Monday, 30 April 2012

Zimmering with satisfaction

It's time for Hans Zimmer's dynamic music to render a fitting finale to this month.

I say it's also time to squeeze in a bit of narcissism in my final post for this month.

Twenty five blog posts in the month of April with this one being the twenty-sixth. I can hardly contain my delight. Sundays were certainly off for good behavior. I earned this sense of achievement I'm feeling right now.

This month has been eventful some ways. Writing has acquired a new meaning for me. It kept me away from stress, sadness, and anger. Writing about music was the cherry on the cake. It has been a learning experience (Super-cliched line, I know). I did my homework before coming up with these posts and their respective titles.

I preached a lot especially about life and its doings. Well the thing is I was exposed to all the surprises, shocks, and disappointments, it threw during the course of this month. They followed a sequence, to form an arpeggio as I mentioned in my first post. Overall. it was an April arpeggio that I will never forget.

The examination blues that almost frustrated me, yet left feeling content by the end of it all. I can't thank the cheerful Blues plus Capo-chinos enough for helping me get through this phase.

Sadly there weren't any decelerandos this time. However the month as a whole has been quite expressivo in terms of circumstances. My friends have been big time supports, lightening my mood regularly. Some fugue huh?

April pushed me into getting into the groove of studying, blogging, composing tunes and making most of the time I had with my grandfather.

Hummingbird is one song that is still stuck in my head. A couple of impromptu jamming sessions boosted my spirits, not to mention providing inspiration.

The keys are something that I have been neglecting. I need to get back to playing my keyboard.

It hadn't been a smooth, legato-ish month. April's metronome kept up a rapid tempo of events. I can't believe a month of summer is already over. Meanwhile, guitar classes have definitely helped me sight read better; there's nothing better than joy of being able to interpret musical notes.

I wrote my first story. I decided I would keep it offbeat, and I sincerely hopes it works!

Summer break has given me a chance to pause, analyze whatever has been happening until now, and make plans to keep myself busy. Enough of quicksteps.

The crazy rhapsody of circumstances that April sang of, taught me to not get overtly affected by every little thing. Learning to be staccato.

Thatha's death wasn't unexpected. But I really miss the beautiful timbre of his personality. His passing away had the undertone of peace and happiness. He is probably content in his own place while he has given his family to gradually cope, and get used to his absence.

April has made me stronger. The low phase seems to have infused me with a vivacity to keep writing, and nurture my skills. Writing and music have proved to be the best remedy to my problems.

And as this month comes to a close, I realize it's time to relax a bit. Maybe indulge in a waltz of memories or yodel for the heck of it!

It's time for ze finale! Here's Zimmer's highly popular soundtrack - Main Theme (Pirates of the Caribbean)


And a big thanks to all my fellow bloggers for their appreciation and encouragement. Happy May!


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Yodeleyee Huu

"High on a hill was a lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Loud was the voice of the lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo!"


No points for guessing. "The Sound of Music" soundtrack would be always incomplete without this catchy yodel.

One of the wacky aspects to music is Yodeling. Almost all songs with yodels have remained unforgettable.
Yodeling is a singing technique, involving alternation in pitches of a sustained note, from low to high, by switching from the normal chest voice to falsetto and vice verse. 

Here are a few popular numbers with yodels! 


Hocus Pocus by Focus has an amazing combination of rock with yodeling!

Jewel yodeling in her lovely voice, in Chime Bells
Or cute old Jimmie Rodgers singing T for Texas :-)
 And how can I forget Kishore Kumar, the best Indian yodeler of all times! Here's Nakhrewali, a Hindi song.
Although it sounds really cool, yodeling requires a crazy deal of practice plus breath. It isn't easy to fluctuate between full throat-ed vocals and falsetto. Hence kudos to these yodelers!

Yodeling included as a part of a usual song, can bring a quirky element into it. It sounds eccentric, and heightens the mood of a song. It's a unhindered form of singing with no rules to follow. Yodels could be impromptu while performing onstage!

However, it's limited to a certain audience. I know of those who find yodeling extremely annoying, or jarring to the ears( that would include most of my peers, no offense). However, imperfect yodeling  is painful to the eardrums, and can contribute to a headache, cause in such cases, the singer ends up sounding like a dog howling in pain. Ouch.

As I have mentioned before, I'd like to consider Music as a living entity, with a variety of aspects to her  nature, be it delight, or melancholy, or pain, or passion, or somberness, or wild enthusiasm, or eccentricity that is today's highlight.

Do you have a balmy side to your nature, the wacky-cum-carefree part of your self? Well, I definitely do, and it usually surfaces when I'm amongst my close friends. The time when I let myself loose, crack silly jokes, laugh hysterically or play harmless pranks on others. Or maybe improvise crazy tunes and riffs while jamming, and generally have a real good time with everyone around.

