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Books Read January - June 2024

These are the books I read so far this year. Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I'd Known Earlier Learn Like a Pro - I finally finished this. The Priceless Gift of a Rich Cultural Education - An extremely inspiring book on how one man gave himself a wide-ranging education by reading good books. The book suggestions are out of date but that is irrelevant. Learn Like a Polymath: How to Teach Yourself Anything, Develop Multidisciplinary Expertise, and Become Irreplaceable - Avoid. Zen in the Art of Archery - Avoid. Why ? Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner - Reread this after ages. Not as inspiring towards the end as it seemed earlier. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair Siddhartha   The Odyssey - Did not finish, dropped off at 70% Steppenwolf - One of my best loved books of this year. A Man Called Ove - My best loved book of this year so far.  The Return of Vaman: A Science-Fiction Novel - I had to reread this for a paper I was writing for the

Books Read in Aug - Dec 2023

These are the books I read in the second half of last year Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam : An informative summary of Pre-Islamic Arabia. The dearth of available sources shows but it manages to throw good light on a few areas. It's a dry read unless you are interested in a specific aspect - e.g. architecture, or religion, or social life, of the period.   The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice : A great exposition on how to apply Yoga's philosophical principles to our daily lives. It's targeted at Western readers, which I felt was unnecessary, but that does not take away much from it. Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From :  A very readable popular science book dealing with how new genetic research is uncovering the true nature of human migration across millennia, and in the process, how this research is settling the Aryan migration question. The House of Jagat Seth : A history o

Baroque Listening Project - The Beginning and an Update

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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. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad - A collection of articles on the early history and historiography of Islam, focused on the Revisionist school. Meta Learning: How To Learn Deep Learning And Thrive In The Digital World - This book was a misnomer

A Baroque Music Listening Project

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"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