Fiddling Monk
You are the beginning and you are the end -
Hey Nada ( Musical sound)

To see you every second, every minute , every hour Inside me as an universal experience My eyes swells and my heart melts

You are Beyond physical boundaries Beyond meaning Beyond light and Beyond darkness

And to perceive you as The embodiment of sound and blessing

My eyes swells and my heart melts.

Many people have sung in praise of you Many people have walked in search of you In doing you so - they have managed to divide you as system, language , region etc.

You are beyond separation hence You are beyond unison You are the one and You are the many

You are the beginning and you are the end -

To see you inside me as that, My eyes swells and my heart melts

                                                  - fiddlingmonk 
                        Kumaresh Rajagopalan
The more aligned we are to the art form the more refined is the expression.
Saamagaana NOV 2018

Sruti Maata - Sruti is the mother. Mother is the basis of all creation and likewise - Sruti is the base for all musical creation.
Sruti is also the name given to the

Vedas - the ultimate aural experience. Vedas are mantras or sound vibrations which were heard by Rishis in their state of oneness with the universal energy and recorded aurally – they are not a visual medium. Sruti or Shruthi in Sanskrit means ‘that which is heard.’

Śrutis have been variously described as a revelation through anubhava (direct experience), or of primordial origins realized by ancient Rishis.

Sruti in music emphasises the importance of listening to the musical sound and understanding that within oneself and experiencing it as a musical melody. In simpler terms, it represents the harmonised sound of the tonic note along with the fifth (Sa and Pa) together. This is represented by the musical instrument - Tambura. When one starts to learn music - either Vocal or Instrument - the first step is to align your voice or instrument to the Sruti. The alignment is called -Layam- to be in Tamil it is referred to as - layichu irukkanum. Indian music primarily depends on Sruthi - the basic Swara (musical note). Sruthi by the way also means to ‘listen’. Focused nuanced listening – is meditative listening.

Our tradition insists on the concept of listening and interestingly there is no word equivalent to the English word ‘hearing’ in our language. (A non-concentrated form of listening where in the mind is elsewhere and one is only physically present where the sound is produced — most of us are in this state most of the times. Which tells us that people of yesteryears were capable of high level of concentration and were able to stay connected within for a long period of time. They did not need an external devise to register their knowledge and experience. They were able to remember what they learnt and experienced and hence that tradition did not believe in the concept of non- concentrated hearing and hence no word to identity that state of mind in the language. Our culture and tradition is aural based. We have always celebrate the concept of Advaitha and the formless hence the visual representation was always given less importance. It has always been

•   Mantra - sound, then 
•   Yantra - the visual representation and then 
•   Tantra - the technology.

Similarly, Music was passed on in this manner from generation to generation and hence we could see multiple ideas, interpretations, innovations in our art form. Also, listening helps in the experience of sound. Music is the embodiment of the formless energy and dimension. So, this alignment also helps in the discipline of the mind, which helps us in the understanding the significance of life and living. When we learn music, the concentration power of the human mind is increased multi-fold and the foundation for a thinking and creative mind is laid as the first step. Practising music helps in the multi-tasking of the human mind and body.

When we are singing or playing an instrument the mind has the following functions

•   To align to the tonic note

•   To sing/play with in the scale of the raga

•   To keep within the rhythmic cycle

•   To remember the lyrics, if one is a singer

•   To remember the melody if one is an instrumental player, etc.

•   So, at one go we as the practitioner

are able to multitask seamlessly and this increases the human possibility and optimises the potential of the mind and body. All this comes from the basic premise of ‘Sruthi’ - the basic musical note and the deeper philosophy of listening and aligning to the sound. This alignment is the basis for understanding the aesthetics and nuances of the art form.

The more aligned we are to the art form the more refined is the expression. So as always, in our traditional language and way of life, the word itself gives us the direction, process and the character of the subject:

Sruti establishes the art form as :

1) Aural tradition 
2) To be understood through the sound 
3) and is the most important component of the art form. So, let us all fine-tune and retune our senses - and be in alignment with the primordial Sruthi!!