There's one point I'd like to stress on, though. Don't go nuts to such an extent that it ends up irritating those around you. That isn't cool. That's similar to a bad yodeling overdose.

Yodeling is Music's way of letting her hair down. How about you?

Friday, 27 April 2012

X-pansivo

X
X
X
X
X.

So obscure, yet very important.

It adds a special touch to anyone or anything, you know that "X-factor", which is in great demand these days. 

A good dose of X could mean anything -
Xcstacy, Xtraordinary ,Xcellency ,Xceptionality ,Xcitement ,Xpression.

A bad dose, on the other hand has unpleasantness attached to it -
Xhaustion, Xplosion, Xasperation, Xtravagance, Xaminations.

And the list goes on and on.

It's time to revert to the topic. Technically speaking, the actual word describing overtly expressive music, gushing with emotions, is Espansivo, that has its origin in the word 'Expansive'.

I prefer subtleties to effusion. Expression is enough to emphasis the mood of any song, but, according to me, excess expression kills any form of music. I may be wrong. Maybe sometimes music needs to be effusive, as in the case of drama and background scores. Yet, it doesn't appeal to me.

I wouldn't want to name any, but I already have list of singers and bands that are con molto Xpansivo, in they way they sing and compose songs.

Moderation is the key to everything. So cliched. A much beaten to death saying.

But, there's a reason why I can't tolerate highly jumpy people around me as well. Craziness, anger, eagerness, excitement, passion should be controlled, else it just gets annoying, sometimes scary. Seriously.

It could also mean that the other person is just trying too hard. Is it all a pretense after all? Or is it genuine?

I know I just sounded really Xtreme, but it was something I just couldn't resist bringing up.






 






Thursday, 26 April 2012

Waltzing in love

They glided across the resplendant hall that seemed to stretch endlessly, oblivious of everyone present  including two faces, wild with envy. He held her so close that their faces almost touched each other, eyes held in rapture. She hadn't ever dreamt of this moment, not even in her wildest dreams. He, on the other hand, had been so enamoured by her beauty, the minute he set his eyes on her, that being in such close proximity with her was almost dream-like to him. As their steps followed the triple beats of the music, they secretly wished for the night last forever, for the music to play infinitely, and to never be separated for a long time to come. Hardly had they wished, when the enormous clock struck twelve. She broke herself free from him, and fled from the hall in panic. Incredulously, he hotfooted her, pleading her to stop. He arrived just in time to bid her a hurried farewell, as the carriage pulled ahead. Clink, fell her glass slipper that had danced the ubiquitous waltz.

 


 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Vivace

Doesn't matter if you are a brilliant opera singer,
Or a bathroom vocalist,
Or an exceptional guitarist,
Or just a novice,
Because it's the vivacity that you add to the music, which matters.


Music is zilch without spirit. Though technically, fast and lively tempos are termed as Vivace, this word has its origin in"Vivacious" which means, full of spirit or life. Quick paced numbers usually grab anyone's attention, their gusto and vigor being quite addictive. However, any song, irrespective of its pace, can be spirited as long as the musician becomes the music.

Mediocrity usually stems from lifeless, soulless music, which isn't music really. Standard beats  with just a bunch instruments thrown in, maybe an incompetent vocalist as well. And, let's not forget meaningless words. Where's the zeal?

Similarly, one's got to be upbeat and enthusiastic as often as he can; quick to overcome ugly phases and making the most of all that is good. Man, you just get one life. One chance. Being a cynic, or sluggish or some sort of a prosaic douche isn't going to help.

It's better to think of it as a song that's vivace, rather than thinking of it as tedious, dismal tune. It's better to make any vapid, unpleasant task seem appealing, for your own satisfaction, else you would sit drowning in a sea of woes.
 

Going all out, giving your best shot, is the way to a vivace nature.

Here's something quite vivace
-Have a funky night!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Unnoticed Undertones

"Every morning I still wake up and the first thing I want to do is to see your face."
- Gerry Kennedy aka Gerald Butler (P.S I love you)


This man may not have the perfect features. But he sure does have the perfect voice, expressing undertones, that are drool-worthy.

Before I get carried away, I'd like to revert to the topic.

U is for Undertones.


Undertone,technically means a low pitch, usually concerning vocals. Undertones aren't prominent,but, as the word implies, underlying the main voice.


Undertones may not always a have musical context.

However, irrespective of their context, undertones are contradictory, the antagonism full of insinuation.

