Filed under: Project Creativity | Tags: Anurag Basu, art, artist, Barfi, Bollywood, creativity, film education, film workshop, foreign language film, indian cinema, Indian film Oscar nominee, inspiration, oorvazi, oorvazi irani, originality, Oscar, plagiarism
Plagiarism , Inspiration and Beyond
By Oorvazi Irani
None of us artists are pure or not guilty of this crime in small ways and big but we need to strive to be original.
Creativity and originality are two of the biggest challenges for an artist. And consciously or subconsciously we are all copying from the past from film, literature, paintings etc. Therefore one way to help escape this is being inspired by life – the need to look within and into our own lives. Be inspired by observing life first hand rather than sit back on a chair and soak in the observations of others.
But having said that if a great artist has moved us there is no harm paying homage to the work but we need to be able to take it to another level or make it our own. And if the tribute is very strong the source needs to be acknowledged.
Sometimes our society pushes us to imitate, to plagiarize, eg a local fashion magazine has an international standard it wants to meet and be assured of success, thus is not interested in originality, but imitating a successful photographer, his image that can guarantee success. The new local fashion photographer is told to imitate that international standard image and not urged to be original. The film industry wants a success formula and its industry sometimes pushes the filmmaker to play safe and imitate successful moments rather than create them, but the artist and his conscience will not be spared. The current film “Barfi” (directed by Anurag Basu and produced by UTV) is being sent to the Oscars as an Indian nomination is a case in point.
Each artist needs to try and find means by which he accesses his imagination and creativity to be original. Surrealism as one art movement started in the 1920’s, besides being a revolt also encouraged the artist to a more primal source of inspiration – our subconscious, and a realm beyond logic and rationality. This technique is still used by creative artists today to help them find a voice of their own.
How to be truly original – the search continues for each artist and infact each human being. To make an invention, a breakthrough, atleast strive for excellence and we will be closer to living a more authentic life and create a more authentic world. Those are moments of inspiration which we need to strive for rather than take the easy route.
Filed under: Art Appreciation | Tags: cinema, film education, film workshop, films, German New Wave, movies, oorvazi irani, Riddhiman Basu, The Tin Drum, world cinema
“THE TIN DRUM” : A Comparision between the Novel(1959) by Guntar Grass and the Film(1979) by Volker Schlondorff
Bergman believed that cinema should be independent of literature. However, more often than not, literature has inspired films and some of them have turned out to be great films indeed. One such film is ‘The Tin Drum’ (Die Blechtrommel), a German language film made by Volker Schlöndorff in 1979. It is based on nobel prize winner Gunter Grass’s novel of the same name. Grass’s work was a pioneer in European magical realism, was widely read and translated into many languages. Hence, the prospect of adapting it to celluloid was a very challenging one. It is generally agreed that Volker had succeeded in justifying the text and his film is a marvel on its own. It received Palme d’Or at Cannes(jointly with ‘Apocalypse Now’) in 1979. I would like to present a comparative study between the book and the film, highlighting the major differences between them:
1) The novel in three parts traces a period starting from before the rise of Hitler to after his fall and the reconstruction of Germany. The major events however take place not in Germany, but in Danzig which geographically lies between Germany and Poland and has often been shuffled from being a free state to being under the German or the Polish rule. This is the focus for the first 2 parts. However, in the 3rd part of the novel, the focus shifts to Dusseldorf in Germany and reflects the problems Grass himself faced due to the displacement and his inability to adapt to postwar Germany.
The movie on the other hand restricts itself to the first 2 parts of the book and concerns itself with the rise and fall of Nazism on Danzig. It successfully maintains an ambience of black humor that is a characteristic of the book.
2) The book starts with 30 year old Oskar in a mental asylum, narrating the story of his life. For a major part of the novel, Oskar himself is the narrator. However, in the 3rd part, the onus of narration shifts to the warden and a friend of Oskar’s. Through these passages narrated by others, Grass has hinted that the protagonist could be an unreliable narrator, thereby playing with our perception. This aspect of the novel has been generally understood as a metaphor for the inherent indeterminacy of the period of Hitler’s Nazi reign. Moreover, if we consider Oskar’s unreliability, it could challenge the very premise of magical realism. This sort of a literary experimentation adds to the credibility of the novel apart from its importance as an allegory.
