Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Someone’s music, someone else’s noise

It is said that what one considers to be good music can be just noise to someone else. I cannot appreciate traditional folk songs even if they are of my own tribe. Typically a verse has 2 lines and the music is repeated throughout the song. There can be several verses but the tune is the same and each verse is repeated over and over before going to the next. So, even if the first verse sounds pleasing, one can get irritated due to over-repetition. There is no chorus, no variation, and usually the lyrics of the last verse go, “Our song is over, our song is over”. I also cannot understand why female playback singers of Bollywood have to shrill out songs. Homecoming music videos at times look like staged (faked) spirituality. However, I’m gradually learning to appreciate and respect music types which do not delight my musical taste buds.
One significance of traditional folk songs that I was told by my Aunty goes like this: It’s from a story. There was once a man who realized that he has not been good to his wife. But it’s not in our Naga nature to express apology or affection easily and openly. So, he composed a folk song which says, “One cannot change one’s ugly looks, but one can change one’s bad character”, He changed and since then, he remained loving and caring to his wife. Folk songs are a medium of communicating things which cannot be expressed in normal conversations. My critic of the music remains but I’m able to appreciate it better after hearing that story.
There may be a guy who thinks that everyone likes Kenny Rogers ( I know one such guy). If there's anyone who doesn't, he/she ought to love Rogers. When I was in Patkai, the vocational students used to have Christmas concerts. But even if they sing difficult songs and classical music of the highest quality, very few would show up to attend the shows. When a band shows up which sings popular gospel or secular songs, it’s always houseful. Now, someone may blame the musical shallowness and the ignorance of the crowd. But will that be a wise thing to do?
There seems to be frictions between traditional and western music, and popular vs. ‘serious’ music. The churches in Nagaland are trying hard to promote indigenous music. Western secular music is thought by many to be a tradition destroyer, of low moral and a rebellion breeder. Instead of imitating the west, therefore, we should bring out songs that are authentic to our culture and tradition. However, this does not go down well with the young ones who are totally hooked to western music and reinforced by the media attraction. Some people try to reconcile the two through fusion music.
In my personal opinion, it wouldn’t be good to make a big fuss about the argument between western and traditional. We will always look for what we love to listen and will produce what we would like to listen. Traditional music when created well will attract people to it. We don’t love all that is western anyway. Also we can produce very good music which belongs to the western genre without the guilt of imitation. A time may come when the west would borrow our tune.
Now between popular and ‘serious’ music; by ‘serious’ music, I refer to the music literates and I didn’t say popular vs. classical because the ‘serious’ musicians/music lovers are not confined to the classical music. If I have to generalize, the ‘serious’ music people look at popular music as cheap and shallow while the pop music people look at the former as ‘boring’. Music appreciation is a very subjective matter and there is no authoritative judge to decide the case which is better than the other. Appreciation deepens and matures with knowledge but it would be unreasonable to try to educate the masses to ‘read and write’ music. For a farmer who returns home from a day’s work and turns on the radio, the local songs serve the purpose of his entertainment.
This brings us to the purpose of music. If I remember correctly, Ronald Pen talks of three levels of listening (though they are not tightly compartmentalized levels). An example of the first level is going to a concert and simply enjoying the show. The second level is where the listener appreciates the technical aspects of songs like the chord progression, harmony, keys, flats and sharps etc. The third level is where the music inspires and transforms the listener. Music can be used for meaningful purposes at all levels: relaxation to the farmer after work, stimulating creativity in the composer, and bringing people to surrender their lives to the Lord. This life transforming capability of even imperfect music has to be acknowledged. Also we should develop our skills, so that we present our best for God’s glory. In all cases we should respect and provide space to thrive, music that we have no ears for.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Church offering

Yesterday in the church, I took out my wallet as the ushers came for the offering. I selected a Rs. 10 note but as I was pulling it out, a Rs. 100 note was trying its best to come out......But I pushed it back in, "you are too big for this".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Never tired of love

For a thousand years We've been singing about love 
If it were on another theme 
Would have we endured? 
Much less, enjoyed?
Why does the heart hurt 
When we are unloved? 
Why can't we just ignore it And move on? 
What's there in being loved?
It's a sad thing That lost loves become branded as Infatuations 
When it was love after all!

