Friday, January 4, 2008

Belated Follow-Up to Sarod & Kathak Concert

Happy New Year!

I have not updated my blog in a few weeks as I have been rather occupied with some other creative projects. I will write about the status of those projects shortly.

But first, a belated follow-up to the Sarod & Kathak concert I mentioned previously. Firstly, two corrections: 1.) Pandit Ramesh Misra had to cancel his appearance, 2.) I was mistaken in the identity of the tabla player: Nitin Mitta played tabla that evening.

As I have come to a greater understanding of the rhythms of kathak dance (even at my status as a beginner) I found that I could listen to George Ruckert's playing ragas on sarod and better grasp the structure of the melodies of Hindustani music which before I probably only appreciated for its timbral qualities and emotional content. Perhaps someday I will be able to hear it with the same understanding I have when I listen to jazz or rock.

Of course, I had come to see Gretchen Hayden, my teacher, dance. One highlight was a piece from the story-telling repertoire that is taught to kathak students at Chhandika: the tale of how Krishna, as a child, conquered the water-snake demon, Kalia Naag, while fetching his ball after it fell into the Yamuna river. When we practice the story in class or in workshops, the game is one of keep-away, but that evening Gretchenji improvised a game of baseball, miming the pitches, the swings, the spitting on the ground, and the arguing with the umpire. Georgeji began to improvise a melody based on "Take Me Out To the Ball Game".

The effect was such I had to watch The Cameraman when I got home and compare it with the scene in which Buster Keaton playing a news reel cameraman, discovers that the New York Yankees are playing out of town, so he mimes a game for the camera:

My expectation that Gretchenji would be so energized from the concert that she would push us extra hard in class the next day did not come to pass however, as class was canceled due to the nor'easter that came through our region that next day.

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