In the film however, this unreliability of narration is omitted along with the 3rd part of the book. It also begins with the narration of Oskar, but the director deliberately eludes the part of the asylum. The omission of the 3rd part of the book in the movie is an apt choice in my opinion, since the premise of the film is the chronicle of Danzig and a satire on Nazism. The depiction of Oskar as an unreliable narrator would have diverted the theme of the movie to a large extent.
3) Oskar’s drums and his drumming action come across as a unspoken language of protest. Apart from this, they serve a few important purposes in the novel. Firstly they act as a chronicle of his life and events surrounding him. In the book, it is mentioned that, all the old broken drums are stored in the cellar of their house, each with a number label. A diary is maintained in the cellar which records the life span of each of them, i.e the time during which they were functional. In his narrative, Oskar often mentions drumming up past events. Therefore his drumming also acts as a reconstruction of people and events that have gone by. Secondly, his drum is a means to induce chaos in order. The Nazi party gatherings at the rostrums are disrupted by his incessant drum beating. He makes them dance to his rhythm, thereby breaking down the orderliness of the Nazis.
The first utility of the drum is not present in the movie. However the other aspect of the drum is brilliantly translated to celluloid. The sequence of Oskar hiding under the rostrum, playing his drum from there, the crowd and even the leaders drifting into a waltz in spite of themselves, is one of the most memorable sequences in the movie. This phenomenon of relapsing into disorderliness, or rather a higher order consisting of waltz rhythm is a satirical reference to the imposed artificiality of the Nazi regime under Hitler, which is easily broken down through human instinct.
4) Oskar’s abilities with his voice are the most significant elements of magical realism in the novel. According to the book, Oskar’s voice is capable of generating two types of sounds, one a high pitched scream that can shatter glass, another an inaudible frequency with which, he can silently cut through glass. We need to look at the two of them separately. The incidents of shattering glass come across as expressions of fury, and happen whenever Oskar gives vent to his anger. The silent glass-cutting voice and its consequences on the other hand, serve to symbolize an important aspect of history known as ‘Kristallnacht’. In the book, Oskar describes that during winter, at the dead of the night, he would sneak out and use his inaudible voice to make circular incisions in shop windows and then use the power of his voice to topple the incised portions. These shops would contain tempting materials such as jewelry or thick fur coats(tempting for someone who is freezing on a winter night) etc. He would wait in the dark and observe the passers-by, most of who would be tempted to take them away. He called this game ‘playing the tempter’. This activity resulted in broken glass windows. ‘Kristallnacht’, also referred to as the ‘Night of Broken Glass’, or ‘Reichskristallnacht’, was a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary and civilians. German authorities looked on without intervening. The attacks left the streets covered with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues, thereby earning such a name.
In the movie however, Oskar can mostly scream and shatter glass. The events of Oskar playing the tempter are not present; hence the metaphor of ‘Kristallnacht’ is also lost. However, the actual events of ‘Kristallnacht’ are illustrated through the example of Sisigmund Markus and his toy shop.
The events of shattering glass are portrayed diligently and their relation with Oskar’s rage is commendably elucidated.
5) The phenomenon of Oskar’s remaining physically stunted during the Nazi reign and accidentally induced into an unnatural growth phase after the end of Nazi reign is, according to me, a metaphor for the oppression of the non-Germans in Danzig during the Nazi rule and the half-hearted reconstruction of Germany in the postwar period, from the perspective of the book. In general, Oskar’s magical powers, his sexual prowess and his adulthood in an apparently child-like outward appearance are a metaphor for the hidden horrors of the Nazi regime. According to the 3rd part of the book, he looses his powers and even his potency, after he starts growing. This could very well symbolize the downfall of the Third Reich and the plight of postwar Germany.
However, since the movie ends with part 2 of the book, the problems of New Germany do not come into its context. From the perspective of the movie, the metaphor of stunted growth will have the same implication as in the novel. However, the phenomenon of Oscar growing up can have only one interpretation (since the problems of that growth phase are not touched upon in the movie), the liberation of Danzig and the downfall of Nazi party. The metaphor for the horrors of Nazi regime would also apply here.
