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...While the lawmakers certainly saw some logic in doing this, I wonder if they realised that the antecedents of the modern violin actually lie in the humbler and yet unquestionably subcontinental ‘Ravanahatha,’ a stringed ancient violin played with a bow? Or that the harmonium is an 18th Century creation of Alexander Debain in France, and later imported to the subcontinent? Or for that matter, that the piano itself is a combination of various influences including that of the antique dulcimer (the same parent as the santoor), and the harp (which is also an instrument that was common in the ancient trading world and found even in Southern India!). More than the law itself, it was the reactions to it on social media that intrigued me. There were passionate cries of “Western instruments have no place here” or its equivalent. The irony of expressing this in English and on a technology platform did not escape me. ...The Hindu on Sept. 21, 2017, 9:16 p.m.
...goes the weasel“ These opening lines of one of the most enigmatic Old English folk songs has often set me thinking about the fundamental importance of words, and their effect on the shaping of meaning, emotion, and the human condition. The words seem nonsensical without context until one gets into what each of these ideas meant at the time they were probably composed. Either way , these words have a rhythmic meter of their own and become inseparable from the melody composed for them. In Indian philosophical discourse, tremendous attention is paid to the idea of ‘shabda brahman’ or the conscious as shaped by the spoken word. In Sanskrit, for instance, just a casual rearrangement of syllables yields completely different meaning and resonance. Thus, `Ravana’ becomes `Vanara’ in one permutation, while the latter can be used to derive `Nara’ and `Narayana’. In Carnatic music, I have often been bemused by the importance (or lack thereof) placed by different practitioners on lyric and contextual meaning. ...TOI on Nov. 11, 2016, 7 a.m.