Music

Regina Spektor’s Musical World and the Assured Presence of the Antiquity – Part II

Coverage

Peh-peh-peh… a patina trumpeter plays for you.
[Source – Pixabay]

Our shadowy past lives, though hidden in the fog, it lives, and we live off it.

Ancient cities now archaeological sites, history books, paintings, literature, music and ideas remind us of the assured presence of antiquity, our link with what was the truth back then.

Like the tail of a shooting star, our past/ the antiquity makes an equally good show in the darkness, at times even a grand show.

Like a terrific shaman, the past predicts when approached with a true question and predicts without any regret.

Come, let us see, what it predicted when Regina Spektor approached it with some melodious queries.

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Listen to “All The Rowboats” before reading further –

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…First there’s lights out, then there’s lock-up
Masterpieces serving maximum sentences
It’s their own fault for being timeless
There’s a price to pay and a consequence
All the galleries, the museums
Here’s your ticket, welcome to the tombs
They’re just public mausoleums
The living dead fill every room

But the most special are the most lonely
God, I pity the violins
In glass coffins they keep coughing
They’ve forgotten, forgotten how to sing…

Regina Spektor

It seems the antiquity, through this song, shared a message for all those who are listening, which is that the past is not static, so no point in decorating and forgetting it; no point in generalising it and awarding it with a damp stamp.

Feel free to interpret it; relive the change.


Listen to “Samson”

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Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
He ate a slice of Wonder Bread
And went right back to bed
And the history books forgot about us
And the Bible didn’t mention us
And the Bible didn’t mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall…

Regina Spektor

Delilah, Samson’s lover, actually a spy, had his long hair cut one night, making him powerless; the Philistines captured Samson and tortured him brutally. Samson, blind and weak, still destroyed his enemies by magically regaining his strength. He died along with his enemies after he collapsed the temple of Dagon.

This biblical account doesn’t mention the infinite voices that made Samson, Samson and Delilah, Delilah. Culturally nourished biases have always restricted so many voices and the history books have often conveniently ignored it… until someone dares and explores and talks about the sweetest downfall.


Listen to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” –

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…I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps…

George Harrison

Regina Spektor covered this “Beatles” song for the film Kubo and the Two Strings (a must watch), magnifying the song’s impact so wonderfully. The antiquity becomes fully alive here; it reassures and promises the unfolding of another epic. It is pure magic!


Return in some time dear readers, and continue the tour of Regina Spektor’s musical world here at Chiming Stories.


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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 –

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…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” –

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…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.

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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.


Check out the full series here –

Regina Spektor’s Musical World and the Assured Presence of the Antiquity – Part II

Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Perceiving the Emotion Called Love – Part III

Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Addressing the Hero – Part IV

Regina Spektor’s Musical World, the Random Wise Talk and Creativity – Part V.

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Jasmine-Rich Raga

Coverage

White Jasmines.
[Image from Pixabay]

Like flowers threaded to form a sheet, woven intricately, the free white petals settling in a designed pattern, accepting the arrangement with joy, like an endless beaded wave of fragrant flower-colours, the ragas also weave intricately musical framework that evokes fragrant feelings in a quiet listener’s mind.

Just like the perfection-loving flowers – the humble sepal, the vibrant petal, the ambitious anther – the ragas too know how to bloom to perfection. Capturing the exact mood that exudes the season’s essence perfectly, the ragas effortlessly scent time making it beautifully appreciable.

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The scented time celebrates the raga – in Vilambit laya (slow tempo), Madhya laya (medium tempo), Drut laya (fast tempo) – accepting every melodic improvisation, evolving with each performance, never bothering with change, rather ushering it with consistent Riyaz (practice).

Overwhelming calculations keep the ragas free from vegetating and from the burden of the past that at times tries to confine its spirit, but almost always the spirit remembers to break free.

The many notations, the Swara, bring forth incessant improvisations, giving space to every emotional twist, forming an intricate, fragrant Mandala.

The ragas symbolise, like a flower threaded sheet, intricacies of life… and more.


Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Piya more haath mein mehndi lagi hai

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Mathe ki bindiya bikhar rahi hai

Apne hi haath laga ja balam

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

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(Translation – Disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ I have applied henna on my hands/ So come and disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ The bindiya too is spreading on my forehead/ Correct it for me with your own hands, dear beloved/ Disentangle my hair, dear beloved)

This Bandish* in raga Bihag decorates time with a jasmine-rich fragrant emotion that vehemently values love and life.


*Bindiya – a colourful dot mark worn between the eyebrows, especially by married Hindu women.

*Bandish – a composition in Hindustani classical music.


Listen to a melodious version of this bandish now.

*

A shorter version.

Complement this with another melodious post – Amir Khusrau and the Mustard Flowers


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O Apache!

One summer gleaming morning, back in the 90s, a musician woke up, looked at the world maze and its commuters when a rapturous beat filled his mind… it was a fusion, a fusion of ragga and bhangra beats… the musician knew it was the time to sweetly twist the great razzmatazz of the world maze drama.

And so Apache Indian, the British Indian singer and reggae DJ, mixing cultures, tunes and beliefs, London to India via Jamaica, created a new wave that danced its way into stiff-grumpy-busy society’s heart. His funky hybrid tracks spoke bluntly but always with the spirit to bring a change.

Staying true to its roots – the reggae music genre is known to attack social evils – Apache Indian tried to arrest some fanatic dogmas and set free our handicapped progress.

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“High caste low caste, we don’t want that,

Everyone equal, let us decide that.

High caste low caste, Sanu ni chahida (we don’t want that),

Saare jaane barabar (we are all equal), Maano rab da kehna (listen to the one God).”

Caste System – Apache Indian; Album – Nuff Vibes

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“Caste System”, “Arranged Marriage”, “Aids Warning”, “Election Crisis” are some tracks that talk about an era and some persistent crippling ideas, all composed in an upbeat style. The very vigorous sounds of bhangra beats give these songs a desi, identifiable and yet refreshing touch; the east and the west amalgamates beautifully.

Then the peppy catchy dance numbers like “Boom Shack-A-Lak”, “Chok There”, “Don Raja”, “Ragamuffin Girl”, “Jump Up”, and “Celebrate” call out to all the listeners to enjoy the moment.

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No.1 in a the Bombay chart
Indian me a tear them apart
When me come me bring a new stylee
So listen crowd of people and you have to follow me
Chok there – them a ball when they see the Indian
Chok there – raggamuffin under style and pattern
Chok there – when me come that a different fashion
First tune a say me do no it reach No.1
In a the reggae charts and the Indian
Chok there – see me face upon the television
Chok there – hear me voice pon the radio station
Promotor them a come them a rub off them hand
Keeping a session and them want it fe ram
Chok there – put me name pon the invitation
Chok there – pon the gate go raise a million
Me bring a brand new style upon the Island
Fe the black a fe white and a fe the Indian
So each and everyone come follow fashion

Chok there – dip your knee cork out you bottom
Chok there – everyone in a the Bhangra fashion
Nuff DJ them a have a fe them own stylee
Some a wa da dong deng same a come follar me
And some a them a say Oh Lord a mercy
Pnumina ick pnumina do and also in a three
But anytime me came me bring a brand stylee
So listen crowd of people and you have to follow me…


Chok There; Songwriters: Simon Duggal, Diamond Duggal, Steven Kapur aka Apache Indian; Album – No Reservations

Experimenting freely and successfully, Apache Indian collaborated with many artists worldwide, from Sean Paul, Maxi Priest, Shaggy, Boy George to A. R Rahman, Asha Bhosle, Bally Sagoo, SteroNation and Jazzy B.

True to his craft – music is all about innovation – Apache Indian continues to create fusion music, uniting converse genres, fostering harmony.

It was in the 90s, a summer dream that came true… not a super-sonic era, but moving towards one, grooving and listening to Apache Indian’s music… that was created with a hope, adding a little bit of this and that to ragamuffin magic, a hope to become better… a hope that is still alive.

O Apache, we are listening.


