The music of life – remembering Mahatma Gandhi in the year of his 150th birthday

Mahatma Gandhi  * my idea of music

I would go so far as to say that Western music which has made immense strides should also blend with the Indian. Visva-Bharati is conceived as a world university […]  I have a suspicion that perhaps there is more of music than warranted by life, or I will put the thought in another way. The music of life is in danger of being lost in the music of the voice. Why not the music of the walk, of the march, of every movement of ours, and of every activity? […] So far as I know, Gurudev [Rabindranath Tagore] stood for all this in his own person.

From a letter to Rathindranath Tagore (22 December 1945), quoted in: The Oxford India Gandhi: Essential WritingsCompiled and edited by Gopalkrishna Gandhi. New New Delhi, 2008 (p. 568)

Born on October 2, 1869, the father of the nation is known of his struggles for non-violence, equality and freedom. However, does anyone know how good Gandhi was as a student?

Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbandar on October 2, 1869 and received primary education in the city. He was not a bright student and used to learn by writing with his finger in the dust. He was neither considered to be very gifted in the classroom nor in the playing field. However, a book ‘Mahatma on the Pitch: Gandhi & Cricket in India’ talks about how his fondness of cricket. – Read more in the Indian Express (9 October 2018) >>

Unveiling of new UN stamps at “Non-violence in Action” (on the occasion of the International Day of Non-Violence)

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi quoted by H.E. Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly on the occasion of the International Day of Non-Violence at the United Nations >>

Integrated Music Education – Challenges of Teaching and Teacher Training – Book release during ISME 2018 world conference for music education

“Thinking and learning in South Indian Music” by Ludwig Pesch, chapter 4 in:

Markus Cslovjecsek, Madeleine Zulauf (eds.)
Integrated Music Education – Challenges of Teaching and Teacher Training
Peter Lang Publishers, Bern, 2018. 418 pp., 29 fig. b/w, 2 tables
MOUSIKÆ PAIDEIA Music and Education/Musik und Bildung/Musique et Pédagogie. Vol. 1 pb.
ISBN 978-3-0343-0388-0

This book was presented  during the 33rd ISME World Conference for Music Education (isme2018.org) on Wednesday 18 July 2018.

About this book

Schools are generally oriented towards discipline-based programmes and therefore students often accumulate fragmented knowledge, disconnected from real life concerns. The eighteen contributors to this work suggest that music offers a highway to developing a more appropriate integrated education. They present a range of views on Integrated Music Education rooted in various cultural traditions, based on several interdisciplinary models and integrated arts curricula, inspired by psychological concepts and referenced to recent teaching experiments as well as original research.

In this innovative book, the reader is invited to go beyond the dichotomy between ‘education in music’ and ‘education through music’, exploring the opportunities put forward by Integrated Music Education thanks to a constant movement from the theoretical roots through a precise description of teaching activities to the benefits for students in terms of integration of knowledge, personal development, and social and cultural belonging. Lastly, there are some new and interesting ideas for training teachers.

https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/34993

Rhythmic patterns and sound that came before sense

why_birds_sing-david_rothenberg_2005

Sanskrit is among the oldest languages, of all our Indo-European tongues. Now [Frits] Staal* says mantras, rhythms of sound that do not quite make sense, may lie at the roots of Sanskrit. Here’s an ancient song from the Vedas to be sung in the forest: Ayamayamayamayamayamayamauhova. Literally all it means is “thisonethisonethisonethisonethisonnnnnne …”

You are supposed to sing it when you consecrate an altar out of doors. Staal believes such resonating, repeating measures of sound may be older than human language itself. It may have worked like this: Our ancestors chanted rhythmic patterns of sound long before we ever thought that sounds should signify specific things. Sound came before sense, before we had history, back in the time of birds. Language came out of ritual rather than the other way around.

Why birds sing : a journey through the mystery of bird song by David Rothenberg. New York: Basic Books, ©2005, p. 185.

http://www.worldcat.org/title/why-birds-sing-a-journey-through-the-mystery-of-bird-song/oclc/57557354&referer=brief_results

* Frits Staal. Ritual and mantras: rules without meaning. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996, 1993. [For the above quote, see other ed., New York: Peter Lang, 1990, p. 305]

http://www.worldcat.org/title/ritual-and-mantras-rules-without-meaning/oclc/38058450&referer=brief_results

No complacency in the search for creativity: Manickam Yogeswaran (The Hindu)

Review by Garimella Subramaniam, The Hindu, January 05, 2017 | Read the full review >>

