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Music - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Music [Oct. 6th, 2006|02:49 pm]
Arvind Narayanan
[Current Mood |hungryhungry]

Various music-related tidbits.

Qawwali is quickly becoming my second favorite music genre. This means that my top two favorite music genres are both religious music. This is not funny anymore :(

As a gadget nut, I usually keep up with the new-releases news. I've been out of the loop for all of two months, and I'm floored by how much has changed since then. Flash technology has been the most impressive. 8GB flash mp3 players! Laptops with no hard drives, just tons of flash! Next-gen super-efficient batteries! (Right on time too, considering that all the current ones are exploding :-) Of course, OLPC is still vaporware. No need to worry about that.

Now that FairUse4WM exists, I'm paying for music again. [Insert standard gripe about retarded music industry making paying customers jump through hoops.]

From: (Anonymous)
2006-10-08 01:17 pm (UTC)
A most probably tangential remark : The little I have heard of Qawwali lyrics, they seem to have some literary merit ( totally unlike Carnatic Music ).
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-10-08 10:37 pm (UTC)
Actually I've been thinking about the lyrics issue a little bit today -- consider this couplet from mADumEikkum kaNNE (the speaker is krshNa, to yashOda):

kATTu mrghangaLellAm ennaikkaNDAl Odi varum
kUTTam kUTTamAga vandAl vETTayADi jEittiDuvEn

Note the absurd contradiction between the two lines -- the fantasy of young krshNa as fundamentally innocent and benign superimposed on the reality that yAdava kula krshNa, to the extent that he was a historical character, probably hunted for sport.

The writers of the brindAvana canon go to some lengths to present a coherent story -- IIRC, the jAlas of baby krshna are considered accidental from his point of view; he just goes about demolising all manner demons in the course of his daily playful activities, unaware of his own power in some sense.

Adult krshna, of course, addresses the issue explicitly, coming up with some kind of moral or logical explanation for why it is ok to be a good guy and still kill everyone within a ten mile radius, as long as they initiated the hostilities (and takes up most of the bhagavatgIta to say it, as I understand it.)

Anyway my point is that I don't like Carnatic lyrics *at all*, because I don't agree with the sentiments or the history or something. Someday I will probably be able to understand Qawwali lyrics, but I think most of it is about either bhakti or sharAb, and so I don't anticipate having too many problems with it :)
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From: kupamanduka
2006-10-09 01:10 pm (UTC)
The first comment was from me, must have forgotten to sign in.

I thought sharAb was more ghazal-ish, but of course I haven't seen too many Qawwali lyrics. One certainly finds romantic love, but people map it/try to map it to a soul pining for God. Of course, people give such interpretations to Persian poems from older times, the stories of Laila-Majnu etc. The poems of the mystic Hafiz such as this lovely piece ) are set in the language of romantic love. IIRC, these kinds of things were the inspirations for Qawwali; somehow I find this kind of expression more straight-forward and touching, may be due to my disposition :-))

...as long as they initiated the hostilities

Disagree, but I am not sure you might want to get into a discussion regarding that. Be that as it may, I think you would hardly find objectionable lyrics in the works of tyAgarAja or dIkShitar or shyAmashAstri ( mostly ) - these guys actually seem very benign and compassionate characters. But I don't find their lyrics appealing - their lyrics seem to be insipid repetitions of the same old stuff.

The song you quoted, googling says, was a kAvaDi-cintu ( does that mean the author is unknown? ) - hence not typical of the usual bunch of carnatic songs.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-10-09 02:05 pm (UTC)
"I thought sharAb was more ghazal-ish"

Probably true, although I have heard one or two Qawwali pieces talking about it.

"Disagree, but I am not sure you might want to get into a discussion regarding that."

Yeah, that's a good idea. Anyway, I was probably wrong, and not sure of myself in the first place, which is why I peppered it with "as I understand it" etc. If you have a link that talks about the Gita and is not written from the hindu point of view (which I realize is unlikely) then please send it my way.

"Be that as it may, I think you would hardly find objectionable lyrics in the works of tyAgarAja or dIkShitar or shyAmashAstri ( mostly ) - these guys actually seem very benign and compassionate characters."

Daie, my objection to the lyrics I quoted was that it was historically crap. It's the benign part that I objected to. The composers being compassionate doesn't help in anyway.

"The song you quoted, googling says, was a kAvaDi-cintu"

I see. Very surprising. I would have expected a kAvaDi cindu to be about muruga or shiva or not about a god at all.

BTW, is your username pronounced kupamaNDUka or kupamANDUka? I think it's the first, but not completely sure.
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From: kupamanduka
2006-10-09 02:48 pm (UTC)
May be the word "kAvaDi cind~" was used to mean a folk song, not necessarily the kind of music to make people jump around with kAvaDis. Many historians belive that the present character of kRShNa is a combination of several folk characters ( not necessarily historical ones ). For instance the philosophical personality who comes in chAndOgya upaniShad ( see "Early references" in this article ), the personality who roamed with rAdha and the like ( which could have come from a local Laila-Majnu-like story ), the navanIta-cOra or butter-thief, the ice-cool ruler of dvAraka etc. - might have been different local characters fused into one ( I read somewhere that one of these kRShNas is possibly bactrian Greek, but don't remember the details ). The extract you quoted should be some local tamizh legend ( which wouldn't be surprising considering the way cEra, cOza and pANDya kings used to praise themselves ) later ascribed to kRShNa, since one doesn't come across this, to the best of my knowledge, elsewhere. The lyrics you quoted might be historically crap but they are atypical of carnatic music. So what I understand is this "even the lyrics may be benign but they are associated with unclean characters, so you don't like them" - is it so?

I don't know of a link where one finds a non-hindu interpretation of gIta. I would expect such things to come from dalit websites/communists etc. which I would expect to be as partisan if not more.

The pronunciation of my username is kUpa-maNDUka; kUpaH = well, maNDUkaH = frog.

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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-10-10 03:36 am (UTC)
Do you have a romanization table you can throw my way? I have no clue how R is different from r for instance.

Dalit/communist interpretations of the gIta! the very thought brings a smile to my lips. Dalit writers have a theory that nandanar was burnt to death by the corrupt brahmins of tillai. I really want to believe this theory, because it confirms my own anti-Hindu and anti-Brahmin prejudices, and did so until Dilip came along and presented the inconvenient fact that the whole caste tension thing in the Nandanar story was a 19th century invention of Gopalakrishna Bharathi, and is not part of the sEkkizhar periyapurANam. That's one of the things on my list of things to do before i die BTW-- read the periyapurANam and figure out whether there is anything in there to substantiate the ambedkar.org version.
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From: kupamanduka
2006-10-10 12:30 pm (UTC)
I use something that is slightly different from the ITRANS encoding. Namely I write "c" and "ch" for "ch" and "chh" respectively; and "R" for "R^i" ( similarly for R^I, L^i and L^I but these letters rarely come up ).

Easier to follow is the Harvard-Kyoto convention but I don't know how many ( other than professors in the West ) use it.

Regarding legends - Buddha, Shankaracharya, Nandanar etc. - I am not sure whether to believe in their existence or not, on what basis to historians ascribe partial truth to these things which are quite possibly sheer fantasy?

As for periya purANam, may be you can check it here
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