Monday, August 29, 2016

Streaming of a very different kind

Shiva dances, creating the world and destroying it, his large rhythms conjure up vast aeons of time, and his movements have a relentless magical power of incantation. Our European allegories are banal and pointless by comparison with these profound works, devoid of the trappings of symbolism, concentrating on the essential, the plastic.
Those words are from Jacob Epstein's Let there be sculpture. Purba Dhara (An Eastern Stream), which includes contemporary Carnatic music, takes place at 6:00pm today (Aug 29) in West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. The fourth chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā tells us in Sanskrit that Evam paramparā-prāptam, which translates as 'In this way, by handing from master to pupil, the knowledge is passed down'. It is then explained that sa kāleneha mahatā yogo nastah parantapa - 'However in the course of time this succession became broken'. In Vedānta a mantra is a vibrating sound with the potency to liberate the mind. This wide definition extends beyond the familiar chanted mantras to include any sound that can liberate the mind; so within this definition falls every masterwork of art music. But the Bhagavad-gītā then tells us that if the potent sound is not passed down through a recognized succession it will not be effective. Indian art music is the product of a line of oral transmission that originated in the Vedic texts, passed through the Imperial age of the Gupta dynasties in the fourth to sixth centuries CE and was then transmitted through generations of guilds of hereditary musicians to be experienced by 21st-century audiences like the one in Cambridge this evening. This brief overview of the Eastern stream is conflated from my posts 'Indian music is not an art, but life itself' and 'Classical music is backing the wrong kind of streaming'.

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