“The many dimensions of the musical persona of Berlin-based Manickam Yogeswaran of Sri Lankan origin are not easy to fathom just from hearing him sing at one recital. […]

However, a conversation over coffee at Chamiers, days after a performance for Tamil Isai Sangam at Raja Annamalai Mandram, gave a glimpse of the different facets of the disciple of T.V. Gopalakrishnan and his exposure to Hollywood. […]

Yogeswaran’s forays into western classical ensembles, and his key role in global music forums for nearly three decades is a career graph, perhaps, typical of the wider scene in the performing arts these days. At the same time, it is the emotional need to stay anchored to the cultural milieu of one’s roots that probably explains Yogeswaran’s crucial engagement with Carnatic music. […] The challenge now, he says, is to nudge current generation of South Asians from a false sense of security about the future of this traditional art form. The conveniences afforded by technology, in terms of access to the treasure trove of recordings of great masters, ought not to breed complacency in the search for creativity, he argues. The key lies in continued reliance on the rigours of relentless individual ‘sadhana,’ a hallmark of classical music.”

http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/Revelling-in-his-classical-roots/article16992760.ece

Indian music in intercultural education – ISME Glasgow 2016

ludwig_isme2016_2

Whatever we understand and enjoy in human products instantly becomes ours, wherever they might have their origin – Rabindranath Tagore*

During this presentation, musical figures from several distinct traditions were explored in a practice-oriented manner. The figures selected are appealing beyond South Asia where they originated many centuries ago and continue to play a key role in classical and applied music.

Our shared goal was to enable young and old to collaborate in a memorable learning process that blends seemlessly into any chosen subject, academic and otherwise.

The criteria for selecting a particular figure were (1) its flexibility as for combining it with another subject, for instance mathematics, geography or history; (2) its appeal going by prior experience with learners from different age groups; and (3) its scope for variation, movement, visualisation and analysis in accordance with learners’ specific needs and abilities.

Click on the above image to view or download and print a sample lesson for free (PDF with mp3 audio and other links)
Click here to view or download and print a sample lesson for free (PDF with mp3 audio and other links)

Scope

As part of integrated music education, Indian music enables even complete strangers to share a useful learning process. This calls for a natural and playful approach to melody, rhythm, hand signs and body movement. In this manner we are prepared to include newcomers – children and adults lacking a common language – to instantly participate in music.

Indian music is valued for fostering memory, analytical thinking, concentration, and cooperation among peers. Its basic concepts are exhilarating and liberating whether or not there is scope for studying Indian culture in its own right. This is a boon in circumstances where verbal or written instructions fail to engage learners. Rather than resigning in the face of such formidable challenges, educators are free to experiment and spread solidarity through instant inclusion – the essential joy of “creating” music oneself. This aspect addresses a common fear among learners, namely to be left behind (again!), be it in music or other subjects – a fear that is all too often justified in competitive modern society.

To help educators to overcome such fears, we build lessons around simple figures that bind tunes, rhythms and movements together into a rounded whole. Some of these may appear familiar enough to “break the ice” if needed; and others are so fresh and mind-boggling as to trigger further experimentation among peers in informal settings – anywhere and anytime. For this to happen, we dispense with technical resources of any kind.

Adaptation is the key to rapidly changing learning scenarios wherein cultural stereotyping, a known stumbling block for educators all over the world, must be overcome. This is easily achieved by integrating Indian music into discussions of academic concepts, or by letting its rhythms enrich social and outdoor activities. Such activities are by definition location specific and all-inclusive.

ludwig_isme2016_1

Educators from Canada, Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Singapore and Switzerland were among the eleven participants in this one-hour session. They explored a time proven method suited to the needs of a wide range of abilities and learning goals; and this irrespective of participants’ cultural roots.

Date: 28 July 2016 | photos by courtesy of Dr. Tony Makarome, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Singapore

More information

*Rabindranath Tagore in a letter to C.F. Andrews; quoted by Amartya Sen in The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity. London: Penguin, 2005, p. 86.

Santiniketan: Birth of Another Cultural Space – Free e-book by Pulak Dutta

Of all living creatures in the world, man has his vital and mental energy vastly in excess of his need, which urges him to work in various lines of creation for its own sake […] Life is perpetually creative because it contains in itself that surplus which ever overflows the boundaries of the immediate time and space.
Rabindranath Tagore in The Religion of an Artist *

KG Subramanyam with Pulak Dutta – Santiniketan 2009

Download : Santiniketan Birth of Another Cultural Space (free e-book) here >>

Pulak Dutta. Santiniketan: Birth of Another Cultural Space. Santiniketan 2015.
Contact: pulaksantiniketan@gmail.com

* Quoted by Pulak Dutta (p. 97) from Sisir Kumar Das (ed.). The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore Vol 3. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi 2006 (pp. 687-8)

India Inspiration – Tropenmuseum Amsterdam

For ten years this exhibition celebrated the sources of inspiration shared by Indian and Western artists; and at the same time, it traced the role of migrants from India via Surinam through songs, memorabilia, and documentary film footage.

