Just listened to a stunning piano concert by a Daniel Barenboim playing Beethoven's sonatas. I am very amazed how even one such long piece with the correct fingering, tempo and its complex melodies can be committed to memory. This artiste seems to be able to do so much.
.. is not learning the scales, like in Carnatic music. On a piano with 88 keys ranging 7 octaves, it is getting the fingering correct and understanding its written language.
Each key on the piano is assigned a letter of the alphabet from A to G and is represented by a symbol depending on whether you play with the right hand or left hand. As an aside, perhaps the hand signifies the pitch? This note must be played by the assigned finger. And this time, there are no keyboard shortcuts. The process goes:
Read time signature
Know whether left or right hand
Figure out what letter of the note
See the time signature - how long to play the note
Play it using correct finger on the correct hand
So far, the beginners' lessons have been a set of tiny songs, which are the rough equivalent of geethams - not all devotional - a piece from Beethoven's Ode to joy, Mary's boy child, Streets of London, Love me tender, Annie's song, Scarlet ribbons are some of the favourites so far. They all sound very Sankarabharanam. The very first exercise, however is to locate the middle C where both the thumbs can stake claim.
There is an element of puzzlement that turns to joy during lessons. Puzzlement that results in not knowing what tune to expect while reading the notation consisting of symbols with lovely names like time signatures on the stave, the bar, the clefs, the semibreve, the crotchet, the quaver. Joy, as the clumsy fingers fumble for the notes and disharmonious notes get slowly smoothed out, in discovering a beautiful tune unravel. Joy, knowing that musical literacy opens up a whole new world.
With much gratitude to lovely teacher Karen Nightingale and my online guru Andrew Furmanczyk.
The inertia of finding carnatic music on the net continues. Carnaticmusicians seems to be a site with an undiluted fascination for vidwan N. Vijay Siva's music and have catalogued musical milestones in his life since his childhood.
I have loved Sangeetham.com and continue to miss it on the web, inspite of the fact that there are so many carnatic music websites. There were features to look forward to - several scholarly articles, lively and intelligent discussion forums, rAga explanations, bAni appreciation, lyrics and meaning for the trimUrti's kritis, season analyses and its lighter moments..for those who remember.
But happily, I realise that I can go back the Internet's archives to savour Sangeetham all over again. Very coincidentally, as I think of DK Pattamal's music, I come across this article by a very articulate Sriram V in conversation with the musician during the Sangeetham.com days. Overwhelmed.