6) Finally, I would like to point out one improvement in the movie as compared to the book, based on my observations. Regarding the incident of the eels, in the novel, Agnes refuses to eat the eels and Alfred throws them in the dustbin to console her. In the movie however, Jan and Alfred persuade her to eat the eels. Agnes’s consequent fetish for eating fish that ultimately results in her untimely demise is thus better reasoned in the movie than in the book
This is not an exhaustive list of differences between the novel and the film. However, we must accept the film as an independent work of art and appreciate it from that standpoint. Whenever a novel is adapted into a film, the director’s interpretation of the narrative makes certain deviations or omissions necessary. However, the most important aspect for such a film is to capture the core spirit of the book. In this regard, Volker Schlöndorff has shone brightly, making this movie a part of the timeless world classics.
The Author was invited by me to write this post
About the Author Riddhiman Basu:
A software engineer by profession, yet an individual with varied passions. Literature and Music have been his passions since childhood. He has had formal training in Indian Classical music as well as Rabindrasangeet. Cinema as a passion came later, but soon caught up with the others. Starting with the likes of Ray and Ghatak, he has now moved on to the arena of world cinema.
References for the Article:
Filed under: Art Appreciation | Tags: acting, acting techniques, arshinagar project. Arka mukhopadhyay, art, artists, film education, jerzy grotowsky, oorvazi irani
I would like to present this special interview with Arka that i conducted yesterday night and would like to tell you about his upcoming workshop The Arshinagar Project presents “Fools and Princes” – a workshop exploring fragments from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘King Lear’, through breath, rhythm and physicality.
Workshop Dates: May 14th – 18th Time: 4 PM to 9 PM
Venue: Vedic Cultures, Mahalaxmi Fees: 3,500
Q1. Arka, you have a unique and interesting project The Arshinagar Project which you describe as ‘This project is a journey exploring freedom and love as essential conditions for living on Earth.’ how and why did this project come into being?
It essentially came out of my individual experiences in theatre, as also working through theatre working with children and teachers, activism, and my exposure to spiritual performance forms such as Qawwali, Baul songs, and the dohans of Kabir. It is also fundamentally inspired by the philosophy of Jerzy Grotowski. For many years, I was working as an individual, wandering about here and there, but at a certain point, I wanted to extend that to a collective vision, and so, about a year ago, The Arshinagar Project was born. It is a trans-disciplinary performance research collective, working at the intersection of performance, education, anthropology and ecology. Our name in fact comes from a Baul song, and means ‘the city of mirrors’ – so we are essentially trying to work with pluralistic visions of identity, in the process promoting the values of personal freedom and love towards other human beings as fundamental to being human. I invite your readers to find out more about us on facebook.com/thearshinagarproject.
Q2. The Body plays a very important role in your work and would you like to share with us why the body is so important in your process?
Well because everything begins and ends with the body, doesn’t it? We don’t have only one body, but several bodies, several identities – there is our dramatic body, our erotic body, our political body… all the great masters of theatre focussed on the body in their own way. Stanislavsky, Chekov, Meyerhold, Vakhtangov, Artaud, and of course Grotowsky, who’s my greatest influence. And even the ancient Indian Sanskrit theatre was rich in movement and gesturality, as are all our folk/tribal/classical performance forms. To work with the body, to work with rhythms that ultimately originate from our breath itself, is to in a way liberate ourselves and connect with a primal, childlike self, from where deep creative possibilities can emerge.
Q3. Your project is inclusive of all artists including actors and among others you are strongly influenced by Jerzy Grotowski’s work. What according to you is his most valuable insight to the actor ?
That the actor must be vulnerable, that s/he must have the courage to be spiritually ‘naked’ before the audience, be at once the priest as well as the sacrifice (The Holy Actor, as he calls it) must constantly question his/her own clichés, must discard recipes or a box of tricks, and must instead look inside for his/her own truth.
Q4. Could you describe very briefly the special feature of your current workshop “Fools and Princes” and what should the participant expect to learn from the workshop?