Some undertones could be nasty, especially those implying contempt. Let me illustrate.
"Wow! That was a brilliant performance!" exclaims a certain Aunty, clapping like a retarded seal.


"With a lot of hamming thrown in." she says, in an undertone, to the adjacent Aunty.


Undertones could express affection. Usually all those individuals who have the rough I-don't-give-a-damn attitude, are big time softies. Beneath all that coolness and insouciance, is a heavy undertone of emotions and sentiments.

The unusual calm that sailors observe during their voyages, has an undertone of an impending storm.

At times, a warning delivered in an undertone can be more menacing than a loud threat.
Sounds familiar? Of course. All of us with mommies know the repercussions of taking their threats lightly.

Black comedies are humorous plots with undertones of morbidity.

Undertones hint at the true nature of people, actions, occurrences, warnings, and music alike. Yet, they go unnoticed most of the times. Undertones, though subdued, expose all those nuances that don't grab your attention instantly.

Before I sign out - Greenday's "East Jesus Nowhere" is on loop, rebellious with a formidable undertone.



Monday, 23 April 2012

Thatha's Timbre

"Anju! Get me some iced tea, please!"
And that was a request, ordered by a booming voice.

The most striking feature about Thatha was the timbre of his voice. Though cancer affected his vocal chords, they didn't completely lose their resonance. It was only in his last few days, that his voice and personality, both, were enfeebled. I rushed home from Bombay yesterday, only to see him in a deep, peaceful slumber from which he would never wake.

No two voices are alike. Even two Fender Squiers would sound different, when strummed simultaneously. This property is omnipresent,in music, in people, in two inanimate objects as well. Timbre sets everyone and everything apart. It's somewhat like DNA.

My grandfather had a strong persona. The timbre of his personality was unique. It was not only his voice, but also  his swagger, his expressions, his traits, his practical attitude towards his ill-health, his stubbornness, his sarcasm and his sense of humor.

Oh wait. There's more.

The timbre of his teaching methods was also spectacular. Especially when it came to Math - ascending and descending order of numbers, simple arithmetic and later Calculus and Geometry. It was a wonder how a seventy year old man could recall old school Math.

Some of his unique habits and mannerisms were -
  • He wouldn't touch water, whilst he ate his meals. No, not even a sip.
  • He had a characteristic posture while eating. His feet never dangled from the chair; right leg folded while the other bent, his left arm lying balanced on his left knee.
  • He had another characteristic posture while he relaxed on his bed, regally reclining on his soft pillow.  
  • When one tried to convince him into doing something he didn't want to, he had a fiercely scornful look that said "Whom are you trying to kid?!".
  • His reaction to anything that sounded ridiculously stupid to him - "Aamam!" translating to a sarcastic "Right!".
  • Boiled sweets were his favorite.
  • My tantrums and sob stories were dealt with nonchalant sarcasm. Technically speaking, they were wasted on him.
  • He loved intimidating people, especially shopkeepers. "Oye Pappu! Ek peppermint packet laane ke liye kya itna time lagara?!"; translation - " Pappu! Why are you taking so long to get me a packet of peppermints?!". Pappu was the name assigned to every shopkeeper.
  • He loved to drink strong, dark, South-Indian filter coffee, out of the traditional stainless steel, tumbler and dabara.
  • He loved watching "The Lion King" with me.
  • Tender coconut ice cream, iced tea and buttermilk became his favorites, once he was ridden with cancer.
  • A bowl of curd and sugar was a must with every meal.
  • He was a brilliant artist. Our house is decorated with his works.
  • Always punctual, disciplined and rational, he was his own master.

    I may have missed out on many of his other traits but Thatha's timbre was magnificent. He left us with his dignity intact.

    "You can take the moon, gather up the stars
    And the robins that sing merrily
    Put 'em in a box, tie 'em with a ribbon
    Throw 'em in the deep blue sea!"

      
    - Doris Day 
  This was his favourite number.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Staccato

Being detached to certain scenarios, and people isn't a crime. Disconnect is sometimes better than association. The strings could be played staccato.
 

Staccato is the opposite of Legato. It's the opposite of smooth connection. Staccato is a form of musical articulation, indicating that the notes should be played detached, their duration shortened. Instead of being bonded together, staccato notes sound abruptly disconnected. A combination of legato and staccato, when blended well together, adds a unique touch to the melody.
 

You may wonder how staccato could contribute to a melody when it means disconnect and disjunction. Music isn't always about smooth, free flowing notes. It isn't always about intense emotions. These are notes that show indifference, but unknowingly add to the beauty of the tune, their impassivity being superficial.

And then again, I have come across many individuals, aloof by character, never letting any emotion surface on their faces, yet putting on some sort of facade of going with the flow. The people-may-come-and-go-but-I-don't-get affected attitude. I often displayed a distaste towards such people because expression matters to me a lot.