Concept and research: Ludwig Pesch (www.aiume.org) in collaboration with museum staff and Architectenbureau Jowa (www.jowa.nl).

Photographs © Ludwig Pesch

This exhibition was one of the five themes in the exhibition “Round and About India”: Wanderings

Amsterdam-Museum-Tropen_Visit

Storytellers and actors brought their stories to every corner of India. Today their narrative boxes, scrolls and performances are increasingly being replaced by modern mediums, but they have not yet disappeared.

India is a country of stories and storytellers. Opportunities abound in the exhibition Round and About India to watch and listen to narratives about people, ideas and objects. Every item has a tale, every person has something to tell. Whether it is festivals and processions, commerce and history, gods and heroes, pilgrimages and wanderings.

In this exhibition these stories are the central features of performances in dance, theatre and music.

On display until 2017

Visit the Tropenmuseum

This museum is one of Amsterdam hidden treasures. Located off city centre in a beautiful old building in East Amsterdam (Amsterdam Oost), Tropenmuseum often remains forgotten, like an old collection of post stamps. However, if you are interested in other cultures, other countries and distant lands – do no miss it.

Amsterdam Tropenmuseum exhibit is modern, fascinating on many levels and inspiring. […] Modern and intelligent presentation makes the visit pleasant to a larger public, including children. | More information: www.amsterdam.info/museums/tropenmuseum

Some notes on Rabindranath Tagore and his role in fostering “sympathy of the East and West” during his visit to The Netherlands in fall 1920

In his poetry, for which he received the Nobel Prize for Literature as Asia’s first awardee in 1913, Tagore uses musical instruments as metaphors for self-realization and transcendence; notably the vina (or “veena”, often translated as “harp”) and the flute. In a letter to Frederik van Eeden, his Dutch translator, he wrote:

“Very often I think and feel that I am like a flute – the flute that cannot talk but when the breath is upon it, can sing. I am sure you have seen me in my book and I shall never be able to make myself seen to you when we meet; for the body of the lamp is dark, it has no expression, only its flame has the language.” (signed in London, 9 August 1913) [1]

This recurring motif may excuse the amusing blunder by a cartoon character (the alter ego of the museum’s former Curator for South Asia), who hails Tagore as “India’s greatest flautist”! [2]

In an earlier letter to Van Eeden, written seven years before visiting the Netherlands, Tagore wrote:

“Still I cannot deny that this award of the Nobel Prize has been a great thing. It is the handshake of sympathy of the East and West across the water – it has proclaimed the oneness of humanity.” (signed in Shanti Niketan, 12 December 1913) [1]

Tagore_Vrije_Gemeente_Spaarnestad1920
Rabindranath Tagore in Amsterdam (Vrije Gemeente 1920) © Spaarnestad Photo – click on the photo for more details and to zoom in

In 1920 Tagore spoke before packed houses including the “free congregation”: the humanistic and cosmopolitan “Vrije Gemeente” whose highly placed members had built a magnificent church at the Weteringschans in Amsterdam. (It now houses Amsterdam’s prime pop venue, known as “Paradiso”.)

Tagore’s lecture tour made a lasting impression on countless listeners:
“Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and the Dutch writer, psychiatrist and Utopist Frederik van Eeden (1860-1932) exchanged correspondence between 1913 and 1928, and met in Amsterdam in 1920. When Van Eeden discovered Tagore’s poetry in 1913, he experienced a feeling of profound recognition and went on to translate a considerable amount of Tagore’s poetic work into Dutch, starting with Gitanjali [Wijzangen]. Van Eeden’s translations became very popular in the Netherlands, also among composers.” [3]

Van Eeden’s father (the elder Frederick van Eeden) was in fact the co-founder of what later became the Tropenmuseum, established as the “Colonial Museum” in nearby Haarlem in 1864. The grand building in Amsterdam dates from 1923. [4]

 

[1] Learn more about Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Frederik van Eeden (1860-1932) and the spread of Tagore’s educational ideas through Noto Soeroto in “Tagore in The Netherlands” by Liesbeth Meyer:
www.parabaas.com/rabindranath/articles/pMeyer.html
(visited 14 March 2016)

Tagore with tambura - Sangeet Natak Centenary Number (New Delhi 1961)
“As Blind Minstrel in Phalguni” by Abanindranath Tagore (detail); title page, Sangeet Natak Centenary Number (New Delhi 1961)

[2] For the record: it is a well known fact that Tagore did not play any musical instrument other than the drone:

“I practiced my songs with my tamburā resting on my shoulder.” (My Boyhood Days, p. 38, Calcutta: Visva-Bharati 1997).

