Overwhelming are the tiny tales narrated by a renowned music therapist Dr. Deforia Lane, which are related to the infants heeling during a delivery. Immensely satisfying feelings emerges to observe that sound vibration heeling is creating its place in the world where human’s genuinely positive vibrations are missing. In the coming era, where the fetuses are arriving carrying disturbances along, where relations are soon turning into repulsion, where the old parents are deprived of their children’s real smile,  these music therapies produced by the divine sound frequencies and resonance will be the only source of treatment and bliss. Good news is that people are working hard to bring it forth.  Watch out this interesting talk on music therapy by Dr. Deforia Lane:

Positive Yoga blend With Music

Finally India has touched the edge of genuinely healthy living by bringing Yoga into their lifestyles, thus to the Indian culture. Even the busy bees try to join the yoga classes or retreats. The first big round of applause goes to Baba Ramdev, the Yoga Rishi. And second one goes the westerners to adopt and bring it in trend. Today, whatever culture, rituals, apps, websites, startups are trending in the US, by default, it has to enter the Indian community and people, whether or not, it’s of any use to India or not.

Forget the reasons, Yoga is the best, in fact the only way to get rid of the diseases by uplifting the immunity. Especially, when you cannot rely on the freshness and purity of the fruits and veggies, on which you have to live on, the only way is persist on being internally strong so that adulterated foods cannot decay your body functions.

Thoughts while doing Pranayama and asanas:

Have you ever witnessed the quality of thoughts created while doing yoga in the morning? Generally, the mind is engrossed in the past day thoughts: what happened the last night, the people you met, and so on. But the prime thoughts are mundane: I have to cook, get the kids ready. All kinds of thoughts team up the mind except of doing yoga. Doing yoga without focusing on it is as good as not doing it. The better idea is to keep breathing deeply while the workouts and focusing only on the breaths. Undeniably, it’s hard to stick to breath noticing but it’s highly beneficial in imbibing positive vibes throughout the body cells.

Subconscious mind is the sailor of a ship. It makes everything small thing happen in your life you are craving for. The rule is that you have to trash the negative or the doubtful, unconfident themes. Subconscious mind utilizes whatever you feed it.

Once you are habitual of returning on the breaths every while from the monkey mind, you can combine the breathing with a positive thought or whatever you want or your dreams are. For instance, you want to grab a particular job with a specific designation. Keep feeding yourself: “That job is mine, I will definitely have it; my subconscious power is much strong to make it for me” Or “My dreams will surely come true.” Deep breaths works as a channel for transferring the messages to the tingling nerves, body cells and neurons. Delivering such messages to the innermost mind will not only make the happenings as per your wishes but also transcend your thought level by replacing it with the negative ones.

Yoga with Music Blend

Have you ever tried doing yoga along with the music player on? Let’s delve into the positive aspects of yoga deeply by combining it with a good music?

The sonic currents of musical tunes reverberates and drops at the entangled nerve-cells, dendrites, neurons and gradually unleash them giving the pacifying effect to the brain enhancing the body mechanism.

Music here refers to a little slow paced and soft rhythmic music which instantly can hook your mind while meditating or even doing the lie-down asanas.

Beginning of a raga: Listening to any morning raga while yogic asanas in a slow pace, especially the starting aalap-renditions and sustained articulations are going on, grounds our mind towards stability and void thoughts. While doing pranayama especially kapalbhati and anulom-vilom, focus on the body part you have issues. Then blend the focus with tunes and breath. After a few minutes or more, you have notice that only three aspects you are left with: breath, tune, and visual pictures of specific body part getting healed. The daily practice is the optimistic way of sending the commands to the subconscious exactly what you want to develop. And the consequences you observe is miraculous.

In order to meditate on the variety tracks, you can soft rhythmic violin, some meaningful lyricized bhajans & mantras, Shubha Mudgal Surya Upasana, and so on.

Watch out these stories to get some awareness about the trending Yoga culture around the globe like as in Yoga College in China.

