On Life and Love

Music in solitude

Music is so much better to me when I’m alone. When I can listen to it repeatedly and linger over the notes and mingling of rhythm and melody.

As soon as I say to someone (WO, Dre, whoever), “Hey, come listen to this!” I’m often immediately assailed with the feeling that this will be the longest song I’ve ever listened to. Every strange thing I loved (or hadn’t noticed up to now) will be glaringly loud and sound annoying as I put myself in the other listener’s shoes. I suddenly remember that so-and-so doesn’t like extended soprano singing (or something…), or notice the hilariously weird facial expression of this or that performer.

I’m better about it than I used to be. Part of it is discovering that the chances of other people liking weird shit is higher than I thought in high school. Still haven’t found anyone does more than tolerate music played on repeat for hours, alas.

Regardless, here’s a bit of Carnatic music that’s been keeping me company tonight. Listen while alone or share.

These gents rock my world. All three are beyond amazing, but the guy on the kanjira (G Harishankar, I believe) wins for me. The mridangam playing is hot, too; I’m minutely less a fan of the ghatam. I don’t know if this is an example of a Manamadurai ghatam, but the metallic striking sound in this video kind of messed with my head.


  • Dre

    You know I don’t listen to this kind of music often. For that reason I have to stop myself form trying to listen to it the same way I listen to music here. By that I mean trying to catch a rhythm, beat, or melody. I do wonder how they notate their music to ensure everyone is playing what should be played at the right time. For a while I thought the lady was conducting the band…was she?

  • Lissa

    Dre: She is! The palm tapping is setting the rhythm (the downbeats, I suppose). You should look up ragas (the melodic patterns) and talas (the rhythmic patterns) — it’s all very well documented and old (13th-15th century for Carnatic). My textbook says something about Indian music “typically” using 10 beats to a measure, but that doesn’t mean much; I still can’t count ’em off, and that doesn’t seem to apply to any degree of usefulness to Carnatic music. Maybe they mean filmi music. The complexity of the rhythms are what’s amazing to me.

    And note: no harmonies, really. Just melody and rhythm.