At one level, an entirely different awareness of breath, which is built upon my research into Buddhist meditation techniques, Sufi practices, and other forms – and a way to express the cardinal Rasaas through breath. They’ll also learn how to approach text based entirely on rhythm, as opposed to purely psychological approaches such as the method. We’ll try to experience organicity, impulse and flow. But more than any techniques, the participant will be constantly questioning and challenging himself/herself, and will try to access their personal creative essence.
Arka Mukhopadhyay is a theatre researcher, performer and pedagogue, as also a poet and a Spoken-Word artist. He is engaged in researching a performance language that delves into ancient mystical performance traditions but is at the same time reflective of contemporary truths.
“Fools and Princes” Workshop
The Arshinagar Project presents “Fools and Princes” – a workshop exploring fragments from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘King Lear’, through breath, rhythm and physicality. Led by The Arshinagar Project founding member Arka Mukhopadhyay, the workshop is based on The Arshinagar Project’s research into the performer’s craft, which is inspired by Jerzy Grotowski’s philosophy of the ‘holy actor’ and draws upon the spirit of forms such as Sufi Qawwali and the Baul tradition of Bengal, in effect aiming for a performer who, through a total dissolution of the ego, touches his inner essence.
Participants will explore the connections between breath and the nine fundamental rasaas, organicity and rhythm, impulse and flow, musicality and vocal work, movement and basic acrobatics and solo, partner and ensemble creation, in the process learning to let go of technique and acquired cliches, to be fully present in the space, to give support and to receive the presence of the co-actor, to share laughter and tears, to be joyful and free.
The workshop is open to actors, dancers, musicians, teachers and others who are interested in exploring psycho-physiological performance craft as a pathway towards unlocking the Self. No prior experience in Shakespearean performance is assumed. The workshop will be conducted in English but participants are free to work with text in their own language.
In order to join, please send an e-mail to email@example.com, stating your background, performance experience if any (in theatre, music, dance or in any other way), and your reasons for wanting to join the workshop, by the 13th of May.
For an example of Arka’s performance work, please visit the following link:
Filed under: Art Appreciation | Tags: acting, actor, ares, artist, descargar ares, film, limewire, oorvazi irani red tube, pandora deezer
Filed under: Art Appreciation | Tags: acting, Acting training, actor, Anthony Hopkins, Bandini, cinema, hollywood, indian cinema, limewire, Michael Chekhov, oorvazi irani, pandora, Sanjay Nath steam
The Actor’s VOID
I began my acting stint at a very early age, won many awards in various plays through school and college for dramatics, elocution and poetry recitals.
Later I came to Bombay in the early 80’s. Pearl Padamse and Jalal Agha took a liking towards me and introduced me to Modeling and commercial theater. I did various print and T.V commercials along the way and continued with the workshops and plays under her guidance.
I have later trained as a voice over with Darrpan and then with Steve Hudson, in his patent technique named the P.S.R (presentation and reading skills)“Voice Master” who has been training Voice Over artists and actors like Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Dame Judy Dench, and Tom Hanks in his technique and the importance of Voice acting. I have dubbed over 50 Hollywood movies in Hindi and other foreign films.
This helped me to a very large extent to once again brush up my skills as an actor and have later been training aspiring actors in the importance of voice acting and voice exercises for an actor.
I have been the voice over for Times Now, and lent my voice to several launches and presentations including the prestigious V.Shantaram Awards 5 consecutive years.
On television I have had the opportunity to play different shades and received appreciation relatively from “Left right left”, Mahabharat, Bandini, Koi aaney KO hai, Crime Patrol, and Khottey Sikkey. And 2 movies with Shahid Kapoor – Paathshala and Chance pe Dance.
I have in the course of time kept working on finessing my skills, and attended various acting workshops. My father always said “That Man is a Student throughout his life” and I believe not because they were wise words from a father to son, but because I realized it.
I always felt a great void in me apart from all the appreciation I kept getting for my work, it constantly bothered me. I read various techniques on acting but this did not fill my void, as the technique itself felt void.