First ride

Dad and I boarded a line bus from BOC, Kohima. We did not get seats, so we held on to the posts as we swayed with the winding road. That was how we reached Mao gate. I was on my maiden journey to Imphal: to become a doctor! Again we did not get proper seats in another line bus from Mao to Imphal. We squeezed in the driver’s cabin. There was a Manipuri boy who was roughly trying to push me off my seat. We stared at each other and I showed him my fist asking if he wants to have it. Nothing happened and we reached Imphal without a punch being thrown. We searched for Keduwe, my dad’s ex-student. He received u sand took us shopping where I bought my ragging shoes and shirts. Kohima to Imphal, July 2000

A conversation with Mang

Once I was telling our music secretary Mr. Mang about my past experiences as a song leader of the Imphal-ICEU. I told him that there were times when I did OK and also times when I had flopped big time. He instantly pointed out that if it was done for God’s glory, there is nothing as ‘flop’. 
He was right. As we have come to the end of our session in the EU committee, we may look back and see that we could have done better. We tend to regret at the end when nothing can be changed anymore. Failures are reminders that we are human beings. Also they equip us to do better in the future.
RIMS, Imphal

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The best part

The best part of love is
Just before its beginning


These days Everyone seems to have some history 
And I'm looking for someone without history :-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

When you write me a song

When you write me a song
Don’t explain everything
For if you’ve said it all
What’s left for the Imagination?

Lanyi River

You lucky fellows
You who are bound for Meluri
That you get to cross the Lanyi River
Poor us who are Pfutsero bound
That after having come so close
We have to turn away again
Without having the Lanyi River
Flow underneath our feet

Tiisozho omakiirii

Pünhan pünhapüsa
Bavüdopün bavüdopüsa
O kühüzhohi tazüzo
Lüba kümo pülüno
O khü mozono
Pütühi tamha voritayo

Ch: Niepo hapono
Tüsozhohi omakürü seno hüte
N kükhrü mu n küku süno
Tüsonha n yi thibazote

O khriemi O ciekrozü
Onüphaküho thibazori
Dipünhan ciedzü zü
Kükho toshi semo
‘ri no a cüküyi nha
Hapon hanüsa n cievorite

Br: Tüso tüzü
tüna türü
Bayie Khutho
mütü n belü
Niepo Jisu

After the feeling is gone


After the feeling is gone 
Help me to stand 
After the laughter is gone 
Help me to still rejoice 
After the strength is gone 
Help me to hold on to you 
What is it to praise you in good times? 
What is it to give in times of abundance? 
What is it to love those who love you? 
But Lord, help me to do the unnatural

Renewal (More depth, more power)

Ch: More depth, more power
We long for renewal
That you may reign in us
Once again

Shallow lives
Walking like a blind man
While the ground sinks beneath our feet
Leaves blown in the wind
Swayed by opinions and hunches

Backs break
And knees begin to shake
Under a heavy load of worries
So weak to stand and fight
We are in need of your power

Pfutsero Kühü

Pfutsero thunopüko
Kobi Chemüri teno
Ova krati bayo
Pfutsero miponeko
Town mütsulü künguno
Tas Ludo khiliba

Ch: Pfutsero town lü kühü
Olü krokrü bayo
Pfutsero town tümüko
‘ri olü lümü bayo

Pfutsero kühümiko
Rüna kükrekre zori
Püthin ciekro pü kümha
Chokri, Khuzha, Sapu
Sekükremon küzüve
Mhaküve thibazote

Pfutsero town sü züve
Glory Peak, Prayer Hill
Tüthi kümüle küzüve
Niepü, sübo, nhakümüjo
Tükhra mümüsatho
Mücümüri ri krophi

Let this love happen

I barely know you
You barely know me
We aren’t properly introduced
But I want to know you
And let you know me
Heaven only knows what’ll happen
I need all the help
God, Send legions of angels
Provide the right circumstances
Let all universe stand still
For this love must happen God,
Let this love happen