Few Ways to Incline Kids towards Indian Classical Music

The kids of my music premises are the proper west freak. I often interview them why they like western music more than the Indian. One of them shared a piece of experience with me on this, “West songs are a good source to enjoy and share the company of other kids.” Which was a clear and logical answer. The other one quoted, “Indian songs are boring and unknown…and we don’t know Hindi properly.”

We, as kids, were die-heart fans of the then Bollywood songs. We grasped even the minute variations and could easily perform if asked in the public.  Today’s kids are not even aware of the songs like manma emotion, jabra Fan, or even the cheapest songs.

Do what you want your kids to do:

Play any classical track for at least half an hour in the central room music system at home, so the kids grasp the tunes.

A 4 years old girl showed up with her mom when I asked her to sing something. Predictably, she sang a western track and the most intense romantic song Kyu ki tum hi ho. I shared my opinions with her mom on how the kids started liking the romantic tracks. She genuinely replied, “ It’s not their fault. We continuously listen to such songs and then they follow.”  Similarly, parents want their kids to learn Indian music but never give the Indian music environment at home. In fact, studies show that around 75% IT working Indian parents listen to the western singers more but make their kids join Indian classical classes, which compel the kids to make dry faces while the classes. The simplest formula of indoctrinating something in kids is the parents should start executing the same.

‘Classical music’ should be introduced in the schools

In the name of Indian music period, children learn some slow Hindi songs like Humko man ki shakti, Teri hai zameen, etc.,  which can never make them inclined. A proper classical training curriculum should be included in all school as a  serious exam subject right from the age of kindergarten and further, for which the marks matter. This way kids indoctrinate basic elements and grasp the classical tunes and rhythms. Once they grasp and perform and get appreciation, they will automatically hook up to the field.

Classical training made funny, fast and furious:

There are many options for making classical training more  whimsical and engrossing for kids. Classical doesn’t mean singing only serious ragas and tunes. Classical training can be made more funny, interesting more for kids by creating the swara, alankar Palte (note-syllables) more fast and rhythmic. For instance, breath and voice training can be initiated by commanding, “Let’s see if you can hold up till 20 seconds in rendering OM.” The competition imbibe a lot more interest in kids which make them plead for “Mam, I need one more chance.”

Guitarplaying matters

I observe my kid students crazy about the songs like New divide, I walk alone, 21 guns and even more crazier in playing them on the keyboard and guitar. They google the chords and keys curiously and are fulfilled with questions when show up at the class. The psychology and  common pattern in all kids are: if they are able to play any fast rendition (be it classical swaras) or quick songs on any western instrument, preferably guitar and Keyboard, they are likely to get attracted by music forever. For that matter, one can try out teaching the Indian ragas and fast swara-compositions on the guitar. For instance, apart from teaching Raga Bhupali’s ‘SA SA D P G R ….’ Notation bandish, I am up with a Barfi song ‘Itti si hasi’ and I notice their preoccupation and grasp.

Make them dance on the bandish (Raga-songs)

Kids are enthusiastic and playful by some physical activities and melodramatic atmosphere. Vocal music teaching involves sitting which can make them lethargic and heedless. Making them dance or act as krishna-Gopi (as most bandish involve the story of lord Krishna) on the bandish(s) may enhance their vitality and endeavor towards music. They can easily retain the lyrics and tunes of the bandish with these tantrums.

Comparison between the Ragas Bhupali and Shuddha Kalyana

Let’s talk about a few ragas covering  the circumference of the Kalyana Family. Like the members of a family, the ragas share the basic traits but still possess their own individualistic nature, attribute and temperament.

Raga Bhupali and Shuddha Kalyana, both belong to the Kalyana Thata or Kalyana parent raga. Both the ragas are similar in some aspects but differ in a few more characteristic features which make them unique from each other.

