Baroque Listening Project - The Beginning and an Update

This is a continuation of my Baroque music listening project . A Short Introduction to the Baroque Period The Baroque period in Western Classical Music lasted roughly between 1600 - 1750. I use the "Western" prefix to distinguish from other classical music traditions.  A musical era cannot be strictly defined as having begin and ended in specific years. The years 1600 and 1750 are set as the boundaries of this period by music historians for ease of study. If we have to look for notable events in these years - the first modern opera as we understand it today was written around 1597, and 1750 marked the death of Johann Sebastian Bach. The Baroque period saw the rise of opera and other forms like the oratorio, cantata, solo and trio sonatas, the prelude and the fugue. During the Baroque period words took precedence over the structure of the music as opposed to the preceding Rennaisance period where it was the opposite. The "Doctrine of Affections" is a defining c

Books Read This Year (So Far) - Jul 2023

These are the books I have read this year (so far) Iran - Empire of the Mind - I was looking for a good, readable history of Iran, and this was not it. Islam - A Short History - Again, I was looking for a good history of Islam, and Karen Anderson's book was definitely not it. Mastery - The Keys to Success and Long Term Fulfillment - A good treatise on what it takes to master something.  The Arabs - A History - This is a very readable narrative of Arab political history  from the Ottoman conquest of the 16th century to the first couple of decades of the 21st century by Eugene Rogan Mindset - The New Psychology of Success - Carol Dweck's book on how adopting a growth mindset over a fixed one is the key.Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam - A very dry history of pre-Islamic Arabia. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad - A collection of articles on the early history and historiography of Islam, focused on the Revisionist s

A Baroque Music Listening Project

"Not Baroque Enough" I have wanted to build a better understanding of Baroque music for a while. My forays into Baroque are limited to what I’ve played on my violin and listening to compositions I like. I don’t have a formal education in music or music history - so this seemed like a daunting task. A casual question posed to my violin teacher set the ball rolling. I was working on some pieces from Baroque Violin Pieces Book 2 - and the consistent feedback I received was "It does not sound Baroque enough".   How does one learn to play in the Baroque style? And is there a single Baroque style? What about the differences in instruments then and what we have now?   My teacher’s answer was simple but effective. "Listen more. Listen to different composers and see how they had their individual styles. Try to understand how that style changed from composer to composer". This seemed like an approach that I could take up by myself with help from online and physical

Have You Seen the Sea?

This is my amateur attempt at translating "Xagor Dekhisa" - a well known Assamese poem by Dev Kant Barooah. Have you seen the sea? Haven't you ever? I have not either But I have heard Of the blue expanse, the limitless waves Stretching to the far horizon. Have you not witnessed, the sea-blue agony Of my heart? Where a million waves of desire ebb and flow On the shore of your memories. Have you not heard? Have you not heard the furious song Of my stormy sea? Have you not understood? Not even felt, the caressing hint of spring Among the flowers? The rainbow - you must have witnessed, the enchanting play of light On the monsoon clouds But have you seen the play of colours in my heart, Lit by the light of love? Have you heard the heartbreaking cry of the cuckoo Upon awakening at midnight? Ever wondered about the human yearning That cries out from the throat of a bird? I know how much you know! O my heartless one, You only know You are you, I am me. But you do not know, why w

Gustav Adolf Huber - A Forgotten German Composer

Gustav Adolf Huber was a German musician, composer and music educationist. He was born in 1872 in Magdeburg, Germany. I learnt his beautiful Concertino in G Major recently and tried to find out more about his life. Information about Huber is hard to come by. Popular encyclopedias of classical music do not mention him at all. There is very little on the internet - except for a tiny bilingual website dedicated to him. The English version seems to have been Google-translated from the German version, with odd results. The site does have a few photographs of his family and descendants, and an incomplete list of his compositions. I found this video to be an expressive rendition of the Concertino in G Major. In contrast to the sparseness of information about Huber himself, the number of videos on YouTube of students playing his compositions is far higher. His compositions are widely used - as his eponymous website correctly claims - in music teaching. The name of his hometown is perhaps bet

On Buying Vinyl Records in India

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to own a record player. From the first passing thought, triggered by something I had read, it quickly became an obsession where I spent hours researching players, stereo setups, availability of vinyl records in India and reading what others have done. My music was completely digital until then, because of the dual factors of convenience and availability. The cassettes of my schooldays had been relegated to being locked up in cardboard boxes for many years since there was nothing to play them on. I went through all the initial phases that are typical of the vinyl newbie who is not discerning enough yet, has money to spend, and follows all the advice they read online - often conflicting - to the letter. I was driven to possess a medium that I grew up listening to - courtesy a father who invested in music - and I realized that this was a good investment when I listened to Boney M's Oceans of Fantasy on vinyl for the first time. My father

ACK Valmiki's Ramayana - in 6 volumes

Amar Chitra Katha has brought out a 6 volume boxed set of the Ramayana. They are packaged in a not-so-sturdy blue box with gold text and a bow and arrow. Each of the volumes covers one Kanda (book), with the 6th one including Uttara Kanda along with the Yuddha Kanda. The individual books are hard-bound, with glossy printed pages. If you have grown up with ACK, as I have, you won't find the art familiar. It's more "modern", if that's the right word. Each book is by a different artist, with some by the same ones, and that too shows, but not so much as to break the flow. In my opinion, Book 1's art is the weakest in the collection, as far as detail is concerned. The script for all volumes is by Harini Gopalswami Srinivasan . There are a couple of sections in each book where an attempt is made to explain concepts and add background detail to socio-political and mythological aspects encountered in the nearby pages. These are nice addi