I have great admiration for Anthony Hopkins and regard him amongst the finest actors, primarily for his outstanding performance in “Silence of the Lambs” I must have watched the movie for the very sake over a dozen times and yet the character excites me as much. I asked myself what made him so believable, what do great actors do to be so? And the ease is so, as if “the character himself was the actor not the other way around”.
How do I create this magic? I needed to understand this at a deeper level and on a very spiritual plane.
While doing some research I found an interesting link amongst some greats like Anthony Hopkins to Johnny Depp and that was – Michael Chekhov.
I began on my quest and read all I could online whilst I began searching for his books and willed there was someone in Mumbai who taught the Chekhov technique just then an advert of Oorvazi popped up on my screen.
I truly relished each day of the course. Being a trainer myself I am aware that retention span of a student does not last beyond 20 minutes, however 6 hours felt less. I have thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and gained immensely. Chekhov training has connected me more spiritually as an actor, adapting a character, living him believably, portraying him with ease and consistently is where the magic is.
Chekhov’s training helps mould the body into pure work of art; it makes you the Master craftsmen, architect, enabling oneself to create characters beyond the realm of imagination. I often experienced a stressful state while and after playing a certain character, and by doing so it affects us to a great deal psychologically.
I have recently read an article about a young girl who had acted in a documentary film to promote awareness on growing suicide, took the extreme step herself.
Chekhov trains an actor to create that imaginary body of the character with tools therefore reversing the process of straining the mental self to alter the physical state. Therefore using Chekhov techniques we apply tools to the physical self to then alter the mental state thus without harming and effecting the mind, and it is easy to switch off from the character after the scene, and consequently not carrying the baggage and emotions, stress of the character into ourselves and our daily lives.
I have finally found the tools to fill my void, and I know it will take immense practice and effort to master these tools, the tools for the kill I would rather say and each kill will be different from the other, each time I will explore a new tool and probably a combination of them, and that is what makes this a great technique and it is limitless hence opening infinite dimensions for the artist.
I had wonderful experience learning with Oorvazi, and I am now looking forward to other sessions with her and the advanced course as well, she is an outstanding trainer who understands the art well.
Sanjay Nath attended Oorvazi Irani’s Michael Chekhov Acting Technique
Course, January 2012
Filed under: Project Creativity | Tags: cinema, creativity, film appreciation, film course, film education, oorvazi irani, sorab irani
PROJECT CREATIVITY: PART FOUR
filmmaker, media project consultant,literary agent
August 24th 2010
Creativity was at first considered only the prerogative of God as only God could create because it was perceived that ‘to create’ meant to create from nothing some thing entirely new, the notion of something miraculous, something in the divine realm. With time this perception changed radically man was also accepted to have the divine power to create, to bring into being something absolutely new from nothing. The proof of this in true if we just look around us, today modern living is indeed miraculous.
How can one be creative. How to create not how to be innovative. No doubt one can be creatively innovative and hence innovation is also creative, but can we be God-like and create something absolutely new from nothing – yes we can.
Therefore essentially creativity is that process that is a quantum leap from the known into the unknown – the reclaiming of the unmanifest or the ability of being able to bring about a result where the unmanifest transforms itself into the manifest.
All great breakthroughs in all fields of human endeavor have this miraculous process at work. The real point of creativity is a sudden leap into the unknown from where something revolutionary and absolutely new is born. This is possible because the source of all creation is pure consciousness and each one of us in our essential state are pure consciousness. Pure consciousness is also pure potentiality; it is the field of all possibility and infinite creativity.
So each and every one of us has what it takes to create, we have the innate ability in just being conscious, alive, to be creative, it is our essential human nature.
Contemplate this, and be creative this very instant, being alive and conscious is all the tools of creativity you will ever need.
Filed under: Project Creativity
PROJECT CREATIVITY: Part Three
David Lynch “Catching the Big Fish”
Desire for an idea is like bait. When you’re fishing, you have to have patience. You bait your hook, and then you wait. The desire is the bait that pulls those fish in – those ideas.
The beautiful thing is that when you catch one fish that you love, even if it’s a little fish – a fragment of an idea – that fish will draw in other fish , and they’ll hook onto it. Then you’re on your way. Soon there are more and more and more fragments, and the whole thing emerges. But it starts with desire.