Similarities:

  • Raga Bhupali and Shuddha Kalyana share the same thaat.
  • The ascend or Aaroh of both the ragas are pentatonic or Audav, Ma and Ni are omitted.
  • The Vadi (Most important note) and Samvadi (Second important swara) of both are Ga and Dha.
  • The time zone of both is second zone of night.
  • The sustained or Hold note i.e., Nyasa swara in both the ragas are Gandhar (GA)
  • The common note-sturcture in both the ragas are: G P Dh P, Dh SA, Dh P, SRG, RG, G P SAA…

Difference:

Raga Bhupali Shuddha Kalyaan
Jati – Audav-audav (fully pentatonic) Audav sampoorna (Avroh has all the notes present)
‘P-G’ Pairing is present but in a normal manner without stylization ‘P-G’ goes with a meend or glide
P-R swara pair is not important. Its taken rarely P-R swara-sangati is too much and vocalized with glides and murki as in: (P) R S
Bhupali is not meend-pradhan or glide-oriented This raga is active in having meends or the glide ornamentation
Dhaivata (Dh) is used far more compared to shuddha kalyana Dhaivata is used lesser
Lower or mandra notes go like this: S d p, d S, d S R S, p d S. Lower/mandra notes go: S n d p, S, p d S…

Indian Classical Version of Adelle’s ‘Hello’

Gone are the days when people listened to the good music, appreciated, made it trending and finally the track went adrift in the wind with time. Apart from perceiving, people brood over the track to provide it a unique flavor. Creativity and trying something instinctive is trending implicitly nowadays. Especially, Indian music, when fused with other west genre, has a power of transcending the standards in music. So the formula is quite precise: garnish the track with Indian musical spices and taste the peculiarity.

Think of Adelle’s record breaking super hit track ‘Hello’, which has been synced with an Indian classical version by a few artistes and fusionists and made even that extremely popular. Indian artiste, Mahesh Raghvan decided to give the tremendous desi twist to the song performed by the singer Demi Lovato. The fusion renditions have been initiated by university Marching band along with a two year old toddler who lip-synced to give a pop effect to the song. Adelle’s magic has been taken to a higher level by these artistes.

The blend-effect and the renditions are created through an iPad app which helped with a distinctive sound of flute, Tanpura and Nadaswaram. The serene and matured effect given by these traditional instruments left the track superbly fascinating and heart-stirring.

The creativity has yet not got over. The track has also been accompanied by Mohiniyattam, a classical dance from Kerala. I am immensely proud and excited to share that the dance was performed by an internationally acclaimed, beautiful and a proficient Mohiniyattam dancer and a professor in my department, Dr. Deepthy Omcherry Bhalla. I am so honored to recall my moments with her especially when I had interviewed her regarding my Ph.D thesis.

How a Therapist creates Music using Heart-beats

Music therapist and a guitarist Brian Schreck creates emotional music involving the heart beats of terminally ill children especially for soothing the grieving parents who lost their kids.

Schreck, who works at Starshine Hospice and Pallative Care, believes in the power of heartbeats creates genuine music using the heartbeats as the rhythms.

“Internal rhythm is so personal and I thought it could be used as a way to really help families feel connected to ones they’ve lost,” Schreck says. “By having the parents engage in the creative process of making the songs, it brings them together, preparing them for the grief and the pain they may soon encounter.”

Brian Schreck, 35 and the father of two, records the heartbeats of the terminally ill patients with the help of stethoscope and microphone, uploads in the computer and works with the parents for providing original scores. He collaborates with the parents acknowledging the child’s favorite songs and synced with the child’s heartbeats as rhythms.

When the child dies, he provides the completed track to the parents/family.

This is indeed a wisdom to pacify parent’s heart after their kid’s death and Schreck is upgrading his karmic account by keeping the child in the songs.

“This intervention is a coping mechanism and a way for parents to remember their kids when they’re gone,” says Schreck, who has created over 100 tracks inculcating heartbeats rhythms in the past two years.

Watch out the story here.