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Life is a long, wondrous and continuous introduction to yourself.

The act of creation — it leads me to unknown places. Only to make me realize that all was known, always. And yet, I live every day with the hope that I’ll explore, create and grow into someone new. Because what’s life if not a long, wondrous and continuous introduction to yourself.

In this journey, music lives by my side. I find melody in my writing, and a lot of writing in my melodies. Sometimes, I hear songs in the bubbles of boiling tamarind water. Or in the stroke of red paint over the canvas. Or in the giggles of a child after a good joke. Tunes find their way even into my boredom, curiosity and the thoughts in between. And a rhythm taps into my sorrow, so it can take the leap to laughter.

Such is music. Such is life — yours and mine.


Cultural Baggage

Three short compositions a week and a phrase of 'Numb - piano version' - This is the usual format of my piano lessons. After the initial confusion, I managed to make this work for me. And last week, I realized that I show steady progress in western music lessons. I did however, nod in positive when someone said if the shape in this famous picture is of a Clef. It's of a note and I didn't correct myself on time.

Besides these minor, embarrassing setbacks which remind me that I am not a musician if I call myself one; I am happy with the way things are. The lessons add to my confidence and inspire me to devote enough practice-time every week.

I also learn Carnatic Music from a great musician. His wisdom is incredible and his innovative teaching methods have helped me look at Indian classical music in a new way. However, when I look at the kind of progress I make in the western lessons, I find the Carnatic Music lessons direction-less. It upsets me, stresses me out and I am tempted to go back to all those years of childhood when I got trained to be a singer.

I grew up in a typical Tamil Brahmin set up, although my parents are/were relatively liberal and open minded. Music was always an important part of our culture. So, I took training from 3 different teachers and after deducting breaks, my total learning period was 5 years. I performed several times, and won a few competitions as well. My voice was the greatest reason I stood out, whenever I did. But I had a hard time relating to the form of music. Here are some of the reasons for that:

  • I lived in a city in North India and this classical form is a part of the South Indian lifestyle
  • There was a cultural gap between school, college and the music classes
  • Most of the songs were in a language that I don't understand
  • There is/was very little text on Carnatic Music
  • It evolved in a Gurukul system and hence, the lessons were passed on from teachers without a common structure

The last two reasons continue to affect and pose a problem in my growth as a musician. Compared to the different kind of associations that I can make with western music, there is almost no passive interaction with Carnatic Music. The only conversations I have are with my teacher; there are no constant social media updates on the subject; there is no hobby group where I can immerse myself in the dialogue and questions about the music.

I enjoy Carnatic Violin immensely, and since I remember I have had a violin as my signature sketch. But as I understand, it's not enough. I need to find a way to make my development flow.