What's fusion?

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

I am not sure how to describe myself

Thursday, November 24, 2005

When I....

So today I wanted to tell you about what I feel when I compose. Usually when I am composing something I am really really excited. I can't sit in one place when I am thinking, and I keep jumping all around, except when I practice what I have thought of. You see, usually the level of music I think of is higher than my level of playing, so I need to practice it several times so that I can play it. This also helps me remember whatever I have composed. That is one perpetual problem I face. I keep forgetting what I composed. So unless I play it a number of times or write it down, I usually don’t remember. Writing down is not such a good idea, because it takes time, and usually I forget by the time I finish writing!!

But nevertheless its not so much of a problem, because I keep coming up with new things again and again, so its ok even if did forget some of the things I composed.

Now when I listen to a song, I don’t pay as much attention to the tune or the lyrics of the songs as much as I pay attention to the feel of it. The feel is also related to the tune and lyrics also, for example I wont even hear a song the second time if the lyrics are bad. They have to be atleast descent lyrics if I have to hear it again. So I have a general idea about the lyrics and what the song wants to convey (again the feel) and leave it at that. Similarly the tune. I never remember the tune in a few hearings, only after 4-5 times of listening, I start remembering the tune. (I do manage to remember the tune better than lyrics)

Along with the tune the other nuances of the song also stay, like the music, the beats and harmony etc. That’s why you would always hear my singing the background music along with the song itself most of the time.

So actually every time I hear a song, (or a music piece) the general idea about the composer's mind is what I try to listen to. I try to find what exactly in the piece is making it sound like that and give the corresponding feel. In this way I hone, and fine tune my skill at composing. It gives me an idea about what sort of notes, beats, harmony and instruments I need to choose to give the kind of feel I want to give to my composition. Of course there is a lot of trial and error too, and most of the times heavy constraints. But I have somewhat become skilled at composing with constraints. I manage to get the best out of the musicians in all my compositions. They do have to work hard at playing my compositions.

There is always this energy in my compositions which is a reflection of me as a person. And more often than not, they are rather complicated, and at times obscure, again a reflection of my personality. I glow when I hear complex music and when I compose it, and hear it being played. Complexity has always intrigued me, more than simplicity. It amazes me to find that actually quite simple things put together make a complex thing, and the order in which you combine them really makes the difference. I look at life the same way, look at the various simplicities within an inherently complex structure.

Though the way I lead my life may seem complicated initially, I think that it is simple. My compositions too need to be heard with more care to find the simplicity in it, though it may not be apparent.

Since most of my compositions are fast paced, or atleast build up in pace, it is not too easy to spot the emotion it tries to convey. Again, it difficult to pin point a single emotion in it.
I compose when I am inspired to compose or instigated to compose. I compose when there is a reason to compose, when I feel that there is going to be an outcome to my composition. (may be in the form of a performance) At all other times I do play music spontaneously, but I don’t try and remember what I played. I just try and sharpen my faculty of composing, so that when it is called for, it performs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Last time I talked quite well about contemporary art and gave the positive side of the today's artists. I give them credit because they have a huge history of art to compete with, and have to prove themselves far better than their predecessors in order to be one of them in the future.

From my previous blog must have given an impression that wherever you look today, you would find fabulous artistes, who are able to express complex emotions easily. But on the contrary the picture is rather grim.

You would really have to search for such artistes among the dozens of mediocre artistes and maybe even among popular artistes. The irony in this that though we have a lots of artistes today, when you search for quality, the scene is quite empty!

Unfortunately this quality may not always be popular. But fortunately it is the quality which lasts. It is these quality artistes who remain in etched in the minds of people even after many years and go into the history books of art.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Emotional Growth

As I had said the last time, the 'need' to create something is as primal as hunger. But man as the zenith for evolution till now, has a lot more of complexity in him than all other animals put together. Besides the biological complexity, there is a lot of mental and spiritual complexity ingrained in man. Religion and the definition of a God has come only with man, and I think this has played a great role in man's evolution and civilization. So has his emotional growth. Man's emotions are now a complex maze unlike those of other primates.

Ofcourse for all this, man needed to develop language. And with communication, he could express complex ideas to his fellow species and so together man worked to improve his life and soceity. All this resulted in making things more and more complicated as he wanted to simplify his work. Thats the irony of civilization.

Along with civilization, and technology I think another aspect of humans did grow, namely art. I dont claim that it grew proportionately and at the same time as technology. But it did evolve nonetheless. We can see the great works of art from the past in the form of painting and sculpture. But the forms of dance, music, theatre and literature have come down the generations through the people without any sort of medium. We find perfect examples of this is in India. The Mahabharata and Ramayana are epics that have come down by word of mouth and so has the dance forms of Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kuchpidi and the music forms of Hindutani and Carnatic music. Folk music and folk dances have withstood the ravages of time and remain one of the purest forms of human expression.

