Melody

Those Seekers

Short Feature

#NoWar
[Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay]

How powerful is a melody! A melody struck in the past, struck so beautifully that it broke free.

Timeless! A timeless piece of music rings true always; ten times truer in those moments when the courageous stand tall.

A single spark then is enough to change the narration. The narration that once appeared fixed and firm now burns and melts, making a new path, creating a new reality.

How powerful is a spark! A spark… perishable and yet unfading, tiny celebratory moments in embers, collected often by those seekers.

Those seekers who can also create a timeless melody… a timeless melody that even if buried under rubbles, surrounded by war cries, awaits the moment to be struck and break free once again.


Inspired by and dedicated to Irina Maniukina and all the wonderful seekers in Ukraine.

#NoWarPlease #standwithukraine #StopWarInUkraine


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Regina Spektor’s Musical World and the Ephemeral Moments of Joy – Part I

Coverage
Delicate dance anthem…
[Source – Pixabay]

Walking down the street with old heavy memories, frozen and hazy, not bothering for a while and the unknown liveliness of the fresh sounds greeting us from all around – the dripping thaw, the golden sunny warmth, the tiny twittering birds, the ‘oh my god’ honking of a dashing car’s ghost that passes by, the hearty smiles and laughter – we blush with hope teasing us, giving us bright ideas, gleaming as we experience our quiet, still mind-pond.

These ephemeral moments of joy, so true and innocent, are hard to capture, harder to sustain, probably that is what makes it so special for and loved by all.


Regina Spektor, the star singer, songwriter, musician, the starry-eyed star, the star magician, knows how to hold such moments very well. She doesn’t capture it, na-na, she only knits a pretty, sweet and soothing melody and then soaks it into such warm moments, letting the melody take this ephemeral colour.

To this colour, she adds free-play, emotions and her pianist-self and, voila, a Regina Spektor song wave is ready.

Listen to “Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don’t Leave Me)” before reading further –

*

…And down on Lexington they’re wearing
New shoes stuck to aging feet
And close their eyes and open
And they’ll recognize the aging street
And think about how things were right
When they were young and veins were tight
And if you are the ghost of Christmas Past
Then wont you stay the night?

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas…

Regina Spektor

She amalgamates it all so well, life’s experiences, cut both ways and so gently she allows herself to smile an honest smile. How beautifully this song captures time and lets it go.

And she loves Paris, especially when it rains there and so do we all (at least the rasiks* do).

Listen now to “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” –

*

…I’m walking through the city
Like a drunk, but not
With my slip showing a little
Like a drunk, but not
And I am one of your people
But the cars don’t stop…

Regina Spektor

This is nothing but a memory, cold, harsh, but funny in retrospect; one that glares until you glare back at it, acceptingly. And Regina Spektor handles this mixed emotion so peacefully and at the same very eagerly, probably eager for it to evolve.


Also, listen to the live performance of “Dance Anthem of the 80’s”, how sweetly she thanks her audience.

*

Here, at Chiming Stories, the blogger will be covering Regina Spektor’s musical world in the coming posts, trying to live and relish her songs in your company, so dear readers ‘ne me quitte pas mon chere’ (don’t leave me, my dear).


*A rasik, in Hindi language, is a passionate and thoughtful being.


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The Thousand Faces of Night – A Charcoal-Inked Raga

Book Review

The certainty of it being the night promises us of the erubescent dawn. It is an inky night, it has been for aeons and aeons… and, mind you, she uses charcoal-ink… for the stove is still burning, she never forgets to collect woods.

And so, with her inky fingers she writes messages, anecdotes, dead secrets and stolen dreams on the walls in the kitchen.

A custom followed since antiquity, now the charcoal-ink smells of these quiet cursive messages. It talks about the dark night and the breaking of the dawn.

Her inky fingers will turn red with the dawn.


But Sita needed all the strength she could muster to face the big trial awaiting her. After that, it was one straight path to a single goal, wifehood. The veena was a singularly jealous lover.

Then one morning, abruptly, without an inkling that the choice that was to change her life lurked so near, Sita gave up her love. She tore the strings off the wooden base, and let the blood dry on her fingers, to remind herself of her chosen path on the first difficult days of abstinence.

Githa Hariharan (Part Three; Chapter 1)

*

Painting of the Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi Varma.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) is written by the astounding Githa Hariharan. The novel is a melody sung and composed at night that captures the thousand faces of the moonless, starless night.

It narrates the many tales of Indian women – the celebrated mythical ones and the limited editions – with such excellence that the novel takes the shape of a woman carrying a heavy potli bag full of tales.

The tales, entangled badly, still echo well and dramatise their essence. The tales are spicy and heart wrenching and true.

*

Earthenware… they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries.
[Source – Pixabay]

Devi, Sita, Mayamma – daughter, mother, maid – kindle fire that burns time, others and themselves. And so powerful is this fire that life gathers around it to get some inspiration.

