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Goals for 2006 [Jan. 1st, 2006|12:00 am]
Arvind Narayanan
Some of these are too lofty, but what the hell :)

* Bench press 300 pounds, leg press 700.
* Run a half marathon (right now I can't run very much because of lower back pain)
* Publish 4 good papers
* Get a rating of 2400 at the Internet Chess Club
* Learn to recognize any of the 100 most popular Carnatic ragams in under 5 seconds
* Learn to speak French and Spanish

[User Picture]From: haran
2005-12-31 06:35 pm (UTC)
Learn to recognize any of the 100 most popular Carnatic ragams in under 5 seconds
Please tell me how you plan to\hope to do this.
I've got a terrible ear for music and really want to be able to do this
Do you have any routine for developing this skill (other than 'listen to lots of music')?
Learn to speak French and Spanish
Yo hablo espanol!
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2005-12-31 09:54 pm (UTC)
Actually I'm already most of the way there: currently I know about 70 ragams, and most of the time I can tell in less than 5 seconds - and often in less than a second. To prove that this is not an exaggeration, once I started a music file, hit pause after exactly 3 notes were played, and announced the ragam.

So here's what I did so far:

1. Never listen to a song without knowing its ragam (unless you're trying to guess it). The reason, very crudely put, is: say you know the ragam is mohanam, then your brain will file all the patterns in the song under "mohanam". If you find out the ragam after you listen to the song, then it is too late.

2. As a beginner, actively look out for commonalities in different songs in the same ragam, since you don't yet know what constitutes a ragam. You might initially get confused and think of the beats or some other characteristic as being related to the ragam. Whereas if you listen to different songs, you will start to filter out the irrelevant elements and start to understand what a ragam is. After a while you won't need to do this and will only need to listen to a minute or two of a new ragam to get a good idea of it.

3. Listen to manodharma - alapana, neraval and kalpanaswaram. That's where the ragam really stands out. As you progress everything else will sound mundane and boring in comparison!

4. Look out for gamakams - they have the most "entropy".

Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-01-01 03:45 am (UTC)
Forgot to mention:

5. Listen to real Carnatic music, not jokers like Jesudas or Nithyashree.

6. You can significantly speed up the process in 1) above by subvocally repeating the name of the ragam once every minute or so while listening to the song.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-01 09:44 am (UTC)
Happy New Year
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-02 02:08 pm (UTC)
Arvind, I am Sandeep. I would disagree with AlApana, niraval and svaram being the places where rAgam stands out; I think these stand out the most in good kRtis, particularly dIkShitar and shyAma-shAstri kRtis. These kRtis serve as the best references for the rAgams as well. But the problem is that to appreciate a kRti really well one has to hear it rendered slowly several times and digest every minor twist and turn that occurs. AlApanas, and svarams are much easier to follow, particularly since the former have many short phrases and pauses between them facilitating ease of absorption, and the latter explicitly tell you what the notes are! neravals are slightly harder but not as hard as the kRtis to follow since the amount of musical information in a neraval line is much smaller than that in an actual kRti. Also I would suggest the AlApanas and svarams of old masters more, as you will see more short phrases there. These days many singers, probably because they don't know as many inequivalent san~cArams, seem to go to long ( but disgustingly linear ) phrases too soon; and singing some random sequence of notes during svarams which are by no means particularly enlightening.

Another suggestion I would have for haran is to listen to lots of instrumentals. The not-so-pleasant voices of many very great singers like Semmangudi, Madurai Mani Iyer might distract and turn away people who aren't used to the set of patterns used in carnatic music ( and hence already find it difficult to recognize patterns ). Another thing you can do if you are a south Indian is to go to nAda anubhUti (http://home.sprynet.com/~dsivakumar/music/intromus.htm) or some such site and listen to film songs in rAgas you wish to be familiar with. Alternatively ask your friends who might know which rAgams some of the film songs correspond to. Best of luck with your targets and happy new year ( I doubt if I can identify half as many rAgams that fast ).
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-01-03 06:25 am (UTC)
These days many singers, probably because they don't know as many inequivalent san~cArams, seem to go to long ( but disgustingly linear ) phrases too soon; and singing some random sequence of notes during svarams which are by no means particularly enlightening.

Maybe you're right, and anyway you know better than I do, but you needn't have said "these days". I'm sure there were an equal number of bad singers before our time, you just don't know about them because they weren't so famous.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-01-03 06:40 pm (UTC)
Probably, but I think there were many more good singers during say 1940-1980, hence the music scene as a whole should be better, which means fewer bad singers. And I think the reason for that is that people those days could keep practising all day without bothering about financial support while today people have to go to school, hunt for a career etc. I don't think I know these things better than you do, but my personal feeling is that currently carnatic music is getting revamped from the horrible scenario of, say, early 1990s. I hope internet etc. will improve things considerably but a lot of stuff may get extinct.
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[User Picture]From: vinodv
2006-01-22 08:22 pm (UTC)
Do you know which half-marathon you are planning to run, yet ? I might do the NYC one sometime in summer hopefully, if I can train enough by then.

300 lbs benchpress does seem a bit ambitious. Or, maybe not, who knows :)

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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-01-24 05:01 am (UTC)
I haven't looked up any half marathons yet - there's no point in doing that because I don't know if my back will ever get in shape. I'm just hoping it will be cured sometime soon, there isn't much I can actually do about it.

When I said I had some lofty goals, I didn't mean the strength training ones - I mostly referred to writing 4 papers. In fact, the weight goals are rather ... conservative, especially the leg press one. I think I might reach that in 3-4 months of training (right now I'm sitting at home due to the flu :( ). Currently I'm at 450 (10 reps).

I was doing 160 on the chest press machine long back, but when I started doing the free weight bench press I ran into the standard problem of inadequate development of stabilizer muscles (machines develop only the synergists). I'm slowly back up to 120-130 (10 reps) now, and I hope to improve faster from now on. Let me assure you that when all the variables are right I can go up really fast! I wouldn't be surprised if I made the 300 lb goal in 6-8 months.

The main danger is not being able to keep the schedule, losing muscle during sickness, etc.
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