“I feel the music in my heart.”

I was on the phone with my grandmother the other night, and I was explaining my in-depth project to her (what it is, what my project is). My grandmother was a musical icon in her neighbourhood in Calcutta, and has been involved with Indian music her entire life. I told her I was on a mission to blend Indian music and western music through my singing, while exploring different genres and mixing and matching songs, and she replied with something I didn’t expect her to say, something along the lines of:

“I am so overjoyed to see that my granddaughter is pursuing such an innovative path of music. It’s so essential, what you’re doing, introducing a little bit of either culture to those on either side – English or Indian. It’s very important for you to keep up your heritage in your musical endeavors in Canada.”

I felt like sharing with this blog, as it really meant a lot to me and really supplies me with motivation.

This update leads with one of the more productive meetings I’ve with my mentor so far. I came to her with three song combinations I recorded roughs of (which I will not include here as they are extremely rough audio recordings), two jazz and one classical combinations (with various Indian songs):

Autumn Leaves x Kabira 

A Night in Tunisia x Dil Chata Hai

Widmung x Purano Shei Diner Khotha

In short, our conversation consisted of me showing her the songs she didn’t know, explaining and demonstrating my ideas to her, and talking about the ways we could develop them and build beyond just mashing up songs. Here is a transcription of when I played the German classical song “Widmung” for her and asked for her thoughts on instrumentation for a mashup of this and “Purano Shei Diner Khotha.”

Anika: I actually learned this song with my voice teacher a few months ago, and it’s just really beautiful and when I was going through my music I immediately thought this would go nicely with that Bengali song I was talking about. (Yellow, Red)

Nina: Which one is that… the Rabindranath Tagore one? (White)

A: Yes!

N: Oh yeah okay, let’s see.

(this is when I played Widmung for her – listen to it here!)

N: Oh, that is lovely! (Red)

A: The translation is really beautiful, it basically is talking about someone who is the singer’s soul, heart, mind and soul – their whole world, right? And it goes on like that through the whole song and ends with the singer saying how that someone is their better self. (White)

N: Wow… that’s so powerful, like, I could really feel that emotion you know? I didn’t even know what it was about and I could feel it, and now that you’ve explained it – it’s really moving. (Red)

A: It is! It fits also really well with the other song melodically, even though the translations don’t exactly line up but I think I can work around and make it more theme-based you know? (Green, Yellow)

N: Yeah, of course, like taking the ideas of both songs. (Green)

A: Yeah.

N: Yeah exactly, you’ll never be able to find two songs that fit together melodically and lyrically perfectly, there will be some compromise. (Yellow)

A: Yes exactly, and that just makes it more interesting as well. (Yellow)

N: Absolutely! And are you going to be using, like, a more western instrumentation for this or use a harmonium and tabla do you think? (Green, Blue)

A: I actually I am not sure, do you think it’s realistic to try and combine them somehow? I don’t know how cohesive that would be though… (Black)

N: Well, it all depends – you never know how good something can sound until you try! (Black, Yellow)

A: Do you think if I wanted Hriday (Nina’s son) could play tabla for me? I have a harmonium. (Green)

N: Yes, definitely, he would be more than happy. We have a harmonium here too if you guys want to jam out you can come over whenever. We also have a keyboard, actually, which works out well. (Blue, Green)

A: That’s perfect!

The hats most identifiable in the conversation we had here are, from most to least: Green and Yellow, Red, then White, Black, and Blue.

This conversation involved a lot of idea development and justifications for certain ideas and actions, like when we talked about how even though only the melodies of the two songs line up and not just the words, it will still make for a good mashup as we can make something of the overall theme of the story the mashup tells with the two songs. We touched a bit on the connection we felt with Widmung and how beautiful it was. I find Nina and I tend to try and keep an open mind when working with different songs and music, as being too judgmental can be a roadblock to creativity.

I find De Bono’s hat concept very interesting, as you never would regularly think of the different types of statements or comments being brought up during a conversation as serving different functions or paths to development of the conversation – when we talk we just talk. It’s really helpful to be able to look back on our conversations and analyze the better and more productive parts, the more heartfelt ones, and the parts we can improve on for next time.