But then there is a reason behind all that nonchalance. It's only after experiencing personal problems, that I have realized, sometimes a little bit of disconnect is the way from getting bogged down by negativity. Getting overwhelmed by every bad phase, isn't healthy. Probably, aloofness is the only solution to these problems. Probably, the staccato character behind such people is intentional, and intense to cover the fact that they care.

Moments of disconnect are important to let one deal with themselves and others around them. It isn't always about smooth, unobstructed flow.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Rhapsodically speaking

George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody of Blue' yelled "Tom and Jerry!", when I heard it for the first time today.

This piece promises anticipation at every step. It's random, frenzied and wonderfully impulsive, as if Mr.Gershwin had improvised it in a whim. It's almost as if it describes the mayhem that Tom causes while chasing Jerry.

What I described above was a rhapsody. And Rhapsody it is for all its enthusiasm and ecstasy. Such musical pieces are free style, expressing sudden mood changes. They are story tellers and narrators, depicting a variety of emotions, thus enthralling the listeners, as the music unfolds the plot.

A rhapsody is potpourri of emotions, infused with improvisations, that makes it irresistable, leaving you wanting more.

Sometimes I feel I'm living a rhapsody, filled with unpredictable events and circumstances, each one bringing out a different emotion in me. Inspite of the the mundane routines and turmoils it narrates, a large chunk of it is robustness and zest; zeal to live the moment and take everything as it comes. A rhapsody can never be morose. It brings out the best in musicians and likewise the rhapsody of life speaks of the purpose behind each experience or incident.

So, which is your favourite rhapsody?




Thursday, 19 April 2012

Quicker Quickstep

Q is for....

....


I racked my brains hard for this one but that didn't yield any results.

My mind started wandering and my ears suddenly became aware of a song playing in the background.

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night
...

Sounds familiar?

Yes of course, it's Istanbul (Not Constantinope (mind you)) by They Might Be Giants. Soundtrack for Tiny Toon Adventures. It's a comical, trippy number with a steady quick pace. I could probably dance along with the music. With someone to accompany me.

It makes me want to take quick steps.

That's it!

Quickstep!

I researched a bit about this song and concluded that this song is of the genre Quickstep. Technically speaking, it is an energetic form of dance, that involves swift movements, brimming with zest. Quickstep, as a dance music genre, is dominated by unconventional rhythms or as Wiki puts it, syncopations, that add the oomph to the dance. It has a strong essence of the genteel Foxtrot, tempo increased. Quickstep, is thus an elegantly zingy genre!

The steps come to you quickly when you hear Quickstep. Not only that, but it also enlightened me quickly!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pausa

Sometimes if you pause and analyze the momentum in which your whole life has been whizzing past you, a myriad of realizations will come tumbling down upon you.

How many times do you find that moment of rest or solace that makes you stop for a bit, enjoy the sights and sounds around you?

How many times have you found the time to clear old cupboards; forgotten treasuries of black and white photographs, yellowed letters and diaries, key-chains, jaded purses, tarnished earrings, usually invisible dresses and shirts , dried up ink pens, a non functional wrist watch, old but tantalizing perfumes, and the list could go on. Each treasure has a memory associated with it which in turn is linked to another and that to another, and so on; it's a beautiful train that takes you down the memory lane. Credit goes to that small period of repose that enabled your mind to get onto this train.

A five minute coffee break is also ample time to take your mind of stress and tensions that bog you down; Bittersweet caffeine and its amazing effects on the human brain.

You are not a robot or a machine that works without a break. (Even machines and robots need a break, else they would heat up and Boom! Ok, I'm rambling..sorry). You wouldn't possibly be able to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences, if your life sped past you at the breakneck speed of a fire engine. Often, I have heard middle-aged individuals talk regretfully about their lives. "It was such a blur, that we could hardly grasp what was happening." They didn't have enough pauses in their lives.They probably always felt choked and overwhelmed by Time's pace.
 
A similar concept of rests and pauses is applicable in music. According to Wiki, "A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music, marked by a symbol indicating the length of the pause." Rests vary with duration. They have different names and symbols.

They say music is about the variety in pitches, textures, and resonance of various instruments and voices. But actually, music also about those spaces in between the melodies. These spaces add charisma to any musical piece. They allow the music to sink in you. They let each instrument or voice breathe at intervals.A song can't consist of non-stop music that makes absolutely no sense by the end of it.

Claude Debussy said it more simply:
Music is the space between the notes.

These spaces have a much deeper meaning than you think.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Offbeat

 Sometimes breaking rules is worth giving a shot. Go offbeat!

