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Category Archives: classical

while the Sitar gently sings


A Sitar conjures up childhood memories of living-room soirées in India where someone would play to an entranced audience of family and friends. At the time I did not know that this ancient Indian instrument had already been introduced by George Harrison of The Beatles to a huge rock-n-roll fan base in the West.

My family moved to the US in the late 70s. I’ve heard the solemn riffs of The Sitar in many popular Western songs and attended classical Indian concerts where the Sitar played a key role. Last Friday, however, when Rob Myers of the Thievery Corporation plucked the strings at a live concert in Oakland, I felt an unanticipated resonance. Listening to the sounds at a rock concert connected me back to the childhood memories and to the distance I have traveled literally and figuratively.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in 60s music, classical, listening, memory, Sitar, sound

 

Violin Revolution


A man with gray hair looks at me as I walk by. Near him a group of young men stand around talking-nodding-smiling. The air is brisk and cold. It’s 10:30pm on a Monday, August in San Francisco. I plan to turn around soon and walk home.

As I pass by Revolution Cafe, I encounter the crowd spilling out on the sidewalk and the usual smell of cannabis. But there’s also a sharp and haunting sound which pierces through and rouses my curiosity. I walk up to the open door of the cafe where a packed room of people are concentrating on a group of musicians who are seated in the middle of the crowd: three men on violin, one man playing a base guitar and a fifth on clarinet.

Tempted by the music, I squeeze past the crowd to buy a sangria and find my way back again near the door. After playing musical chairs for about ten minutes, I find myself seated a foot away from one of the violin players. His hands move horizontally in a a wide arc. He’s half seated and half standing and moves his legs up and down as he plays. I keep an eye on his movements to make sure that I stay out of his way.

I can see the music sheets and the complex arrangement of music makes my head swim. I don’t recognize the music. It could be something by Beethoven. The adagio, a style of playing music slowly, soothes and relaxes.

I had decided to go on a walk to relax my agitated mind. The walk was good but the music adds a touch of enchantment that I carry with me as I leave after 3-4 more sets. I fall asleep easily when I come home to my bed.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in adagio, classical, listening, sound, violin