Jazz and Warren Senders

Sudarshan Sangeet Sabha in Pune had arranged a session on introduction to Jazz last weekend. This was one of the unique opportunities to get introduced to western music in general and Jazz in specific. I had written about the need of such sessions in Pune sometime back here. It was 39th edition of this Sudarshan Sangeet Sabha which is a novel initiative by Chaitanya Kunte to bring unique music appreciation sessions every other month for music and musicology aficionados. I have attended many of them. I also was fortunate to help arrange one such program related to Bilagi Sisters couple of years back.

The banner of the program said, “Most of the connoisseurs love to listen to Jazz music, but many of us really don’t ‘understand’ what Jazz is! Boston based Jazz and Hindustani musician Warren Senders in going to explain the musical nuances of Jazz in a special program ‘An introduction to Jazz music’. He will also describe the history and work of milestone Jazz musicians along with rendition of the music.”

I had heard of Warren Senders, as someone being very curious of Indian music, and who has learnt Hindustani classical music in Pune. He is one of many who has followed that passion. Another one I know of is Marcus Corbett of whom I have written here. The topic of this session was interesting, not only because it was going to be an introduction to western music form of Jazz, but also as Jazz is also known as another form of art music which has scope for improvisation like Indian classical music. I decided to attend the session and we witnessed, next 2 to 2.5 hours of he passionately talking history of Jazz, its comparison with Indian classical music with lec-dem style, interspersed with lot of listening opportunities. Below paragraph has some snippets of what he said and illustrated.

The history of Jazz is intriguing and defining Jazz is not easy. It all started in southern USA, around 1910, especially, around sea port area of New Orleans area in Louisiana. And this history is very much part of history of black people in USA. He touched upon topics such as how it came to being, what instruments are used and why. The various cultural underpinnings which exist in Jazz since beginning, the amalgamation of various musical aspects is very interesting to understand. It was also interesting to understand how situations like war, commercial activities near sea ports can have deep impact on art forms. Cultural intermix, language intermix, ethnic intermix creates huge possibilities of different dimension, in various walks of life including art. The same thing happened here. New Orleans had free black community, French Creole, white population. Spanish-American war brought gang of military people, especially, military band folks, to ports of New Orleans. Each of them brought their own music, their instruments, and most importantly their rhythms. This became melting pot for exchange and invention in the music.

It sounded me more like evolution of Urdu language which took way back in 12-13th century.  Warren being trained Indian classical musician, also one who teaches that to western audiences, it was natural for him to compare Jazz and Indian classical music. This also was prompted, due to obvious questions from the audience, in this regard. Warren also freely shared his observations and nuances of similarities and differences. I mention some of them here: Complex/Profound lyrics does not help improvisation; Art music is building various rhythmic patterns over time; Loosing track of rhythm and constant error correction is essence of any art music; The improvisation should be able to tell the story, Jazz brings in sound of surprise, Structure of Hindustani classical music is termed as EDIOT-Event Density Increasing Over Time.

The later part of session had lots of Q&A which he patiently answered. One of my favorites which I learnt was that unlike Indian classical music, Jazz can start with fast tempo and slow down towards end.  All in all, it was very interesting for me to understand various musicological aspects of both Jazz and also Indian classical music from someone who is not native Indian. I badly wanted to attend his next day’s concert of Warren in the city, which would have allowed me to witness his rendition of ragas. That would have been wonderful to witness!

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कर्नाटकातील भाषा

कर्नाटकातील भाषा? म्हणजे काय? कन्नड किंवा कानडी. त्यावर काय ब्लॉग लिहायचा असा प्रश्न पडला असेल. काही वर्षापूर्वी राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार मिळालेला कर्नाटकातील चित्रपट हा कन्नड भाषेत नव्हता तर तेथील ब्यारी(Byari or Beary) नावाच्या भाषेत होता. अशी काही भाषा कर्नाटकात आहे, ह्याचा मला पत्ताच नव्हता. एक हिंदी म्हण तर सुप्रसिद्धच आहे-कोस-कोस पर बदले पानी, चार कोस पर वाणी. वेगवेगळया भागात भाषा वेगळी होत जाते. बंगळूरू, मैसूरकडील भाषा प्रमाण कन्नड भाषा, जसे की पुण्याची मराठी. मी जी कन्नड भाषा घरी बोलतो, ती बिजापूर(आताचे विजयपूर) कडील, जी उर्दू मिश्रित आहे, कारण सरळ आहे-आदिलशाही प्रभावामुळे. तीच गोष्ट गुलबर्गा, बिदरकडील भाषा, त्यात जसे उर्दूचा प्रभाव आहे, तसेच तेलुगुचाही आहे. हुबळी, धारवाडची कन्नड भाषा रांगडी(पुरुषी) भाषा असे समजले जाते!