"You must think out of the box!" How many times has one heard this much beaten to death phrase? Cliched but true,it's important if you don't want to be counted as an average. There's no crime in being ordinary, unexceptional,conventional, following the steadfast rules of life. However when it comes to the essence, and experiencing the awesome sensation of having achieved something big in life, it's all about thinking different, taking risks and using unconventional approaches in tackling universal problems. It's the way to self satisfaction. It's a trait that brings you in the limelight, reflexively. It's inspiring. It's attractive.

Okay, enough of preachy lines and phrases. Musically, an offbeat is an "unaccented beat in a measure", that usually adds appeal to any piece of music. Unconventional beats transform the nature of a song, making it eccentric or quirky at times, changing its mood astonishingly. My ears adore songs with offbeat sections! 


Coming up with such tunes, isn't a cakewalk. A good knowledge of the conventional music, measures and rhythm is required to insert that way-out bit of melody in the song.

Moral of the story? Being average, knowing mediocrity, is the base for going offbeat. Try it. test it. If doesn't work out, experiment.

You have got to be on beat to know what it's like to go offbeat.







Monday, 16 April 2012

Note it down

Any form of sound that is melodious to the ear falls under this universally loved category called Music. What is it? It's an organization of a number of sounds, pleasurable to the human ear, in appropriate rhythm and harmony. You create and improvise it. Life without music, is body without soul, lackluster, minus any inspiration or emotion.

Music is an entity, a rather special one that too, which understands a particular language of unique characters called Notations. As an individual, music is naturally, con molto expressivo, evoking various moods and emotions through this language. Musical notes are maps to melodies, binding them to paper, making them accessible to a wider audience. Rhythm, tempo, key, scales, and octaves can be expressed easily by notations. They have to be understood and learnt; there is a multitude of teachers who are willing to share their knowledge.

Consider this - Had Mozart not known this language, his beautiful compositions, symphonies and solos would have died a tragic death along with him; the world would have missed out on the works of a genius. That being a hypothesis, those numerous sheets of endless notations, representing his brilliant works, have survived. They continue to be used by millions of budding musicians, who can't help but marvel at his proficiency. Long live Mozart!

Knowing the musical language isn't a must. However, it is tremendously beneficial to those who know it. Improvisations, though easily created in the mind, are prone to memory lapses. It's always a good idea to note it down, so that later they can be reproduced by musical instruments and voices alike.

Before I sign off, I would suggest you take note of my post. Who knows, it may come useful at some point.



Saturday, 14 April 2012

Metronomy

We all have an inbuilt metronome that maintains the tempo of our whole being.

Metronome is synonymous with beats and measure. It's an instrument that maintains the pace of any musical composition. Without a constant tempo, music of any kind would sound haphazard and erratic. Tempo sets the mood and feel of a song or melody. A combination of various instruments and tempos gives rise to a melange of genres. Thus you have a slow paced Jazz fusion, a kicky Country number, the lazy Blues, hardcore Metal, Trance that transports to a world of quirkiness, the roughness of Grunge, the passionate Soul, etcetera ; the list goes on. A genre for each and every mood.

Music is not the only thing that requires a metronome. The heart is one powerful metronome that maintains our pace, rhythm in the form of heart beats. Some complain of living a fast-paced life while others complain of living a slow paced one.

The workaholic feels that the days whiz past him.
The Student wants the days to fly, burden of academics driving him nuts.
Homemakers often complain of aimless, sedentary lives.
Vacations make one wish for a lazy, slow paced life.

Slow or fast, the heart maintains its tempo.It gets used to emotion and its ways. It has a pace for every emotion be it excitement, grief, anger, frustration, curiosity, shock, panic or passion - it's highly adjustable.It's an amazing metronome that measures every moment, every feeling.

No points for guessing who designed it.

Sometimes one forgets to value this instrument. You take it for granted. But without it, one would be nothing.There would be no constancy, no cycle. Without it, I wouldn't possibly be able to think and feel the right emotions to come up with this post.

There is a reason why they call it the Heart of Life.



Friday, 13 April 2012

Legato

In music, the connection of musical notes, smooth and gentle, has a soothing effect. Legato, simply means, to be tied together.

Legato makes the toughest, highly intricate guitar leads and solos, seem effortless, when played perfectly. Hendrix is the God of Legato according to me. Slash, follows suit.

Legato reminds me of a rippleless lake, almost mirror-like, where in gazillions of drops are connected together to form an undisturbed mass of water.

Legato reminds of a sea as well. You may ask why. I just mentioned a placid lake. But the waves that make up the sea, though sharp at times and gentle at others, are linked by invisible undercurrents. Quite contrary to the soothing effect of a Legato, the legato of waves renders a turbulent character to the sea.

