There are stages in how one reacts to Classical Music. I am not just referring to stages of casual listening, then liking, following, collecting and getting totally addicted.
Beyond an initial liking that develops, one starts understanding the nuances and technical parts. There is the joy of discovery when one is able to identify a certain raag, or follow a taal.
But there comes a stage when the technical aspects start looking too formidable to comprehend. Chalan-bhed, shruti-bhed, vakra swar…. it just keeps getting increasingly complicated. It is at such times that this book – The Music Room – By Namita Devidayal, comes as a saviour. No, it tells you nothing about these technicalities. It does something else, and does it very well indeed.
It tells us how Hindustani Classical Music is not just science or just art. It is a touching narrative of how the Guru-Shishya relationship between the author and her Guru, Dhondutai Kulkarni evolved over decades. But the book is not merely a report of events told nicely. It goes on to show us that Classical Music is actually what comes out of a melting pot of relationships. Gurus behaving strangely with disciples (and vice versa), an artist using one moment of public humiliation to trigger a fierce lifelong battle, battle of egos, love, hate, adulation, possessiveness, it is all there.
So the next time you wonder why the same raag sounds so different coming from two artists, remember that it is not only because of the technical equations and mathematics. It is also because it is expression coming from two different human beings.