Thursday, July 11, 2013

Monsoon Masti 2013 - Only In Mumbai

Monsoon Masti 2013
July 6 & 7 2013
Sandeepany Saadhanalay
Powai, Mumbai

A weekend workshop on Music and Rhythm

Enjoy the rains with music  was the theme and lo, did we enjoy the music along with the rains !!

We all, a group of 40 adults and 15 children, huddled together on a rainy Friday evening at the cosy Gita Mandir  looking to make some music, meet some friends and relax in the divine ashram of Swami Chinmayananda.

All the members who reached the divine foothills of the Jagadeeshwara Zone, left all their manifold commitments, burning issues, intricate situations
and found themselves ensconced in the comfort of the Powai Ashram, where there would spend two blissful days sitting at the feet of their gurus Pramodiniji and Himanshu Nandaji.

July 5th Friday Evening

We had a very creative ice breaking session this evening. We were formed groups and asked to make a song with the members’ names.
It was just amazing to watch the creativity of the adults and the children while participating in this session. It gave everyone a chance to come up front, to sing and at the same time introduce themselves.
Acquaintances were made, smiles and greetings (predominantly in the form of Hari Oms) were exchanged, and everyone went to sleep in the knowledge that we were indeed caught among a bunch of civilized individuals and tomorrow can only bring more good things.

July 6th Saturday

The camp was so carefully planned to give all that can be given, within a span of two days and to even give what was available to take, at the Ashram.
The early morning saw the vedic chanting of the brahmacharis at the temple.

And then came the hour long SRGM meditation with Pramodiniji which threw much needed guidance on how to treat music.
Concepts which were entirely new (to me ofcourse) like to respect music, every swara has a god, and to pray to Ma Saraswati for music to sit on your tongue,  were introduced in a meditative background.
We did some swara excersises and swara meditation, with Pramodiniji keeping us on our toes, to follow her, in between racing and slowing the notes.
And this produced the much needed giggles from our young participants whom we had feared had gone to sleep while meditating, and we all know how it is, one can never get enough of their giggles and gurgles.

After a sumptuous breakfast of south indian sevai, we were back to the Gita Mandir, this time to learn a bandish.
A bandish is a fixed, melodic composition in Hindustani vocal or instrumental music. It is set in a specific raga, performed with rhythmic accompaniment by a tabla or pakhavaj, a steady drone, and melodic accompaniment by a sarangi, violin or harmonium.

We went on to learn a couple of more bhajans. One of the bhajans was culled from the locals of Siddabhari and so fortunate were we to learn that bhajan, so soulful and inspiring.

Another song we learnt was a Hori. The hori  was haunting and melodic and soul searching, all at the same time.
A hori is a genre of semi-classical singing, popular in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It comes in the series of season songs, like Chaiti, Sawani and Kajari, and is traditionally sung in the villages and towns of Uttar Pradesh: around Banaras, Mirzapur, Mathura, Allahabad and the Bhojpur regions of Bihar.

Afternoon brought us a lovely lecture from Sri Himanshu Nanda ji. The lecture was almost a conversation with us and yet, so informative on his journey, journey of some of the great Hindustani artists and threw a lot of light on the teaching practices of his guru and maestro Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia. Several of us had questions on how Western Classical compares with ours, when is the right age to introduce the children to music and all of them were answered from a spiritual and philosophical standpoint that the whole atmosphere was made divine.

A few families had come for Garba Sanskar, to initiate the child into music while in the womb. Some others had brought children young as four, to skip and play and imbibe the magic of music at the same time.

This was followed by Garja Maharashtra Majha which left the most impact on the young and old singers alike. The two songs taught ‘Junzhu Munzhu Pahat Zhali’ and ‘Udalit Shat Kiraana’ were an instant hit and the non-Maharastrians had a lot of work to keep up with the syllables of the Marathi language.
Explanations were given, and the songs along with the language was also learnt. The kids had listened to the explanations of the verses so well, that when they presented the song, they reproduced all the said meanings by actions.

The night brought all the instruments alive producing a lot of delight and din among the children and elders.  We had all kinds of instruments going on. Ektara, Tabla, Violin, Flute, Manjira, Beadboxing, Drumming and Singing. You may ask from where we got all these instruments?
Acappella is a kind of orchestra, where the singers are accompanied by vocalists who produce the sounds of various instruments using their vocal chords.  

After which, there was much request for the campers to sing, and a couple of brave souls delighted us with their songs, wit and humour.

July 7th Sunday

The morning was welcomed with Pramodiniji introducing us to Thaats – the fundamentals of Hindustani music.  Through theory and melody, Pramodiniji engaged us and we listened with rapt attention to the beauty of Hindustani Music.
After a sumptuous breakfast of yet another south indian dish - uttappa, we were seated to clap to the rhythmic scale of Hindustani Music. This session was led by Himanshu Nanda ji . Charts and numbers were drawn to entice us into keeping with the beat.
The children were so good at it, that Himanshu Nandaji had his doubts whether the kids had already attended such sessions before.

After a break, we revised all the bhajans and songs we had learnt the day before.  Then it was time for practice. We all were divided into three groups and our task was to present on stage, one of the songs that had been taught.
Much discussions were held in my group as to which song to select, much discussions on the pronunciation of the Marathi song selected,and much discussion on introducing some trills and thrills into the song. After which point we reached a consensus and the practice began.
We enlisted the resident tabla expert to support us and Pratimadi was on the harmonium and thus we presented a lively version of Junzhu Munzhu Pahat Zhali’. Much to our surprise the children had also selected that song and the third group sung the bhajan sung by the pahadis of Siddhabari.

Thus our camp to our lovely end. Many were emotional about the opportunity to be in the midst of magic and music for two whole days, many were philosophical about how music can transform a person,  many others felt fortunate and the rest were just happy to have a great time.
We all went home contented in the knowledge that there would be more such camps organized by Chinmaya Naada Bindu (CNB) at regular intervals.

Very heartfelt and special thanks to the team at CNB comprising of Pramodiniji, Himanshu Nandaji, Vijayji, Rohitji, Shobaji, Jaylakshmiji and many more.


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