ब्यारी ही भाषा कर्नाटकाच्या दक्षिणेकडे, केरळला लागून जो प्रदेश आहे, तेथे एक विशिष्ट जनसमुदाय आहे, त्यांची ती भाषा. कोडूगु, मडिकेरी भागातील भाषा तुळू. करावळी(म्हणजे किनाऱ्यावरील भाग, कोकण) तेथील भाषा कोकणी मिश्रित कन्नड आहे. बेळगावी(पूर्वीचे बेळगाव) कडील भाषा मराठी प्रभावित आहे. तसेच काही विशिष्ट समाजाची कन्नड भाषा, ऐकताना अगदी वेगळी वाटते. उदा. कर्नाटकातील कुरुबू समाज-म्हणजे धनगर समाज. त्यांची भाषा, त्यांची लोकगीतं, अतिशय वेगळ्या उच्चाराचे, आणि धाटणीचे असतात. चंद्रशेखर कांबार  यांच्या नाटकातून मी हे अनुभवलेले आहे. तसेच यक्षगान या नृत्य-गायन प्रकारात तुळू आणि इतर कन्नड बोलीभाषा वापरल्या जातात. कुंदापूर भागातील वेगळ्या कन्नड बोली भाषेचा अनुभव मी एका दूरचित्रवाणीवर पाहिलेल्या एका चित्रपटाच्या द्वारे घेतला.

कन्नड भाषेचा इतिहास पहिला तर असे दिसेल की भाषेचे संक्रमण होत गेले आहे, आणि तिला विविध काळात वेग-वेगळी नावे आहेत, जसे-हळेगन्नड. पण ते ग्रांथिक भाषेच्या संदर्भात जास्त खरे आहे. हुबळी धारवाड, बिजापूर वगैरे ठिकाणहून जेव्हा लोक मैसूर, बंगळूरूला जातात, तेव्हा भाषेवरून गमती जमती होतात. पुण्यातदेखील हा प्रकार दिसतो, तसाच. कन्नड नाटकात, चित्रपटातून, ह्या वेगवेगळया लकबी, बहुतेक करून, हास्य-निर्मितीसाठी वापरली जाते. सीमा-भागात, म्हणजे, महाराष्ट्रालागून असलेला भाग, तसेच आंध्रप्रदेशला लागून असलेला भाग, येथील भाषा साहजिकच त्या त्या राज्याच्या भाषेबरोबर मिसळली गेली आहे. हे अगदी प्रकर्षाने पदोपदी दिसते. आंध्राला लागून असलेला गुलबर्गा वगैरे भागात तर उर्दूचा इतका प्रभाव होता, की स्वातंत्र्यापूर्वी उर्दू भाषेतच शिक्षण होते. तसेच चामराजनगर भागातील बोली भाषा तमिळ भाषेने प्रभावित झाली आहे, कारण तो भाग तमिळनाडूशी जोडून आहे.

हे सर्व आता लिहायायचे कारण म्हणजे, काही दिवसांपूर्वी माझे मित्र आणि कर्नाटकातील सुप्रसिद्ध लेख्हक रहमत तरीकेरी यांची भेट. ते गेले होते गुजरातमधील दांडी येथे, प्रसिद्ध भाषातज्ञ गणेश देवी(Ganesh Devy) आणि इतरांनी जी दक्षिणायन नावाची चळवळ सुरु केली आहे त्यात भाग घ्यायला. परत जाताना, पुण्यात त्यांचा मुक्काम होता, त्यावेळेस झालेल्या भेटीदरम्यान त्यांच्या बडोदा भेटी आणि भाषेच्या वैविध्याबद्दल बोलत होतो. येथे मी कर्नाटकातील भाषेबद्दल मुद्दाम मराठीत लिहिले, कारण कन्नड आणि मराठी यांच्यात आधीपासून देवाणघेवाण चालू आहे. आणखीन एक औचित्य म्हणजे, आज(फेब्रुवरी २०) आंतरराष्ट्रीय मातृभाषा दिन आहे. इतर भारतीय भाषांबद्दल, त्यांच्यात असलेल्या वैविध्याबदल देखील असे लिहिता येयील.

