Singing Aspects PART III


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Know The Aspects Of Singing PART III by Shashikant Sharma, Grand Rapids, MI USA



Let me tell you some interesting things this time. A story first.

Once a king was taking rest after hunting session and he got some awakening dreams. On his return he became speechless, as he listened to a rishi (saint) doing sadhana and praising lord. It was so heart felt that king stopped and begged to him,'pl. teach me this' Rishi said it is very difficult to teach to anyone, it is mystic and profound. King said 'I'm ready to do anything you say. I can give you anything you want. I'm ready to give up my kingdom as well and become a recluse.' Rishi said, I applaud you inclination, but it is actually other way around. You cannot get 'it' by becoming a recluse, but once you get 'it', you automatically become a recluse.

Such is the importance of our ancient music art. And why not, look around the globe, why is Indian music so popular in world music than any other country?

So far, we meditated upon evoking a swara say 'Sa'. Internally what are we doing, an exercise between mind, vocal mechanics and energy to think of seat for 'Sa' and invite him/her to sit upon it gracefully. How accurate you are in doing this, depends on the clarity in mind, creativity and perfect communication channel. Any obstruction will create disonance.

A healthy body responds quickly to creative call by mind and swara comes into reality. Flexibility ('loch') in vocal chords is very important alongwith accuracy. Because you may want to render an expressive emotion by going from Sa to Re or Ga in infinite possibilities. Imagine, singing with such perfection that calling a swara spontaneously, creates such a vibration field that they are personified and they start having conversation amongst themselves, dance to your tune, enjoy the ornamentations and decorations you provide. What a vivid picture! On the other hand same expression rendered without the accuracy and creativity leaves swaras as dead objects, lifeless and colourless. No richness.

According to the temperament of swaras they have been included or left out in the arrangement of a raga. Say 'Ga' is for hot season and suits raga Khamaj. 'ma' brings serenity in bhairav and malkauns but unpleasant in kalyan unless done carefully; similarly Pa is life in todi, but never invoked in malkauns, hindol.

So here comes the seating arrangement of swaras per ragas. (Later categorised into thaats by Pt. V. bhatkhande). Seating system in Yaman or Iman or Kalyan is {.Ni, Re, Ga, Re, Sa} or {.Ma, .Dha, .Ni, Re Sa}. Such simple melodic patterns remind one of raga Yaman. Thus ragas are defined-rules, or set of rules. Aroha should be such and such, avaroha should be such and such. kaN swara should be present. Sa Re Ga is not allowed, but .Ni Re Ga is. Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa. is not, but Ma, Dha, Ni Re. Sa. Ni, Dha, Ni, Dha, Pa, Ma, Dha, Pa is.

So what is happening here, a calling sequence for swaras is predefined. Meaning if one swara is called upon, other one is alerted to take the seat automatically.

Some ragas walk in straightlines, some walk back and forth. Some go one way but return other way.But important thing is keeping the spontaneity and flow smooth always. Melodic patterns often come and go as if questions and answers. We will deal with structural forms and techniques later, gradually.

Just the other day, I felt angry and tried to observe how fast the heart was beating. Same thing I observed when I felt deeply emotional. Again same thing, when I was very happy. Everytime, an expressive energy through vibrating medium. Blood gushing through veins, skin breathing, goos bumps in/out, everything in vibration. A sum total effect of these -> an expression of emotion.

More correctly, 'Rasa'. Can you touch it, smell it, view it, taste it? 'Bhav' is what you bring in to experience it. Classically there are 9.

1) Shringar - love, joy, happy

2) Karuna - sadness, longing, grief

3) Shanta - balance, tranquility

4) Vira - warrior like, noble

5) Adbhuta - wonder, surprise

6) Hasya - laughter, relax

7) Bhayanaka - fear, terror

8) Krodha - Anger

9) Vibhatsa – disgust


In order to emote these using ragas,a melodic pattern is carefully chosen and expanded slowly, gradually, moving from one pattern to another. The performer is often on another planet while doing this and express the 'rasa' as much as possible, because being in this world will cause obstructions for smooth flow of emotions by music. Imagine when you are in a real situation of Karuna rasa, your mind is not free to express but caught into various thought processes.

Acknowledgement

It’s my great pleasure to be able to pen down some thoughts in this periodical. It has only been possible due to great efforts by my mother, gurujan, my musical friends and family. – Shashi

coming soon: stay tuned for more on rasas, ragas and techniques, more on gayaki, vocal health…


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