Ragas & Stories, Transformative Power of Music, Ghazals & Qawwalis

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A new year has been ushered in with great hope all across the world. While we wait for the vaccines to be distributed stories of resilience from around the world give us hope. Musicians too are adjusting to the new normal and continue to do their best to make the world a better place.

Ragas & Stories
Ask yourself the question, what does any raga do for you? Many a raga comes with its own story, often aprocryphal. Tansen and his daughter singing ragas Deepak and Malhar at the Mughal court to create a fire and storm effect is one such. Raga Varali was believed to cause a falling out between a teacher and their student. Fortunately my teacher did not believe this. To me the raga Varali is much more than the sound of a bee’s humming.

Transformative Power of Music
We’ve all heard the old adage, the best way to learn something is to teach it. I’ve come to appreciate this, as I begin teaching a course on the musical traditions of India at Ahmedabad University. My search for some interesting videos on how to inculcate a love for music led me to Benjamin Zander, the director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. His TED talk about the transformative power of classical music here shows how it can make a difference in the way we lead our lives.

Ghazals & Qawwalis
Poetry when set to music adds a whole new dimension to the listeners experience. Whether it is a ghazal that tugs at the heartstrings or a qawwali that creates a hypnotic experience, the impact of lyrics presented in beautiful melodies can be transcendental. The story of how Ghazals and Qawwalis made their way across continents from 7th century Arabia and Persia is well worth a read.

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