Learning Urdu Language(اردو زبان)

I being a polyglot, I like languages, scripts. During my Indology course, I learnt even ancient script Bramhi. Because of my education and profession, which is related to computers, I learnt quite a few computer programming languages as well in the past.  I also got exposed to languages and use in computers more when I was involved in localization for software systems. Due to that, and also mainly my exposure to languages such as Urdu(which has right to left script), because of trekking to forts in Sahyadri, I wished to know more and learn Urdu, Persian and even Arabic. One can find many inscriptions in these right-to-left scripts on the forts, I was left wondering as to what would their content be, due to lack of knowledge of those scripts.

My opportunity to learn Urdu came by in 2009, when I learnt about Urdu diploma program which is run by NCPUL(National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, under Government of India). They have tied up with various Urdu schools all over in the country to run this special program which is open to anyone, and the program is highly subsidized. Plus they provide all the course material which includes 4-5 books. I enrolled myself into it that year and whole new world of this language, script, literature, its influence, role in the history opened in front of me.

I wanted to write this blog mainly to let my readers know that if you want to have opportunity to learn it, the course would begin soon in year 2016. The registration will soon be open. Watch out for an ad which appears in the newspapers later in December for more information. You can get more details on their website too. Let me give you brief details of this course and what all you can expect.

The course, of course, begins with Urdu script. The detailed explanation of various rules associated with reading and writing, with help of practice books is provided. Introduction to words, simpler to complex is provided. The nuances of language is further introduced with help of book containing reading material. During the course, student is also introduced to influence of Arabic, Persian and even Hindi words to the language. As it is well known fact that Urdu developed during 13th century in Deccan, by borrowing words from different languages which army-men spoke. Urdu poetry, such as ghazals, is also introduced. Ghazals are hugely popular in India, and many students come to this course have background of ghazals. The course ends with an easy examination at the end of year. The lectures are conducted twice a week, for about 3 hours each time, and one can attend one of the two days.The course material consists of following books:

  1. Urdu for All(introduction to Urdu script)
  2. Ibtedai Urdu(preliminary reading material)
  3. Assan Urdu Shayari(poetry)
  4. Intekhab-e-Nasr-e-Urdu(essays, advanced reading material)

To me the key thing was script. We generally are familiar with many Urdu words due to its closeness to Hindi, and also due to wide use of it in movies. I am, of course, no Urdu expert, and have a long way to go in ability to read fast, also decipher variants of scripts, and writing. I am on it though, slowly and steadily! Google Language Bar also provides Urdu as a choice for input, that makes it easy while typing on computers, but writing on piece of paper is always a joy.

Madhosh Bilgrami

Does anyone know who Nawab Madhosh Bilgrami is or remember him?

In Sept 2014, my friend Nandin Sareen(who is singer, and also has started ‘Madhugandharv’ organization for spreading music) invited me to accompany him, along with other folks, on one of the Sundays to Talegaon(a town near Pune) to be part of Urdu shaayari mehefil. Little I knew that time, that I was visiting Madhosh’ home.

Madhosh, himself accomplished Urdu shaayar, has not only written independent shaayaris, but also written songs and scripts for Hindi movies. Some of the films he has been part of are, Chakra(Smita Patil was in the lead role there), Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Jaano Bhi Do Yaron. I was taken back by surprise to see him living alone in this remote town during his old age. He is now above 75, and needs to use wheel chair.

During his younger days, with family

During his younger days, with family

As of today, in his old age.

As of today, in his old age.

I feel documenting his life story, his contribution to Urdu shaayari, Hindi movies needs to take place sooner than later. We spent about 3-4 hours with him, during which he rendered various shaayaris, shared his experiences with film industry, co-stars, personalities. It was very interesting conversation with him to understand, in no way fully, his life and his contribution. We had not planned any interview hence did not prepare any questions before hand. Nandin’s main agenda was to have him talk about his shaayari. But as we started interacting with him, it became clear to my mind that we need to record some biographical details on him, hence started quizzing him on those, which he was not very keen to talk about. He was born in royal Nawab family in Hyderabad. He studied Psychology from Aligarh Muslim University. He came to Mumbai in 1962 where he did masters ans PhD in Political Science. Later joined FTII in Pune and studied script writing and direction there for some time, later he assisted Zul Vilani for 3 years. He has been influenced by Communist philosophy, traveled to then USSR, studied Russian language also. We noticed posters on stalwarts of Marxism(such as Che Guevara) on the walls of his home. He also claimed himself as former Naxalite, also mentioned he had written song on Naxalbari. Anthologies of his shaayaris have been published in the form of some books such as Fasale, Silsile etc.

Lastly, the vigor and desire to accomplish still was very evident his conversation. He expressed desire to produce film based on Jaywant Dalvi’s novel Kaal Chakra, script for which is ready.