Delicate like earthenware, painted beautifully, allegedly breakable, they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries; you must have seen the pieces of such earthenware dug out from archaeological sites, displayed in a museum safely.

Their resilience never fails them even if it means to walk alone, against the tide, the familiar sunshine. Devi, the present, dares to break away, in her agility, eager to explore, moving away from Mayamma and Sita, the past.

Posing in front of the patriarch, they contribute to his legacy/magnificence. After foolishly spending a long time and suffering from backaches, Sita straightens up and Devi dodges the mockery, while Mayamma continues.

The patriarch sees Mayamma and smiles, Mayamma bows and cusses silently. She prays for Devi.

*

The new raga.
[Source – Pixabay]

After etching their charcoal-inked messages on the kitchen walls, the three ladies change the notation of their melody slightly, making the raga, still sung at night, fresher.

*

I must have, as I grew older, begun to see the fine cracks in the bridge my grandmother built between the stories I loved, and the less self-contained, more sordid stories I saw unfolding around me. The cracks I now see are no longer fine, they gape as if the glue that held them together was counterfeit in the first place. But the gap I now see is also a debt: I have to repair it to vindicate my beloved storyteller.

Githa Hariharan (Part One; Chapter 3)

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The Sweet Sound Waves

Sound is a sensation and a stimulus; reflected, refracted, and humbly attenuated by its medium, the sound wave propagates. Only the frequencies between 20 Hz and 20KHz comes in the hearing range of us humans.

Voices, calls, laughs, and whispers fill this range of ours, from morning to evening. We consider, approve, discard, ignore, and absorb it as and when we understand the hidden meaning.

Colourful message carrying sweet sound waves.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The hidden meaning…? Yes, the message that every sound wave carries is the hidden meaning, it shapes this very understanding of ours.

And what an exuberating elusive message a melody is, a wonderful wordless story that nevertheless is discernible, more than that in fact, as it touches and soothes our heart and soul.

Bansuri, a bamboo flute, taps a tune, using wind as the source and wind as the medium, carrying the message as far as possible, resonating beyond the visible, accepting all, conquering all.

Two and a half ample octaves and the bansuri deciphers happily the message using the Sargam (solfege); a subtle and soulful tune reads it to us.

Lord Krishna, the Jamun coloured Hindu deity with a peacock-feathered crown, is always depicted with a bansuri in his hands. Various stories tell us how Krishna, the charmer, used to mesmerise the listeners, stopping the time as if to unveil the beauty of the cosmic play.

The jamun coloured Krishna Flutist. [Source – 4art.com]

The leading character in several ancient Hindu religious, mythological and philosophical texts, Krishna plays his bansuri to win Radha’s heart, to celebrate the victory over evil, to turn impossible into possible and routinely for shepherding cows (he played a melodious tune on the bansuri and the herd of cows themselves returned to him).

Lord Krishna playing flute and shepherding cows along with his elder brother Balrama and friends. [Source – indiafacts]

Natya Shastra as well as the other Vedic texts associated art and music with the Supreme, calling it the spiritual means to rise above, concentrate on and connect to one’s consciousness, witness it and attain Moksha (enlightenment, release).

Why would one make a creative artist’s job tougher by leaving the great responsibility of enlightening the receiver on her? Let art be for art’s sake.

Right! But apart from just being true, pure art, what if say a tune played on a bansuri leaves a listener illumined, will this not add to the beauty of the melody? It absolutely will.

If it deciphers the message for the listener, showing her more than what is on the surface, by additionally doing absolutely nothing, then surely the message is intrinsic to the composition.

Wonderfully it all also depends on perception. Synesthesia is a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses, such as sight, thus, in such cases sound involuntarily evokes an experience of colour, shape, and movement.

Read what the first recorded case of synesthesia was about –

“The earliest recorded case of synesthesia is attributed to the Oxford University academic and philosopher John Locke, who, in 1690, made a report about a blind man who said he experienced the colour scarlet when he heard the sound of a trumpet.”

Wikipedia

And so everyone perceives it (the message, meaning, and life) differently, one feels, sees, and hears differently.

Vibrating air… that is what sound actually is; a sound wave cannot travel in the vacuum of space. Sound, an exclusive phenomenon on earth, then is indeed truly special.

And maybe that is why music is therapeutic in nature. It heals a troubled heart, it enlivens the mood, it calms a tired mind and often transcends the listener to a blissful state.

Instrumental musical compositions evoke for every individual a ‘thought’ within, yet to be uttered. The message it then delivers is always a favourable one, a high spirited one.

And a bamboo flute always keeps the message sweet, earthy and peaceful.  

Bansuri. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

Listen to the spellbinding bansuri notes (that acted as a catalyst for this post) played by the maestro, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia –

May it help you to be kind to yourself in these difficult times.


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