Tag Archives: music

A Deaf Generation

A perfectly lovely place, with comfortable seats, sparse afternoon crowds, became a nightmare when they started blaring horrible, irksome and untasteful Christmas music. (I am particularly feeling murderous towards the person who composed “I saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus”)

 

It set me thinking about how musical tastes and genres have changed over eras and decades. I am not against popular music and culture, but I do believe that to some extent it’s turning us into a Deaf Generation.

A few weeks ago, I happened to come across a study which compared the dynamic levels of a pop song and a classical orchestra performance.

The pop song was “Bad Romance”. The classical orchestra performance was Wagner.

Not surprisingly, Bad Romance topped the Dynamics Chart with constant loudness throughout (only a slight dip near the end of the song), while Wagner had a much larger dynamic variation throughout the entire piece.

Imagine a generation growing up, with ears used to only the constant boom and bass of Bad Romances all over the world. They know nothing else. If something falls below the expected dynamic level, the question becomes: “Why so soft? Cannot hear!!”

Attention is cut off, immediately. A viscous cycle. Commercial places want to draw more crowds, so they play louder music. Music deemed “popular”. With strong bass. Fast.  Groove and rhythm. Catchy.

 

What happened to the beauty of softness? The contrast between dynamics? The beauty of straining our ears to catch that desired melody?

 

This doesn’t apply to ALL commercial places and people, of course. I’m just generalizing.

Thankfully, there are still people and places around which appreciate the finer qualities of the human soul.

 

 

 

 

 

A Yearly Treat

Every year, I look forward to the Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of the Arts.

Particularly when… there are Indian Flute recitals!

I love the sound of the bamboo flute. While the Chinese Dizi can sound rather sharp and shrill, and the music rather direct at times (not unlike the intonations of the Chinese Language), bamboo flutes just seem have this unique, mellow and lovely tone quality.

And the Indian RAGAS! They’re not just a scale or a permutation of notes, they’re virtually the life of the music. Changing the raga of a song isn’t like changing the scale or key of a song – it changes its entire Essence.

The previous Bamboo flute recitals I attended were all of a more classical nature – there’d be a solo flautist, of course, usually accompanied by a tabla player. Sometimes they’d have a Tambura player, sometimes a drone box – but that was about it.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped into the recital studio, and saw the widest array of instruments I did not expect! There was a synthesizer (attached to a MacBook, I might add), a grand piano, Mirdangam, Tabla, Violin, and the Western Flute in addition to his collection of Indian Flutes!

What followed was an amazing night of fusion and collaborative music. R&B, Soft Rock, Folk Song, Classical, and my favourite – JAZZ.

I was blown away.

(PS: Even if we may not be Real, I’d like to think the Music is >.<)

Baby Piano

And all too soon, the weekend is as good as over.

When I awake tomorrow morning, what little light that greets my eyes would be accompanied by a dominant feeling of inertia.

But we trudge on, with the comforting knowledge that another weekend will come soon.

A random visit to the Esplanade library led me to this concert, where children as young as 11 years old were playing pieces I only dreamt of playing at 18.

Looking at the throngs of nervous yet supportive parents and their performing kids, I could not help but compare them with the typical kid in my school – lacking in parental love, craving for attention, low self-esteem, and no motivation to do well. How many students have told me that they would love to learn the piano, but their parents / family can’t afford it?

General music lessons are as close to learning music as they’ll ever get, at least before they start earning a salary of their own.

If I continue to think this way, maybe I would continue to be motivated to do more for them.