Drops of Nectar -Fiddlingmonk

Music is the purest form of expression and so is God the purest form of impression
Knowledge and Experience of Music

Music is always a perceived phenomena. The familiarity of a sound goes a long way in experiencing the same . For instance , when we converse in a language that we are comfortable with , it is so much easier than trying to communicate through a language that is alien to us . Similarly when it comes to music, there is always an excitement among us when we listen to a familiar melodic line or a song than listening to an unknown and unfamiliar melodic line or a song . This is the direct example of how knowledge impacts the listening experience . In this context, songs with lyrics have a distinct edge over the musical melodic sound of pure musical notes, since they not only carry words as an easy recall value but the meaning , the philosophy or the narrative behind the words . This brings about a multi layered impact on the listening audience .Hence the charm of lyrics in the songs and the knowledge behind it helps in enjoying and digesting a musical performance . But there is an important question to be asked here - the joy of experiencing music in this context , is it of the lyrics , the meaning and philosophy behind the lyrics or is it the music and the experience of the sound underneath the lyrics. In most cases it the lyrics and the multi dimensional experience that comes with the reflection of the lyrics . It could be the philosophy , it could be the mere meaning of the lyric, or the memory recall trigged by the musical sound , so in most cases the joy of listening to music is not of the pure sound of music per say but that of many connected and other external components that use music as a tool to convey something . So, the knowledge of something other than music is at work in such circumstances . Is it or is it not the right way to enjoy music ? By knowing the lyrics , the name of the composer, the philosophy , the raga, the tala etc , this only enhances the listening experience isn’t !! Well let us examine the other possibility !

Knowledge alway hampers the experience. It brings the limitless possibilities in to a limited framework. If I listen to music , take for example a Kambodi raga alapana or a ~Todi raga Alapana, or any musical melody , for that matter without knowing the name of the raga or the system it comes from, name of the song, the name of the composer , the language of the lyrics, etc ,.Just pure music per say performed by a master artiste, the experience I feel, is most exciting and complete because that experience is something that is so personal to me , not related to anything but me and my being . It is not limited by the knowledge of this raga or that raga, or the suggestions of the lyrics as to what the composer is trying to convey, or by the context of the tala. It is just a pure limitless , free experience , that gives me the choice of digesting it the way I want . The experience could be Visual or Aural. I can form my own visuals of what ever as I hear and perceive the sound or I can get in to a totally formless state of mind of deep oneness with the sound which can be truly meditative . I could see different colours or I could experience multiple forms of ecstasy. A form of perception that is not bound by any external references but purely a celebration of my conscious, subconscious and unconscious reflection. Imagine the joy that one can experience in such a dimension.

In a way that musical experience brings one to a state of experiencing oneself . When I say experiencing oneself, it is about one being able to perceive one’s awareness consciously , unconsciously or Subconsciously .

It is like this - Music is Divine

Music is the original and natural reflection of Godliness

Music is the purest form of expression and so is
God the purest form of impression

If you can describe God so you can Music
If you cannot describe God so you cannot Music

Music is beyond the barrier of region, language , culture , religion and hence Limitless and so is God

God resides in every being and so does Music reflect in every being

God is the highest art and hence the highest form of worship and so is Music the highest form of art and hence the highest form of worship -

Music is a super phenomenal experience and so is God super a phenomenal experience.

God cannot be bound or perceived through Knowledge and So is Music.

Both are experience beyond the tangible and beyond comprehension of acquired assets.

The choice is ours. To enjoy music as knowledge or music as an experience . That is the beauty of our dharma. We are responsible for our choice and actions and not anybody else.

