Lost Music, Lights and Colours

It’s Diwali: The festival of lights. The festival of crackers, earthen lamps, Rangoli, sweets, new clothes. The last day of the Hindu year. The festival of good finally winning over evil. You can read more about it here.

And there’s also cleaning. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yeah, every year before Diwali, all people clean their houses from top to bottom. They rid their lives of clutter and welcome the new year with a clean and fresh outlook. I think it’s a wonderful tradition! Because, the material clutter often leads to mental clutter.

Like each year, the stuff in the cupboards comes out, the drawers are emptied of unwanted knick-knacks and papers. Only the things that matter are retained. Which brings me to our own drawers.

All my family is fond of music. I’ve grown up listening to old Lata Mangeshkar songs and classical music and Ghazals. And of course, my dearest, Madan Mohan! It was because of my family that I developed a taste for old Hindi music, and they learnt to appreciate new age music with me.

We had a huge collection of cassettes; Mum’s Mohd. Rafi and Asha Bhosle songs collection, Papa’s Jagjit Singh albums, my nursery rhymes and fairy tales! Though I can’t say they loved my cassettes particularly (How often can a grown-up listen to Mary had a Little Lamb?), I grew to love their cassettes and music immensely.

Cassette

Well, times change. The age of digital music is here. So now it’s CDs (they’re getting old too, I know) and iTunes. And yes, it’s convenient and space-friendly and everything, but… But I sometimes miss the cassettes. And the fact that I had to listen to three boring songs before I got to the one that I really liked. (Using the Forward button too much spoilt the cassette). I remember we had a Philips tape-recorder-cum-cassette-player. And a walkman. And at least three pocket radios. And of course, the bigger radio. All of them have gone out of fashion and our home. We still have a stereo that can play cassettes apart from the CDs and the radio, but the cassette playing part doesn’t always work due to lack of use.

This Diwali, we also got rid of a major part of our cassette collection. We’ve retained some classic collections and I’ve been given the job of finding those songs in a digital format. End of an era for me!

I found another thing too.ย That’s my first brush with music playing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I, of course, then moved on to bigger and better things. We have a Harmonium and a mini keyboard too. The harmonium is my father’s; my Mum used to sing and sometimes play. (She still sings by the way; the past tense is for the playing). When I learnt singing, the harmonium was my companion too. Though I never formally learnt how to play the Harmonium or the keyboard, I could carry simple tunes. Still can, I believe. ๐Ÿ™‚

But we don’t. Not very often. With other things taking priority, the harmonium and the keyboard are packed away. But they’re treasures and we would never give them away.

I gave away the music set pictured above, though. Along with some more of my old toys; I can’t seem to be able to part with all of them at once and have to wait every year to give some. It’s difficult, isn’t it? To give away one’s childhood.ย For most things, I’m not that sentimental. I’m good at getting rid of unwanted things. I don’t normally get attached to them all that much. And I very much realise the importance of cleansing one’s life. But there are certain things for which I convince myself with difficulty.

But I digress. I haven’t yet told you about the part I enjoy a lot during Diwali: Rangoli making. It’s made of coloured sand, and flowers and anything really. You just need colours. Like a temporary mosaic on the floor. Here’s what mine looks like this year. I kept it small and simple.

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Another part that I love is the lighting of earthen lamps. There’s something about the diya flames, isn’t there?

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I hope everyone has a great Diwali and a wonderful year ahead. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life by Robert Spaethling

As a music lover, I suppose I’ve been too confined to one genre of music. The Hindi music is so vast that I never ventured outside. I’ll have to admit that present day English pop is something that I’ve never enjoyed. It focuses too much on the rhythms, while I enjoy soulful tunes. This is exactly the reason why I greatly enjoy Madan Mohan’s music; it has great melody and meaningful lyrics (although that’s not his contribution).

I’ve read indirectly of the great music legend, of course. “I swear it on Mozart’s head” was Ruth’s refrain in The Morning Gift. If you’ve ever read Eva Ibbotson’s works, you would know how much she focuses on music and the musical city of Vienna recurs in almost all of her books.

So, when I saw Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life by Robert Spaethling in our Resource Centre, I was just slightly intrigued. I’ve never been one to read biographies, and especially not about people that I have little or no knowledge of. But then again, I have a penchant for letters, and the title compelled me to pick it up.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's compositions charact...

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

What better than to hear things from the horse’s mouth! Even autobiographies tend to take on shades and hues; nobody is able to give a completely honest picture of one’s own life. Letters and diaries, on the other hand, are written without reserve, and are much more closer to the real person.

I didn’t have the chance to finish the entire book. I just read the first part : The Early Years (1769 – 1776).

That was the period when a young Wolfgang Mozart made various journeys to Italy, Vienna and Munich on account of his music. He was accompanied by his father Leopold. The letters are mostly addressed to his sister Nannerl and a few to his mother. It is evident that he was extremely fond of his sister and the two shared a very comfortable relationship.

The “wunderkind” was mischievous like any other child of his age. We have a tendency to disregard the childhoods of famed people. Forget them, it’s difficult to imagine anyone as a child if you know of them only as adults. Mozart was unapologetic about describing the inadequacies of other people, be it musicians or Royalty.

What pleased me the most was that Mozart appeared to be humble, and almost unaware of his genius. He referred to his successful operas in almost an offhand manner. Most of his conversations about music were practical; about writing the notes, copying papers and so on.

Being famous to the degree he was, Mozart’s letters, no doubt, generated a lot of scandal when published. Several biographers have attempted to tone down the language (which included a lot of profanities in German, Latin, Italian and French). This particular collection of letters, however, retains its original form. He played a lot of word games as well, which made for a colourful read.

Here are a few gems from his letters.

I don’t know anything new, except that Herr Gelehrt, the poet from Leipzig, died and after his deathe has written no more poetrie. (p. 7)

I kiss mama’s hand, and to my sister I send a smacker of a kiss and remains the same old – but who? – the same old buffoon. (p.9)

Write to me and don’t be so lazy. Otherwise, I shall have to give you a thrashing. What fun! I’ll break your head. (p.16)

The dances are miserably pompous[…]in the opera house, he always stands on a little stool so that he appears taller than the queen. (p.16)

We have the honor of being aquainted with a certain Domenican who is said to be holy. I myself am not convinced of it, becaus he often consumes for breakfast a cup of ciocolata, right after a big glas of strong spanish wine,[…] a whole plate full of birds, two full saucers of milk with lemon. Maybe there is some kind of plan behind it all, but I don’t think so, because for one thing it’s just too much, and for another, he takes quite a few morsels with him for an afternoon snack. (p.20)