I wouldn't want to live life like the perfect lake, listless and predictable, events that turn into a meaningless legato. I'd prefer if it were like a rough sea, unknown, surprising and unpredictable. I wouldn't regret living a  legato of ups and downs (with all my cribbing and complaints, of course). Saying "Wow, that was one kick-ass journey!" at the end of it, is worth experiencing such a meaningful legato.

It's time today's legato came to an end. The legato of my words in the post.

Only fifteen minutes left for tomorrow.

Goodnight.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Keys to music


They say the world is not black and white. But the world in which piano keys are from, defies this tenet.
 
There is no dearth of keys in my house. We have keys for the main door, kitchen door, bedroom doors, bathroom doors, cupboards, suitcases, car, bike and cycle. Everything needs to be safe and secured. The key to that? Keys of course.

Oh yes, I forgot one thing - Computer keys, around which our lives revolve.

These are the keys in my house, that are close to my heart.

A vocalist's best friend, they love singing along with a good voice.They talk to each other. If you want to listen to their non-stop chatter, you should listen to Mozart's piano Sonata No. 11. Romance, melancholy, excitement, morbidity, wrath or delight - you name it and they will create the appropriate atmosphere to suit your mood. They love long fingers, they do. They never tire from producing melodies, each one defining a new character in their personality. Oh well, they have their families. Families known as Scales. These families cooperate with each other. They get together often to produce great melodies. They have their undertones and overtones. Moreover, they add an element of completion in any musical composition - the role of securing it. Hence, called Keys. How fitting is that?

My stick fingers click with a snicker
And, chuckling, they knuckle the keys;
Light footed, my steel feelers flicker
And pluck from these keys melodies.

My paper can caper; abandon
Is broadcast by dint of my din,
And no man or band has a hand in
The tones I turn on from within.

At times I'm a jumble of rumbles,
At others I'm light like the moon,
But never my numb plunker fumbles,
Misstrums me, or tries a new tune. 


- John Updike







Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Jams and jims

Improvisation and jam go together like bread and butter.

I'm a free bird! It's time to say bye bye to exams, biochemistry and dull textbooks. Hello holidays! :-)

The first thought that I ran into my head the second I stepped out of the lab was to call a friend with whom I could jam. It's nice to have friends who are musically inclined. I thought of my guitar and all those tunes I improvised while staring at random words in my book. I have two months of freedom stretching ahead of me. I can probably implement all my plans and ideas.

Jam. It has its types.It's unpleasant when it's on the road, Traffic's best friend. It could even befriend a shutting door and hurt your fingers, if they accidentally come in its way.

But.

 It's delicious on a golden toast with buttery edges. It's wonderfully sweet, with an essence of strawberries or pineapples or mangoes or a combination of all.

It plays the best role in music. It gives all musicians a high. It gets you drunk on riffs and lyrics, produced on the spur. A moment that is musically charged can make you head-bang or make your fingers go crazy on the fretboard or give your vocal cords a kick. There is no audience to please or a stage that can make you nervous. It's about making music that delights you, without giving a damn and sometimes it's better than a high that a stage performance or a gig renders.


I'm sure you must have figured which one's my favorite.

Take your pick!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Impromptu-ness

I know such a word doesn't exist. Impromptu it is.

I rather fancy the sound of this word. It's a word that has been created on the spur and likewise it means the same - on the spur. You must have heard of impromptu dances, impromptu singing, impromptu speeches and the like. It's pretty much a word used in music - a free-form musical composition with the character of an ex tempore improvisation as if prompted by the spirit of the moment. (Wikipedia)

One split second of a moment is time enough for a brainwave to shoot through your head, the result of which maybe superb or maybe a major disaster.

Impromptu-ness, if successful, can save you from tricky situations. For instance, there are times when even the most amazing vocalists miss out on a beat while performing live. (Yes that could lead to an epic fail; I have seen it happen on television, trust me, I have.) Who comes to the rescue? The rhythm guitarists or the drummer, of course. Their motto - Improvise and save the situation.

Impromptu signifies spontaneity. A rather appealing character that enhances a person's nature. It's a key to building self confidence in a person. Trapped in a soup? Gassing and bluffing to escape is alright as long as it's not too serious(Been there, done that). The-don't-worry-I-can-handle-this-mess attitude stems from being impromptu.It's a way to let your creative juices flow. Everything doesn't have to be rehearsed, practised, perfected or planned in advance. Often, impromptu holiday plans are precursors to great experiences and memories.

Oh and I forgot to mention -Impromptu-ness in males is estrogen stimulating. (Not kidding, it is.).

