Music of Joy and the Joy of Music

Friday evening, Music of Joy was performing.  This was the first time I was watching them from the audience point of view.  Previously I had joined them to sing at International Pujas, learn a few songs from them and just listened to the CD.

They were just great.  Awesome voices, amazing composition, the blend of different instruments were just out of this world.  I love all their singing and the songs.  It's just different from the Indian classical bhajan.  How they combined their voices into different tones to create harmony.  How they use different musical intruments to create a different feel.  They had the Indian instruments like harmonium, tabla, dholak and chimtar.  Then they blend it with the Western instruments like the bass guitar, saxaphone, flute and other percussion instruments.  Finally, because they were from Australia, they had a didgeridoo too to give the classic aboriginal feel. 

One cannot compare Western classical music with Indian classical music.  Personally, I like both.  I was trained in Western classical instrument and Indian classical vocal.

Coming from a Western classical background (I learned the piano and finished my Grade 8 in 2000), I like the Western music because of the way they do the harmonies, in which they combined the voices into sopranos, alto, tenor and bass.  They do that with instruments too.  With voices without any musical instrments, it is called acapella.  I have never learned to sing the harmonies and I am not good at all doing harmonies.  But I love the way they sound.

I started learning Indian classical vocal in 2002 from a Sahaja Yogi who learned it from the late Dr. Arun Apte.  Now it's 2010 and although I have learn it for 8 years, I still have not master it.  Indian classical vocal is very traditional and the techniques used give the richness to the music. 

Unlike Western music, I find Indian classical music are not easily appreciated if one does not have Indian classical vocal training or not born in India.  Western music is easily accepted by everyone because we hear them everyday, on our radio, on TV, on MP3 players, on our CD player, etc, etc. 

Before I learn Indian classical vocal, I could not appreciate it too because I was too conditioned by the Western music that I was brought up to.  Now that I have understand the intricacies of Indian classical music and how it is related to our chakras, it gives a deeper meaning, not only the knowledge part but also the feelings part.

I find Indian classical vocal training is a lifetime training and one cannot be declared a master just because we have learn the techniques.  It is much more deeper than that.  One have to sing with feelings, with the techniques and the ability to play with one's voice to create different feelings, the ability to match with the tabla beats and change accordingly and to be able to go from very low to very high note without losing the notes, to be able to understand all the rules of the raga and much more.  It gets better everyday with dedication, hardwork and meditation.  Those who are masters or Pandit in Indian classical music are really very good and have put a lot of sweat, dedication, love to God into it. 

Well, these are just my personal feelings because I am currently still learning the techniques.  It's not easy at all.  Whether Western or Indian, if we sing with complete dedication to the Divine, that's when we can feel the Joy in Music and those bhajans becomes the Music of Joy.