Later he was depicted as playing a similar string instrument, namely as a participant in his own music dramas (see the detail from Abanindranath Tagore’s painting reproduced here). So if you visit the exhibition and watch its audiovisual contents, kindly ignore this blunder by an over-enthusiastic museum team member. Here you may enjoy the rare and instructive media contents supplied by many contributors including the Embassy of India in The Hague.

[3] More information is found in the English Abstract by Rokus de Groot for his article titled “Van Eeden en Tagore. Ethiek en muziek” in Tijdschrift van de Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, D. 49ste, Afl. 2de (1999), pp. 98-147. The  abstract and article (in Dutch) are found here:
www.jstor.org

[4] In 1923 the building on the corner of Mauritskade and Linnaeusstraat was completed and the collections from Haarlem could be moved to Amsterdam. On 9 October 1926 Queen Wilhelmina officially opened the new Colonial Institute. The history of the Tropenmuseum is outlined here (in English):
www.geheugenvannederland.nl/?/en/instellingen/tropenmuseum

Tip

Listen to “Tagore: Unlocking Cages” from the series of podcasts by BBC 4 titled “Incarnations: India in 50 Lives”. Sunil Khilnani tells the story of the Bengali writer and thinker Rabindranath Tagore. The series is found here: http://bbc.in/1KVh4Cf

“This music was created by people with heart and intellect”: Remembering the Jewish refugee who composed the All India Radio caller tune

Naresh Fernandes

All India Radio’s caller tune has been heard by hundreds of millions of people since it was composed in 1936. Somewhat improbably, the melody, based on raga Shivaranjini, was composed by the Czech man in the middle of the trio pictured above:  Walter Kaufmann. He was the director of music at AIR and was one of the many Jewish refugees who found a haven in India from the Nazis. […]

Detailed accounts of the musician’s life in Mumbai are to be found in film scholar Amrit Gangar’s book The Music That Still Rings at Dawn, Every Dawn, as well as in Agata Schindler’s essay, “Walter Kaufmann: A Forgotten Genius”, in the volume Jewish Exile in India: 1933-1945. The musician’s reason for coming to India was simple: “I could easily get a visa,” Schindler quotes him as saying in one of his letters. […]

“As I knew that this music was created by people with heart and intellect, one could assume that many, in fact millions would be appreciating or in fact loving this music… I concluded that the fault was all mine and the right way would be to undertake a study tour to the place of its origin,” he wrote. […]

His study would be so intense, it would result in books such as The Ragas of North India, The Ragas of South India : A Catalogue of Scalar Material and Musical Notations of the Orient: Notational Systems of Continental, East, South and Central Asia. […]

Source: Remembering the Jewish refugee who composed the All India Radio caller tune
Address: http://scroll.in/article/685009/remembering-the-jewish-refugee-who-composed-the-all-india-radio-caller-tune
Date Visited: Sun Mar 13 2016 18:53:34 GMT+0100 (CET)

Continue reading ““This music was created by people with heart and intellect”: Remembering the Jewish refugee who composed the All India Radio caller tune”

Book tip: “You are the music: how music reveals what it means to be human”

Check a library near you for reading this well researched and highly readable book by  worldcat.org >>

Biography

Dr Victoria Williamson BSc, MA, PhD, FHEA

My research interests can be summarised by the term ‘Applied Music Psychology’. This means that I am keen to explore how music impacts on our behaviours, abilities, and brain responses, and to learn how we can best interact with music to support our activities in the real world. | Read more >>

Excerpt from an interview on NPR.org: On why earworms are interesting for researchers

“It’s an interesting everyday phenomenon. It happens to at least 90 percent of people once a week, [they] get a tune stuck in their head. And it’s a very effortless form of memory, so we’re not even trying, and this music comes into our head and repeats. And it’s very often very veridical, meaning it’s a very good representation of the original tune that we’re remembering.

“So my big hope is that that can tell us something about the automaticity of musical memory and its power as a tool for learning. So imagine if we could recall facts that we wanted as easily as we can bring new ones to mind without even trying.”

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/12/148460545/why-that-song-gets-stuck-in-your-head