I like being unprepared once in a while. (Ok barring the fact that I hated being unprepared for today's Computer Science paper.It was terrible.)

Writing is an extemporaneous exercise for me. I love it. Today's post was rather impromptu, I must say.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Hummingbird don't fly away

" Oh she's little and she loves me
Too much for words to say
When I see her in the morning sleeping
She's little and she loves me
To my lucky day
Hummingbird don't fly away."


I couldn't think of anything. I ended up listening to Leon Russell.

The women he loves is compared to a humming bird.
So sweet.
So plain.
She knows the words to say.
And she gives him a little understanding in her special way.

A really cute comparison, I must say. It's nice to know that he realised her worth.

Some guys never get it. Sometimes women are more than what they deserve.

Blues.

I never get tired of you. :)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Get into the Groove!

So says Madonna.

Bet this word features in the Top Ten Words of a music zealot's vocabulary. 

Groove is the sensation created when different elements of music interact with each other. It's all about those groovy rhythms, groovy riffs and groovy beats that give you that kick, that punch which makes you bob your head with headphones, or maybe tap your feet to the beats or do a small jig or even go ahead and dance like there's no tomorrow.
 

 It's only when those catchy riffs are combined with the energized beats of a drum, blending in with the soft tones of a piano or with the high pitch of a violin, in a steady tempo, that you exclaim, "Man I can feel the music now!".  Take the tabla and drums. Or the guitar and the flute. Or Hindustani Classical vocals with Opera. The fusion of tones and voices is amazing and that's what makes it groovy.

Life is quite groovy, if you actually sit and analyze.

I'm not talking about our mundane routines, jobs, academics and those hassles. Yeah, I have cribbed about life being miserable and horrible but it's not always like that. It follows a pattern, a cyclic cadence. You have your woes, but they are soon followed by pleasures. Slogging at work or at college or school? Don't worry, a break will soon be round the corner. Yeah, there's a whole lot of philosophy regarding a stress-free and a care-free life. But, according to me, sometimes stress is the key to put me back into a groove; a goal to be accomplished that follows some sort of an agenda. It keeps me on my toes and I like that for a change. Likewise, being on a vacation with my family lets me breathe, relax and let my hair done for a while. The fast pace of life with it's tensions, claustrophobia, monotony and woes in combination with its surprises, joys and moments makes it quite groovy.
 

For now, I shall sign off with Junkyard Groove's "It's Ok."

It's Ok, it's alright.


:-)

Friday, 6 April 2012

Friendly Fugue

F is for Fugue

Mum was talking about a fugue and its concept. I decided to look it up. A fugue? It is a musical composition that combines one or more melodies in different voices. Or as The Free Dictionary would put it, "In music, it is a form of composition in which the basic principle is imitative counterpoint of several voices."

Here's an entertaining tutorial by Mr.Daniel Pi, on how to write a fugue. Enjoy.

A central theme that is expressed in several different, voices and pitches, simultaneously, is what constitutes a fugue. Each melody retains its individuality, but at the same time imitates another,  but their culmination, results into beautiful music.

Yes, Bach is the Father of Fugue. GO LISTEN.

Yes, Deep Purple enthusiasts, Highway Star begins with a fugue-y riff. I just figured.

Come to think of it, friendship is a fugue. My best friends and I aren't similar; poles apart, you can say. Yet, there is something that has made us click.As individuals we think and do different, yet there is this bond that holds us together. There are moments when we agree, when we laugh and when we share those special moments.Then again, there are moments when we don't get along, when we disagree and when we argue.It's a mixture of emotions, moments and experiences. The theme of our fugue is friendship. A soulful fugue that has given each of us, a storehouse of memories.

Could you think of another fugue?




Thursday, 5 April 2012

Expressivo eh?

I hate expressionless songs and expressionless people; anything which is lackluster or as Lady Gaga would put it, poker-faced. They dampen my enthusiasm. They spoil my mood.

I also hate songs and people that pretend to be expressive, but are impassive in real, without an ounce of soul in them.

Yes I am an animated person. Go on, you can call me a cartoon. Be it delight, or gloom, or anger, or hurt, or worry, or nervousness, or curiosity, or excitement, or love, or hatred, my face expresses them all. I can’t pretend to be this introverted, quiescent sort of a person. It doesn’t suit my personality.

Any piece of music which is clich├ęd, mediocre without that zing or that X- factor never catches your attention. Think of Roadhouse Blues, Hotel California, Money for Nothing, Tears in Heaven, Thriller, Beethoven’s 9th symphony, Fur Elise, Knocking on Heaven’s Doors and the like. These tunes haven’t been forgotten. The lyrics come easily to you. Some of them are trippy, some soothing, some reflective, some melancholic, some light hearted, some romantic, etcetera.

