Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Breathing Instruments

A Shruti is an Indian drone instrument. I was wondering about posting relatives of accordiaons for Mister Anchovy while he is away exploring the cuisine of Portugal, the lucky dog. Years ago, at a meditation retreat, I played a drone instrument. It might be the only instrument I can play well. It entailed squeezing a box that looked like a very simple accordion or a tool for stoking a fire. (I can see this thing in my head, but have no idea what it is called...help me out if you can...I even tried googling but didn';t get anything for "fire stoking tool")

I had a kind of image that they may have been invented around the same time, and the musical instrument may have been discovered while actually trying to make a fire stoker thingie.

I also was thinking about meditation, which is primarily a breathing tool that may relax a persons mind, or may induce an altered state. I started wondering if meditation, and the chanting of ritual poetry like the Rig Veda or other prayers and the incorporation of a drone machine would very much help keep track of pacing a chant or a song or meditiation. So here is a little info about a sweet musical instrument, maybe the grandmama of the accordion?

I also found it fascinating that there is a genre of painting in India that is tightly linked to musical techniques and enjoyment.

"Music was considered to be of divine origin and was supposed to possess the property of evoking an ecstatic state of mind or mood, called rasa-anubhuti, in the musician as well as the listener. This conception of rasa is the basis of all art in India. The Sadhakas (practitioners) of music devised some formulas in order to capture and comprehend the divine quality of music and to evoke rasa or brahmananda. These were formulated in the form of prayers in which the conceptual form, dhyana-murti, of the raga was described. Thus the ragas were personified or deified. This fact provided a rich and expressive theme to Indian painters and it has considerably enriched the art treasure of India.

"Whether the dhyana-theory of ragas is sientific or otherwise it certainly furnished a rich source of theme for the Indian artists who painted some of the most charming and inspiring pictures representing the ragas (melodies). The two Ragamala MSS discovered in a manuscripts collection at Jammu are a part of the extensive art treasure created all over India during the period from 16th to 19th centuries. The Jammu Ragamala paintings were done expressly with the usual object of depicting their dhyana-murtis or icons in order to create the relevant rasa situation in those looking at them. According to Dr. Charak, the analyser of these sets, it is the background setting, the dhyana of the raga and mood of the nayikas or nayakas which animate the whole composition by providing scope for picturesqueness, fascinating use of colours, contours and the charm of variety and vigour, which are the chief features of the Jammu Ragamala paintings." (jacket)

[Sukhdev Singh Charak's book include History and Culture of Himalayan States.]

About ragamal painting
An example of ragamala painting


L.M. said...

bellows? (for the fire stoking)

Candy Minx said...

Oh thank YOU! You relieved me of my misery there. I couldn't even use a dictionary because I couldn't think of the word. Cheers!

thehealingroom said...

Hi Candy,
I found some photos of the shruti here: raganet.com/RagaNet/Issues/3/srutibox.html
I recently had an amazing experience involving a shruti, a didjerdu and singing.

Gardenia said...

Studying how music affects the brain waves is fascinating. I have an album by a singer - I will have to do some research who is amazing, I will have to share him when I relocate him. Anyway, will do some research to find some shruti music.

Sound is so important that in Christianity, one of the premises is how powerful the sound out of our mouths is. It also says in the Bible that God SPOKE the world into being.

The Tibetan chanters absolutely make me vibrate!

I used to love it when I was a little girl and grandma took me to the Shriners parades and the sounds of the drums and wind instruments made my insides quiver.

Candy Minx said...

Healing Room, thanks for the link. Sounds like an interesting sroty with the musical instuments.
Diana, yes, I bet the reseaerch on brain function and music is incredible...and kind of where my mind was wandering yesterday...and of course the "fire stoker" had a name that referenced the breath with bellows...I love the memory of your grannie and the Shriners...

Gardenia said...

Ragamala - just went in and read about this art form. We should try it. We should do a piece of art merely by concentrating on the music paying close attention to how the music is affecting our "guts" and ..... and .....create!

Tim said...

I searched like mad to find your mystery instrument. The closest I found was a harmonium. I bet that Mr. Anchovy would dig one of them!