Filed under: Project Creativity | Tags: cinema workshop, creativity, film appreciation. film education, film workshop, navroze contractor, oorvazi irani
PROJECT CREATIVITY: PART TWO
Some thoughts on creativity.
By Navroze Contractor, August 2010
Basically, creativity is the ability to generate innovative ideas and manifest them from thought into reality. The process involves ‘original’ thinking and the producing it in one form or the other, could be plastic arts, visual arts, performing arts, writing and of course, since we are on that forum, in cinema.
I put ‘original’ in brackets because I feel it is a hugely over used term and I am almost convinced that there is really nothing original. It is said that all forms are in nature. When you learn art, it is said all forms are in the human figure and so it is drawn over and over again for centuries. The starting point then for me is to be humble and not make claims that may insult or tread on the feet’s of earlier masters.
The most creative phase in life is in childhood when nothing has conditioned our minds, we have no history to refer to and everything viewed and heard is NEW. But this stage remain for a very short while as our mind develops and begins to absorb sounds, sights, touch and taste. As soon as this happens the mind collects data that we begin to refer to unconsciously.
To each, some senses grow bigger than the others. As the body motors begin to coordinate, those senses begin to ooze out through them, manifest them to some reality. If a child’s sense of hearing is intense, his vocal abilities grow faster. If the visual senses are awakened earlier it could manifest in the hands being able to draw, emote etc.
It is true that more the child is ‘exposed’ the more creative they will be. If exposed to ‘artistic’ environment there is a greater possibility of focus on that. If a child is exposed to a lot of hardship the creative juices will flow towards innovating ways to making a better life. And, creativity is the search to finally how you solve a problem. And in both cases, it may not be true at all.
Once a field is ‘chosen’ it entirely depends on how much ‘relish’ is within, and how much ‘relish’ a teacher imbibes in us. A curiosity lies within us that need nourishment and it only comes with the ‘relish’ we have for our subject. The more we read, the more we see, the more we hear the fuller our reference library becomes. The information is stored and we process it to enable our work that is ‘knowledge’. The most successful creative people are those who love what they do the most. It could be anything, arts, science, business..whatever.
For me, personally the most creative activity is any performing arts. It is here they are judged on the spot, by a few hundred discerning people. There is no second chance, no time for re edit, re think and re do. All other arts, the artist works where having the time and space to constantly change the work till complete satisfaction, but not to a musician or a dancer.
As my teacher Laszlo Kovacs said very often: ‘When you are ready to take the shot, remember, it becomes history’. This is not there for a performing artist. Their burden starts when the stage lights turn on.
Filed under: Project Creativity | Tags: art, creativity, film appreciation, film education, Hemant Morparia, oorvazi irani
This is my special feature “PROJECT CREATIVITY” in which I will invite special guests to share their thoughts and experiences on the topic.
I too will share my thoughts and experiences in the near future.
HEMANT MORPARIA cartoonist/sculptor/radiologist
Interviewed on July 22nd 2010
1. WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH CREATIVITY ?
A. Creativity is life itself. and being creative makes one live fully and look forward to each and every day as full of potential
2. HOW DOES THE CREATIVE PROCESS WORK FOR YOU ?
A. It works from the macro to the micro events in life- all are helped generously by it.
3. ACCORDING TO YOU WHAT IS NECESSARY TO CULTIVATE IT, NURTURE IT ?
A. courage, openness, innocence and curiosity
Filed under: Art Appreciation | Tags: art, art appreciation, artists, education, film appreciation, music, music appreciation, music composer, music in cinema, oorvazi film education, oorvazi film studies, roddy mathews, roddy mathews london
Roddy Matthews, London
Roddy Matthews has been a professional musician and composer for over thirty years. He has written for film and television, including over 100 episodes of the long running ITV drama, London’s Burning. He has contributed as a player to many successful TV shows – including Absolutely Fabulous, Bottom, Alexei Sayle’s Stuff, French and Saunders, The Lenny Henry Show, Fry and Laurie, World of Happy – and has played on hit recordings for George Michael, Shakin’ Stevens, Sinitta, Basement Jaxx, and Alphabeat. Along the way he has sung for England, remixed Snoop Dogg, argued with Peter Waterman, and played guitar in the Oxford Union hall at the invitation of Benazir Bhutto.
