Usually, my writing-music is silence, or the buzz at a cafe. But these days, due to a foot injury, I’m off my feet, and find that music, played in the background, helps egg my dear old Muse on.I’ve tried all kinds, but the one above has been the most fruitful so far.
It is a 40-year old video by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, one of the stalwarts of Indian classical music, who passed on at the age of 88 last year. It may be alien and weird for ears unused to the genre, (and I myself understand none of the technicalities of Indian classical music), but I love the way how this guy’s vocal chords used to become a river of music—some of the twists and turns sound superhuman. The video lasts 6 minutes, during which I lay quiet, and then write till I have to stop and then I play it for another 6 minutes. That is the only way my monkey mind would focus on the job at hand these days.
Indian music has “ragas” which are associated with different times of the day, with forces of nature, or with seasons. Maybe, the productivity of my Muse has something to do with the fact that this raga, the Raga Malhar is associated with torrential rains. I love this legend which I heard about Malhar as a child, and which I now copy from wiki:
According to a legend, once the Mughal emperor Akbar asked his court musician Tansen to sing Raga Deepak, the raga of fire. The effect was such that all the lamps in the courtyard lit up themselves, and Tansen’s body became so hot that he had to sit in the nearby river to cool himself. However, the river began to boil, and it became apparent that Tansen would soon boil to death. He set out on a search to find someone who could sing Raga Malhar to cure him. In due course he reached Vadnagar, in Gujarat, where he found two sisters, Tana and Riri, whom he asked for help. They agreed to sing Raga Malhar to cure him. When they sang the Raga, rains came down in torrents, which cooled Tansen’s body immediately.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what music?