Some of Apache Indian’s popular tracks –







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Together We Enjoy Enjaami

Prose Poem

Kindly listen to the track before you start reading.

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Unabashedly bold and free, vivacious and ebullient, adamant like the silent stone, transforming every micro-second, Nature rules… and the ones living close to it celebrate and sing, enjaaee enjaami

Flowers shining bright, the rich yellow, orange, mahogany, red and white, the bugs, caterpillars and flies, the upside-down dancing struggling beetles, the sun-soaked green leaves, together – even when captured in a glorious painting – sing enjaaee enjaami…

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Rich yellow… shining bright.
[Image by AdelinaZw from Pixabay]

Whose is this land, this divided piece, this circled boundary, that 12 acres, that mango orchid, that dry-wet soil, that cool-cool well, that fragrance casting spell… certainly it doesn’t belong to the ones who toil round-the-clock and sing, enjaaee enjaami…

Festivities when unearthed by bare hands, the swaying harvest and booming lives of the lords, shacky mud-roofed huts full of laughs and cries… all sing enjaaee enjaami…

Grandmas and old voices together have knitted the folktales, passing it with pickles and homemade sweets, carrying it closer than a life lesson, breathing it day and night, walking and singing enjaaee enjaami…

Like a tree, like a giant tree, full of flowers, then fruits and seeds, then sweat and blood, patiently bowing, accepting it all… walks an old bent figure, bare feet, singing enjaaee enjaami…

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Turn around, don’t flee…
[Image by Couleur from Pixabay]

Jackals, parrots, elephants, reptiles, dogs, cats, butterflies… give their share back, turn around, don’t flee… those sitting on margins know Noah and the King, then who will ultimately sink? I sing enjaaee enjaami…

The fiery soul that burns itself, weeding the flower bed and burning the dead, it runs the life, it spins the earth, decorating the darkness, breathing lightly it sings enjaaee enjaami…

So how can you forget, threaten, betray, walk astray…? Come, not in repentance but acceptance for then your blinded eyes will see the majestic drama, lament if you must, cry and shed it before you sing enjaaee enjaamee…

So listen, listen to the storyteller, the old voice-heart beats well, this beat matches your beat and look, your mind watches you sing enjaaee enjaami…


Enjoy/ Enjaaee (my dear mother/ dear lady) Enjaami (my feudal lord, master) Vango Vango Onnagi (come together to reap the bounty of nature).

This wonderfully powerful Tamil song is sung by Dhee and rapper Arivu (who has also written it); the song revolves around Tamil migrants (and labourers and all our ancestors) who toiled on lands but always remained landless and suffered due to poverty; the song emphasises on how the earth, the nature is for all living beings and not for the wealthy class/ caste.

This thought-provoking, globally popular number, asks us blatantly to check if we are hurrying in the right direction.


Decode Enjoy Enjaami, read these articles –

What Arivu’s Enjoy Enjaami Tells Us About the Cultural Resistance to Caste

Enjoy Enjaami a tribute to Tamil plantation labour

Enjoy Enjaami – A welcome start, say Sri Lanka’s Malaiyaha Tamils

Enjoy Enjaami: Deconstructing the Politics Behind Arivu and Dhee’s Latest


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The Sweet Sound Waves

Commentary

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.

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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.

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

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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).

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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.  

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Bansuri. [Source – Wikipedia Commons]

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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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Dream Light

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent.
[Source – Wikipedia]

Keep your dream light on. When bright it reveals the Narnia world, takes you to Alice’s Wonderland, and introduces you to Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz. When dim it shows you the path that no one can see in the, hah, real world…

The real world of oh so beautiful Earth, the real world of oh so enchanting colours, the real world of oh so troubled minds, the real world of oh so trapped hearts.

So keep the lantern ready and walk towards the dream light. Tip toeing the wooden floor, tap dancing on the way, gliding on the sea, swirling high in the sky, however twisted maybe your turn, the lantern will keep on glowing, it will never betray you, even when you go blind.

How to select a lantern for such a trip? Always, write it down if you want, always choose the lantern that chimes, hums and whistles, after all music fuels dream lights.