Q1. How would you define music?
At its simplest, music is just organised sound.
Q2. How is music different from the other arts ?
Music is different from all language-based arts because notes and rhythms work on universal human responses. In this way it is like visual arts. But all music has particular cultural influences and meanings, so it is not entirely true to say that music is a kind of ‘universal language’, at least not one that will always be correctly interpreted. Music is more general than literature and most kinds of pictorial art, but really it is nearer to forms of abstract painting than anything else. It works directly on our emotions, by-passing a great deal of the conscious, reflective mind.
Q3. What is the basic knowledge that someone needs to know to be able to understand music and be able to use it in collaboration with a music composer?
If you mean from the point of view of a film-maker or choreographer, then it is best to know very specifically what you wish to convey in your film or dance piece, and to be able to explain this in non-technical words to a composer. Technical knowledge of music is not always helpful, and too much detailed instruction may well restrict the composer’s freedom. Most non-musicians are actually very prejudiced about music – in other words they have their own ‘taste’. It is very difficult not to develop tastes in music, and in collaboration with a composer the first trick is to work with someone whose instinctive tastes are compatible with your own. Find this out early, and the rest will probably follow.
Q4. How does music work?
In terns of physics, we are talking about resonant frequencies and complex interactions of sound waves. In terms of art and emotions, no one really knows. Just respect the fact that it works very well when done with humility, care and skill.
Q5. How is western music different from Indian music?
That is a massively complex question, and one that has fascinated generations. Rhythmically they are very similar, and the main differences appear when we move to harmony. Western music relies on subtle movements of accompanying notes, used in combination, leading to the development of a system of keys and chord patterns. This is largely absent in Indian music, which relies for most of its effects on variations in the featured notes of the main instrument/singer. Inflections in the pitch of this main voice create the interest, and the overall ‘key’ of the music remains the same throughout. The bass note, the drone, does not move. Indian classical instruments are all designed with this in mind. In Indian music a singer will always sing in the same ‘key’, to his or her own ‘sa’. In Western music, the key of each piece can be different; the singer or instrument has a ‘range’ and the lowest note in this range will fall at different points in the ‘key’ in different pieces.
Q6. What is it that attracts you to music the most ?
Its emotional nature, its collaborative ethos, and the fact that there is always more to learn. It is not possible to write good music without respect for the form, or with any degree of cynicism in your heart.
Q7. Has there been an evolution of music in the past many years and how would you describe that very briefly?
In the West, music making has been opened up to more people through technology. This is a good thing in the sense that more people are expressing themselves, but the advent of cheap digital technology has also been a bad thing in that more and more people are making music that sounds almost exactly the same. Though the computer revolution may be a victory for the democratic principle, it has not enhanced the quality of the music actually being made. But the ancient rhythms still work, pulse and melody still move people, so in some ways little has changed.
Q8. Would you like to comment about the relationship between music and film ?
That is something that very clever people have written entire books about. The two go very well together. Music can be emotional but unspecific; film can be very detailed but still ambiguous. Together they combine to provide emotional narratives for the viewer, guiding the responses in a way that the two elements cannot do apart. A good film score should always work as music away from the film that generated it, and it should produce the same general emotions. The major problem comes when film makers want musicians to insert emotion into a film that lacks it. Music cannot save a poorly made film, and unfortunately sometimes musicians are made to feel guilty for this failing. Music can provide tension to a sequence that lacks structure, but it can never provide the payoff. Bad acting or scriptwriting cannot be saved. No one will like a character just because there is nice music under his or her lines. Jokes cannot be made funnier afterwards by a sting. If it’s not in the can or on the page then no amount of bluster on the soundtrack will make it work. When film and music are working well together, the viewer should experience the film as one complete entity, and ideally should not even notice the music. This may be a blow to some musicians’ egos, but anyone wishing to make a career in film music had better learn this lesson early on – or write music that stands on its own anyway. The director is the boss and the achievement of the film is the overall goal.