Hari Om

A land traditionally called as the Parasuramakshetram, Kerala is a true example of pluralism
A music called Kerala

By the time this article is printed and published am sure Kerala would already be bouncing back to normalcy. Our friends in Kerala have gone through a lot of hardships and heavy losses in terms of material, physical and emotional damage . No amount of soothing words or support can be considered enough at the present circumstance.. We all are together in our prayers to the people who have made that land “ Gods own country “,

My tryst with Gods Own Country is very special. Both my parents are from this wonderful land . I have been performing in this land since 1977 . Music runs in the very core of this land of multiplicity . A land traditionally called as the Parasuramakshetram, Kerala is a true example of pluralism . Though there are multiple cultural impressions and amalgamations, in the way of life ,the musical thought of this land has remained unchanged . Be it folk music , lullabies, film songs and of course the traditional music - the fragrance and taste of Karnatik music is visible in this land like no where else . The awareness among the Keralites for the sound of Karnatik music is like how bee gets attracted to honey in a flower . It is so natural for them to find their joy in the sound and essence of music of Raga and Tala . The way they understand and enjoy our music is an experience to behold . Their many art forms like Kadakali , Mohinataam, Theyyam , Padayani, Ottamthullal,
Pulikalli,Onapottan, Koodiyattam ( a 2000 year old Sanskrit traditional dance ) Thirayattam, Kummattikali , Chakyar Koothu,and Kalaripayattu ( a martial at form which is also considered as an art form). is a reflection of that phenomena

If we look at all the art forms of Kerala - we will see distinct flavour of rhythm and music closely connected to the sounds of Raga and Thala. Ragams like Kedaram, Arabhi, Anandabhairavai, Neelambari, Devagandhari etc and rhythmic cycles of Misra, Kanda and of course the cycle of 4 runs in the DNA of the various art forms of Kerala . They way they look at life itself as a musical experience is a big example to the outside community to look at life . The sounds are very powerful and yet the artistes and the audience are both subtle and expanded in understanding the dynamics of each other . A land meant for celebration - yes life is a big celebration for the people of Kerala .

From the Kalpathy Car festival, Thriusur Puram , Vaikathapan festival, Pungunnam Sri Rama Temple festival, NIshagandhi festival, Paiyannor Thurreyam festival by Swami Krishnananda Bharathiji , Of course Swati Tirunal festival at the Navaratri Mantapam in Trivandrum , Chemabai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar festival in Guruvayoor Temple and many more really many many more festivals, stand as a example to the interest and involvement of the people of Kerala in being part of the art and culture of the land ..

I have performed in Kerala under different circumstances and occasions and every single experience has enriched my experience of music and in turn my life .

The way they acknowledge your skill in elaborating a raga or a swara prasthara with a slight nod or by exclaiming the word ( Kollaam) or their disapproval with their unique sound by twisting their tongue - Yes the people of that state are unique in every way. The outside world may not necessarily be aware of some fantastic musicians of that land but for a very few who made it big because of their migration to more visible cities. Every village or district in Kerala have some kind of festival where in our traditional music and rhythm is celebrated in its full glory. From Palakkad to Trivandrum and Shoranur to Talapaady - the sound of music is fused with the pulse of the people and one can hear the sound of music in different form of their folk art . Yes, art is a way of life for the people of Kerala. As artistes, fans and admirers of this great land ,we send our prayers through our music for a very speedy recovery from this calamity and wish to see the land in its full glory once again .

Hari OM

Our land Bharatha - was and is named so because our ancestors perfected this art and many of us still do so .

Music is by far the most energised and optimised form of expression . It is the perfect reflection of unity and diversity . As a practitioner and performer - one feels the unification of one with the sound - Unity As a listener , the experience leaves each one with a unique yet different experiences - but the music is the same . For some it is Bhakthi, for some it is Bliss, for some it is technical , for some it is Mathematical etc …(Diversity ) There has been many scientific studies which goes on to prove that listening to Music helps in the optimisation of the human possibilities .

A musical mind is what one must aspire to have . To be that , one need not be a practitioner of the art . Being musical is a step upwards of being spiritual. Musical mind comprises of these very key elements . Bhava - Emotion, Attitude etc Raga - Colour, Identity, Thoughts , Expressions etc Tala. - rhythm, discipline , structure , etc .

The key to success is to find a balance in these three . Emotions with the right form of expression with in a structure will help live a balanced, successful and fulfilling life in every way . Our land Bharatha - was and is named so because our ancestors perfected this art and many of us still do so . Let us all strive to find this Musical mind and live a life filled with happiness and joy .