Make Good Music with Shankar Tucker via Kickstarter

And no, it does not involve learning an instrument, practicing it for 10,000 hours and being visited by the muses. Just support Shankar Tucker via Kickstarter!

Before we get to the how, do sample what sort of music am talking about here.

“Jaane Kaise” – Shankar Tucker ft. Shashwat Singh (A Cappella)

“Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo” – Shankar Tucker ft. Rohini Ravada


So if that appeals to your musical sensibilities, there is awesome news for you..Shankar Tucker, a musician from the US, trained in Western Classical and Indian Musical styles has launched a Kickstarter project. Below is the introduction.

Am going to support this project.

Shanker via his Shrutibox YouTube channel has given me untold amount of joy and I sincerely hope with our support he can make this project happen. Visit the Kickstarter project and sponsor his effort, we need people like him to bring out more India inspired music out.

And am curious to know which of Shankar’s songs are your favorites. This rendition of Bharatiyar’s song, or this one completely move me.

Creativity and Collaboration – Kanye West Style

Found this coverage of a Kanye West recording session of his latest album, via Kottke. Not sure if it’s the take of a fan-boy but definitely seems intriguing. A small quote from one of the participants..

My favorite thing about Kanye is he just doesn’t quit. He does not quit on a song. Sometimes in pop music, there’s so much clutter and so many people trying to do something that’s gonna get on the radio or whatever, but he’s truly about approaching the song and finishing it and doing the coolest possible thing that he wants to express. He’s not just a rapper. He’s not just a producer. He’s a musician. He’s a true artist in every sense. Every part of his expression, from his clothes to everything, is a part of how he lives his life, and I think that’s why he’s so successful. I would show him what I did and he would come back and be like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome.’ Or, ‘Oh, that’s not cool.’ And we would just work on it—there was no ego involved, it was just what’s best for the song.

What comes out is the collaborative nature of the creative process, the feedback loop that feeds the next iteration, the perseverance, the openness to critical appraisal, the trust that seems to exist between the team..all of this built upon a foundation of honesty.

As I said at the start, it could be a fan-boy’s view but at that level of public scrutiny every chink in the armor would be a gaping wound attracting unwanted attention.

Also, our blinkered view sets up stereotypes that are hard to look beyond. Perhaps the rapper and his bling bling are more virtuous than the suave banker siphoning off what is not his.

Update: Fixed typo in Kanye West’s name.

Mind or Heart

What is it within a individual that creates music, the mind or heart? I have been listening to the soundtrack of the Fountain again, covered in an earlier post, and what an experience!

How does one translate emotion into a musical note?! This cannot be skill! Perhaps training can add structure and discipline to the endeavor but in principle I think this must be an activity that transcends the mind.

I used to write poetry quite some time ago and distinctly remember the time when the best lines came out. They were like utterances rather than something one deliberately thought about and wrote. This has to be a branch of alchemy, the ability to take mere thought and emotion and transmute it into music!

To all the musicians out there, of every genre , of every time past and time yet to come, of every culture and nomination…a big thank you…

And most of all my gratitude goes out to Him/Her who makes all this possible.

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How many lullabies…

My headphones were left back in India. Just a couple of weeks methought and time would fly past. But the mind, conjurer of phantasms where none exist, insisted on putting up a show!

And I needed my music, the laptop speakers are no substitute. Vivek, a friend of mine, wanted a Sennheiser PXC 250 and so I got one. I unwrapped it and started giving it a spin.

I started with the soundtrack of “The Red Violin“, the track called “The Monastery”. For those of you who have not watched this movie – Its about a master violin maker’s last piece of craftsmanship that has a dark character to it. This violin, red in color, finds its way across distant lands and many centuries, changing hands all along. Yet through all it one aspect of it is always consistent, its ability to leave a trail of destruction wherever it goes. The particular number is when the violin is brought to a monastery and handed to a little prodigy. What a rush, I feel as if little particles of joy have coursed through the pathways of my mind, seeking out every nook and cranny to lodge themselves there. The Sennheiser sang!

And then it was time for soundtrack of “The Fountain“, the track “Death Is The Road To Awe”. If you think the song title is poetic, you have not heard anything yet…what music. It starts with a fairly innocent pulses from a piano, a sombre violin forming the backdrop..out from somewhere comes a slightly pitched violin, like a darker streak of color on a fairly mild canvas, stark in its contrast..and so it goes..another violin, lots of stringed bass instruments..and instruments I know nothing about..all of anguish wearing all of its faces and coming out in a procession. Beautiful. My way with words do not do it justice.

And then onto “The last of the Mohicans“, the track called “Promentory”, the main strain that is played in the movie in the background. What an opening, I could see Daniel Day Lewis running through the jungle chasing the opposing indian tribe taking away one of the Munro sisters. The rush and the sense of impending doom, the anticipation…its all there…And then onto the “Massacre canoes”, a track that seems inspired by Carmina Burna. The grand pounding rhythm of the original, perhaps somewhat diluted, but still there in essence.

I feel as if I have taken a balm for an ache that I did not know existed.

Music, it seems to me, is the lullaby for the frayed heart of every man. A man who seems unable to grow beyond the first meaningless murmurs that he heard as an infant. And so we return, young and old and every variation in between to the teats of the Infinite Mother, to receive a little nourishment and a few healing words.

Oh I just loved the headphones, worth every penny! And I have not even switched on the noise cancellation! 🙂

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Die Hard 4 and Beethoven

Definitely not something that should ever be in the same sentence or a paragraph. Matter of fact they are not even from the same continent!

But was just watching the trailer of Die Hard 4 and heard the bars of “Ode to Joy” on an electric guitar, or whatever instrument it is! For the love of god what a rendition, what joy! What a start to an otherwise lackluster day!

I have often wondered what is eternal, can anything be eternal, what its characteristics would be, will it give you joy or grief, will it be relevant and alive across all time, all cultures and other assorted states of being that life is subjected to! And this is proof that all that is good and beautiful can and should be eternal. In a medium that almost seems like magic, on an instrument that the original author might have shuddered to approach, almost 200 years later, from an alien culture and still how it translates…:-)

Sabdam Brahma, Sound is God, says the Veda and even with a rational mind one would have to agree. Sound indeed is God and for all that I know, I just heard him.