The Virtual and the Real

The Fulbright experience should have been one of unadulterated joy and achievement.  To get to work with academics in US Universities and to get a taste of the American life is surely an experience of a lifetime. Covid-19 has undeniably cast a cloud over this experience for the 2019-2020 batch of Fulbrighters. I tried to …

Asteroid Deliverance

In his Quarantine Monologue, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel made a startling remark.  He said that an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building was approaching the earth over the weekend, and “who knows, maybe we will get lucky and it will hit us”. Was it an expression of world weariness?  World weary and an American?  That …

For an Amish Break

It looks like a long break for us from normalcy, from jostling markets and birthday parties, from celebrity concerts and nail biting sports, from school shows to mob dance.  It is sobering, humbling, unbelievable but true.  Across the globe most countries ordered their citizens to hunker down, to hide, to sit quiet as the virus ravaged cities.  And …

The River and its Ghaat

Teaching Raga Yaman to a group of Western classical music students was an education for me.  This was part of a course on Improvisation offered by Prof. Paul Erhard.   How does one teach improvisation?   In the first few classes Paul had students improvise as a dancer danced; he asked the students to improvise as they looked at …

Improvisation

There is a strange relationship between ritual and art.  Ritual is absence of creativity; art is the abundance of creativity.  And yet, rituals give birth to art and art gives birth to ritual. Improvisation, where it is permitted, is always good. Except in rituals, chanting mantras or maybe performing yoga asanas one improvises to approbation.  You don’t find …

Buddhism or Jaijaiwanti – How Can it Work for Me?

As a student of Philosophy one learns about the various “Theories of Truth” – Correspondence, Coherence and Pragmatism being the main ones.  Does your belief correspond to reality?  Then it is true. If I believe it is raining, then the way to see if the belief is true is to actually see if it is raining!  Duh.  That’s a …

Jazz – its restlessness

Jazz is a remarkable musical genre in its genesis in the African American’s oppressed life; in its bringing together various influences: African musical elements, African rhythmic strategies, Black aesthetic sensibilities of communality, blues, spirituals, marching bands, chords and harmony of Western classical music; in the rapid evolution of its form and content in a period …

Chords, discord and the Upside-Down Heaven of Trishanku

“Music is nothing but pitch intervals, consonance and dissonance.”  This is a typical Eurocentric description of music that I came across somewhere in my readings. Not only is it Eurocentric but also centered around the Western Conservatory leaving out musical expressions found in folk and other traditional musics of the West. Western conservatory music indeed has …

Mantra, tantra and Jazz

Boulder is a liberal enclave in Colorado flanked on the West by rolling hills, the magnificent Rockies. I see children playing on a large field of a Middle School near our apartment, Summit Middle School – right in the shadow of mountains.  I wonder what impact it must have on young minds – whether you get to …

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