SA — How does it begin?

Woman playing cello with dove flying above

When one of my students asked me with big baffled eyes, “Music has theory?!”, that was the moment it struck me that I need to highlight the fact that music isn’t random harmonious sounds put together. And it definitely is not the case with Indian classical music. Indian classical music is based on profound theories and research conducted over thousands of years by a number of musicologists and artists. It has elements of physics, mathematics and logic. There is a reason why Indian classical music is called Shastriya Sangeet; Shastra means science and Sangeet is music (art). It is a beautiful amalgamation of the two.

Currently pursuing engineering, my pupil thought he had escaped formulas, theories and calculations and that learning music would be all fun and games. But to my student’s surprise (shock, to be precise) and my delight, he discovered that he has set out to imbibe the nuances and pursue an invaluable and gargantuan field of art that will not be all play and no work.

I don’t intend to scare or disinterest you with this piece of information but we have to acknowledge the fact that Indian classical music is a science as well as an art. Let’s understand in simple terms what we mean by art — it refers to skill sets that are unique to each individual, it is the creativity of our minds, it requires constant practise to be proficient, it is ruled by the individual’s enthusiasm, passion and inner drive. On the other hand, science is knowledge, the know-how, the technicalities, experiments and theories either based on assumptions or proof, work of the analytical half of the brain. A tick mark for each one of these with respect to ICM (Indian Classical Music). One cannot achieve excellence in ICM if he/she does not accept both these aspects. A singer or musician who can only present the technical aspects of ICM, will never be able to charm and make an audience fall in love with his/her music due to the lack of emotions and passion. Similarly, a singer or musician who only has a strong passion without any direction, discipline and understanding of the nitty-gritty, will have a very chaotic path of progress in music. Vidya and Kala go hand in hand.

In my previous article, I mentioned that ICM stimulates both sides of the brain. This statement is supported by the fact that it is both a science and an art. We use the analytical and emotional capacities of our brains while learning and performing Indian classical music.

I came across a very interesting picture about the union of these two fields, a Venn diagram of sorts, in which science and art merge to create wonder. And music is just that! It is a world of amazement and innovation, trial and error that leads to beautiful creations, the capacity to heal both mind and body, a meditative and blissful state of mind… in short, pure magic!

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Ashwini Narayangaonkar-Kamath
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Ashwini Narayangaonkar-Kamath

Ashwini Narayangaonkar-Kamath is the eleventh generation of her family to be dedicated to the ancient art form of Indian classical music. She has performed in India and abroad, has music albums to her credit and successfully runs her classical music academy all over Mumbai.