But they are what Italians would term being expressive as, Expressivo.

Expression is the key to a brilliant painting, a soulful song, a zesty dance, a thrilling novel and the like. Feigned feelings or expressions can be detected easily.

Gary Cherone sings,
“More than words
Is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cause I'd already know.”

And this is my favourite romantic number. The words are right. You don’t have to be in a romantic mood to listen to this song. The guitar strings follow the melody. The lyrics speak volumes about his affection.

And Enrique sings,
“I can be your hero, baby.
I can kiss away the pain.
I would stand by you forever.
You can take my breath away.”

Shutup, will you?

Mr. Right from the future, you know which song to choose, to make me smile.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Decelerando!

I contemplate over the few decelerandos that I have encountered in my life. Some events are like those lingering decelerandos, that break the pace of my regular routine,  fill it with special moments, then fade away, leaving me feeling content.

Think of Mozart. Or Beethoven. Or even Eighties rock for that matter. That last bit of a catchy piece or a trippy rhythm, which finishes off with a slackening in the tempo, never goes unnoticed. "Decelerando" in Spanish or 'rallentando' in Italian, is a term used in western classical music to describe a gradual decrease in speed of music.

I recently came across this term, which aptly describes a "lazy deceleration of the tempo that seems to have less certainty and drama..."

It is usually unexpected and fills you with momentary anticipation, an eargasm, as it leads you to an almost perfect finish to a foot-tapping melody.

12th Grade. Each day was defined by coaching classes, books, examinations, tension and stress. It was drab with nothing to look forward except a mountain of homework and fat textbooks that always seem to smirk at me.Life was a blur. There were moments when I felt suffocated; stress would choke me. I would wake up at 3 A.M feeling restless; crease lines on my forehead refusing to disappear. Board Examinations seemed far away. I could hardly wait for them to get over and enjoy the sweet taste of freedom.

They ended of course. It was only a matter of time. And then came summer with its shocks and surprises.I don’t want to count the shocks. Well, the surprises were awesome decelerandos! A sudden, unexpected week long getaway to Thailand was the biggest surprise of them all! The beaches of Pattaya, Tom Yum Soup, underwater sea walks, Alcazar, para sailing, swimming, shopping at Bangkok, etcetera!

Time passed slowly in Thailand, though technically speaking, it’s one and a half hours ahead of IST.
That week was the highlight of summer. A break in the monotony of our lives; I realized it had been ages since I had spent quality time with my family. Light-hearted conversations, lazing around, contentment and fun;  they were moments that made you slow down, pause  and savor those small joys, pleasures and opportunities, that are hard to come by. 

This decelerendo did lead to a good finish. We returned home with great memories ,  a truckload of stuff we purchased at  Platinum Mall in Bangkok, photographs and videos. A much deserved, refreshing and satisfactory break!

Now, that’s one helluva decelerando.


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Capo-chino

I have a fetish for guitar capos. It’s this thing which when clamped to the neck of any stringed, fretted instrument, raises its pitch. It’s really awesome actually.  Chords played without a capo can be played on a different key by using a capo. Okay I’m probably confusing my readers but in simpler words, a capo helps a singer to accompany a guitar easily.  It enables guitarists to either increase the key of the song in order to suit the singer’s pitch or play the song in the same pitch by using easier chord shapes (the basic chords remain unchanged). It’s beneficial to both, vocals and instrument. If you still don’t get it, go read Wikipedia or some guitar tutorial site. Sorry, but I tried. Sigh.

It’s frustrating when I’m unable to play a trippy, addictive rhythm satisfactorily because of its finger-torturing chord shapes. A capo is a Godsend. Trust me, it is, even though purists and pros might term it as ‘Cheater Barres’, which is rather unfair.

My intention wasn’t to bore you with factual descriptions about this amazing device. Apologies.

I have a fetish for Cappuccinos as well. They are Godsends too, especially when I’m agitated and hyper, snapping and yelling at everyone around me. Fantastic stimulants. My life would be incomplete without Caffeine, especially cappuccinos, with extra cream and chocolate sauce. Mmm. Cappuccino floods my head with inspiring thoughts, tunes and words.It is similar to a Capo which stimulates me to play the most difficult rhythms and leads, easily, with a bit of brainstorming included; a music stimulant.

So here I am, playing an easier version of Mayer’s "Your Body is a Wonderland", capo and all, with a cup of creamy Cappuccino by my side, that is eagerly waiting to be sipped.

C is for + = Capo-chino

Guitar enthusiasts, fancy a Capo-chino?