On the lonely road towards your dream you will see things that you have never seen, meet djinns and dragons, flying carpets and cars, funny friends and foes and your doppelganger for sure.

And when you fall down, when your heart breaks, close your eyes, breathe and believe, you’ll then remember to follow your dream light.

So keep your dream light on forever.


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Lord Jagannath’s Eyes

Lord Jagannath by Vrindavan Das.
[Source – fineartamerica.com]

One eye says that the play is on.

The wheel of Time moves ceasing for none, winning over oceans, mountains, the sky, the wind and the fire.

People crowd to clench forms and beliefs, together they build and destroy. They wait to gauge for more and what is better.

Look now, how they shine, bright like fireflies, honest to the core; look now, how they lure, how they trick the tricksters, how they slay a man’s soul.

Speak not, for they are at work, cross-legged monks, meditating on what is less; speak not, for you will fail to express how chaotic is the chaos.

Rising high is the music of unity and harmony; falling face down is the corrupt, fake cry of every rigid mind.

Knowing the beginning, waiting for the end, it walks, it lingers, we walk, and we linger.  

Tala Pattachitra, Palm Leaf Painting – Odisha’s ancient art form.
[Source –
ethnicpaintings.com]

Second eye says that it is all absolute bliss.

There is no Space or Time and it binds none; the ultimate end and the ultimate start merges with the absolute existence.

Flowing in a silent music, dancing always, the ripple reaches the centre.

The Brahman breathes; formless, it is of the colour peace.    

Lord Jagannath’s eyes are the universe we see and the universe we can’t see. The happy devotee who bows, who worships, who sings, who gazes gets mesmerized by one of the universes, and by Lord Jagannath’s smile.

Our million eyes find a million revelations in Lord Jagannath’s eyes.

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Lord Jagannath, Lord of the Universe.
[Source – harekrsna.de]

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Incomplete

Flash Fiction
Open the window and smile.
[Source – Pixabay]

Chantal didn’t finish the story. After gazing through the few lines that she had written, her search for a known voice abandoned her.

She sat near the window, still holding her pen, playing with it in a steady rhythm, Chantal thought of something and rushed back to her seat. She wrote in her notebook–

It appears as if the joy within

Knows nothing about the war within

And vice-e-versa

Pausing for a moment, she then closed her notebook with a rough jerk. Chantal got up and walked back towards the window, this time leaving the pen behind, letting it rest on the table.

Her gait reflected her confused, unsure, restless state of mind. Chantal took a deep sigh and then without giving it a thought, wrote the word ‘Incomplete’ on the windowpane; a hazy layer of fog on it allowed her to.

Chantal’s eyes fell on something interesting, something which was moving towards her house, she smiled. Her hand poked her cheek as she pondered over the matter.

Suddenly, she opened the window and shouted, ‘Hi, how are you? It has been so long…’

A muffled voice replied, it made Chantal laugh heartily.

A smiling Chantal then closed the window and ran towards the door, opened it and left. Her footsteps on the wooden floor made a fine music.


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MUSIC In A Silent Way

Sweet sneakin’ melody!
[Image by Lucas from Pixabay]

Trumpet

The room was dimly lit, the colours were all crayon textured and old… they all easily submerged in it. More footsteps could be heard and voices… voices were telling each other tales only known as a secret before by some selected few. Voices were joking, but just for a while. Soon they were talking MUSIC.

Soprano saxophone and electric guitars

Rhythms were played verbally and details were given through gestures. People gathered around knew it was time… time to create. Like a charm, everyone flowed, everyone flowed and synced to reach the MUSIC.

Organ, double bass and drums

Time stopped to bask in the musical waves… the musical waves were powerful enough to capture time. It danced, yes, it did. The room stayed dimly-lit, crayon shades also didn’t change… the room and the colours were in awe like little children looking through a wire fence… even the floor swayed… in a silent way, everyone did.

Trumpet, soprano saxophone, electric guitars, organ, double bass and drums later reminded Time to move.


This post is dedicated to the studio album In A Silent Way by Miles Davis, listen to it now –


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