The traditional and historical forms of art of Bethoven or Da Vinci or Thyagaraja or Vyasa are definitely beacons for all budding artists even now. But I think the current generation of artistes are still able to express a lot more of complexity than their predecessors. It does takes a few generations to accept the greatness of the current day art, because not all innovative artistes who make pathbreaking contributions to the field of art are recognized in their life time. I feel that the current day theatre, literature, music and dance are able to express more complex emotions and feelings as compared to some generations back.

I must take an example to prove my point. Lets take literature as an example. Everyone swears by the works of Shakespeare. And great he was no doubt. But do his works have the intricate emotional and complex feelings that are ingrained in today's life. Everything in Shakespearian works was a great idea of Tragedy, Comedy, Pathos or Frolic. Those shades of grey that we see in todays life are definitely not explored. And surely the number of shades have increased a multifold (like defining a 256 bit colour rather than a 16 bit colour ;-))

Its quite similar in music. The older forms of music though complex in musical content are rather simple in emotional content. Most of the music was an expression of a lover's love or that of a devotee's devotion. On the other hand I feel that present day compositions do bring across more shades of grey than were brought a few generations ago.

I may be wrong in classifying so severely, I dont intend to do so. But I do want make this as a general observation of increasing complexity.

Lastly I want to compare the progress in science and art. The industrial revolution and the renaissance took place around the same time in europe. Similarly music, dance and painting are receiving a totally different feel in the forms of fusion and modern art today. So these changes in art do co-incide with the technological advancement happening today. Infact technology has boosted art to a great extent. All these help in the emotional growth of the human civilization as a whole.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


What inspires an artists to paint something? What inspires a script writer to write a story? What inspires a dansuese to choregraph a dance? What inspires a poet to pen some limerics? What inspires a musician to compose a piece of music?

I dont know about the others, but atleast about music I can say that it is 'need'. Somehow people think of this creativity as a more romantic notion, of being inspired by somebody or some emotion. People like to think of something rather grand when we hear Bethoven's Fur Elise or see Leonardo's Painting of the Last Supper.

No I dont want to take away the grandeur of these excellent pieces of works by two all time great artistes. But I wanted to analyse this 'need' in a more scientific way, rather than having romanticised view of it. Lets see how much I can do it.

Need to create I think is as primal as Hunger or thirst or sex. Everybody creates new things everyday, everybody frames new sentences, everybody thinks of new things to do, everybody gets bored of doing the samething everyday, day in after day, everyone has the urge to break free. Its a need that one has for throwing down the norms of daily life and do away with the mundane things in life.

People express these in different ways. Many people do it repeatedly, some in a destrcutive manner and some in a constructive sense. Those in the destructive category, drouse themselves in liquor or drugs, resort to doing somethings publicly unaccepeted or something considered as morally or socially inappropriate. Its the 'need' to do something outrageous and something not conforming to the norms that makes these people do such things.

Diametrically opposite are the people who channelize this 'need' to do something constructive, and bring out the talent hidden in them. For this form of expressing one's 'need', one has to develop certain skills and talents so that the output is something really beautiful and something appeciated by the world.

However we can find a few intances of people who get mixed up in these paths, drug addicts who are great musicians or some fabulous painters addicted to smoking joints. But according to me the driving force or 'need' for either way of living one's life is the same.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Ya I did it!!

So that was the performance I was always waiting for. I made my debut, though in a very small fashion for a small audience. Almost everyone congartulated me on my performance and told me that I managed to get the sound of a sitar out of my guitar. I thought I did'nt play to the best of my potential, but nevertheless did a good job.

I hope this boosts my confidence and helps me play further and more profound pieces.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One of my dreams come true!

So tomorrow is one of those rare days when one of my dreams come true. It will be the first time I wil be performing a solo classical event on my Guitar. I would be playing an 10 min composition of my own in the classical style, like sitar or sarod.

The best part of the whole thing is, that the whole composition is extempore. I would be playing whatever comes to my mind at that moment. I do really hope that the program comes out well and then I would be more confident about performing elsewhere.

Monday, August 22, 2005


However much a recluse I am, and how much ever I feel that music is my private property it is not much of fun without a good audience. However I dont find it necessary to have a huge audience and I dont want to have one. I feel most comfortable playing my music in the company of a small audience who would appreciate my music.

I had a friend, long back who would listen to my music for hours together patiently (through all my mistakes) and give me good critical comments on my playing. Life took the usual turns and I found myself devoid of the audience that would listen so patiently. I did find some other audience which appreciated some different forms of my music and I did find pleasure performing for them.

Recently I have found another friend who has the same patience and can listen to me playing for hours on end without complaining. On who can absorb all the essence of my music and comment on it with just a few words that touches the same chord that had touched me while I was playing. Thats just the feeling of joy I look out for. This joy for me is boundless!!

My music has changed a lot over the years compared to what I played for my first friend. I also do play different kind of music, and also my command over it has improved to a great extent. So mistakes are less and I can express a wider gamut of feeling and emotions. I only wish that my old friend would also listen my music sometime later and I hope life turns once again in favour of my wish :-)