Monday, January 02, 2006

Art forms...

From the Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya archives, posted on March 05,2005

Well, I had been to an International talent show and dress parade event today. Was a silent witness to the culture, tradition, art forms of exotic countries like Peru, Columbia, Mexico, Indonesia, India, Turkey, Africa, Philippines, China, Japan, etc. Well, every citizen of a country, now an alien in the US seemed to connect really really well with his country. The strong patriotism and an overwhelming feeling of love for his/her motherland seemed inevitable. Does this hurt those advocates of global citizenship?

I couldn't help making these observations.

-- Most Latin Dance forms are a pot-pourri of the African influence of rhythm and the inevitable lyricization in the European language (Spanish/Portuguese) with the indigenous Indian melody . The universality of this is there.. but nevertheless the influence of the African slaves and the European imperialists is clearly clearly there. So, the originality has been lost in the process, leading to something new.

-- Turkey, a country that has a diverse population and is a melting pot of cultures - is in a dichotomic state of belief. While one half believes it is a part of Europe, the other half believes it is a part of Asia. The influence of Europe is evident.

So, is it wrong to be influenced by other forms? Well, coercion is never justifiable. The influence should come from the personal embrace of a form that interests us.

-- Well, Africa, the dark continent seemed to have been of a great influence to many other dance forms and music styles. The contemporary jazz in the US, considered to be one of the originals of America, has its roots in Africa. African slaves came up with jazz, in their effort to duplicate or replicate Western Classical Music by hearing. Mistakes and re-inventing the wheel has lead to this creation of a totally, new yet wonderful art form.

-- India.. what can I say about thou? It was a great comfort that Indians resisted the influence of the British when it came to their art forms. Agreed that Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati are a few of those Indo-European languages, nevertheless, they managed to clearly evade the European influence post 15th century. Carnatic Music is as pure as it can be - a tradition that has been preserved and passed on from generation to generation, thanks to the guru-shishya school of thought. Hindustani Music, has Persian and Arabic influences, but is also as Indian as it can be. The Indian art styles, dress forms, traditions, way of life, etc. have stood the test of their times, even when most of the country was in a state of complete turmoil with internal bickerings and absence of unity.

When things are clearly indicative of the greatness of the Indian schools of Art (not that the other forms are not great) , why is it that these so-called modern Indians take great pleasure in denigrating these jewels, that are very well their own. They have every reason to be passionate about them. This is not to mean that we need to be narrow-minded appreciating only what we claim is ours and be blinded to the other wonderful forms. Reaching out to the others does wonders to your outlook and way of life, but that shouldnt be at the cost of what is clearly ours.

From personal experience, Bengalis are really really passionate about their culture, art and heritage. But, their overwhelming zeal, sometimes, translates to narrow-mindedness and love for only the Bengali side. With regards to carnatic music, sadly, there are a few people who tend to view the songs on a regional basis. Well, most of the songs are in Telugu and Kannada. Some people find it difficult to digest this truth. How many of us Indians, are truly passionate of Indian music? Present day generation has no qualms paying fortunes for a Rock/Pop concert but when it comes to traditional Indian concerts, they start cribbing. And the copyright laws is also an area of concern where hypocrisy happens to be a way of life. People are really careful of the copyright laws when it comes to anything Western, but when it comes to anything Indian, no one bothers!

Well, be passionate of what is in your house, be appreciative of what is in your neighbour's house, be truly open-minded and see the beauty in almost everything. We have nothing to lose.

1.Well, maligning any particular community or country or race was never the intention. I look at it from an art lover's point of view. Expressions of frustrations and helplessness have nevertheless seeped in. I do apologise if I have hurt the feelings of any reader (who has taken the time out to read this simple guy's jottings).
2. I am NOT an authority on the issues discussed. Mistakes are bound to be there, be it factual (when it comes to my opinions on the historical side) or elementary (on the variety of art forms discussed). I do accept them and would really appreciate the feedback and corrections, where necessary.

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