'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menosical [men-oh-sick-ul]; being in a condition of chant

One of the great joys of life is sound.  Particularly sound put together in such a way as to become what is termed as music.  This has a very wide range.  A great excitement in my 20's was attending a Steve Reichmann concert at the Edinburgh Festival where he showcased his clapping music.  Wow.  Since then just about anything goes!

Truth is though, Nature provides most of our music.  If we have the ear for it.  That's the thing, isn't it.  Not all music is available to, or understood by, all ears.  It's what makes for diversity and cultural difference, within a society as well as between societies.

I alluded to my preferences in 'menomonocanticle'.  There I used the term classical in its generic, loose sense - that it should be music of some higher cultural standing than boy bands and paper dolls. The thing is, not all modern music of the popular variety is to be tossed away.  There is Jethro Tull and David Bowie; Jean-Michel Jarre and John Williams.  Of course Rodgers & Hammerstein must be mentioned.

My heart, though, sits most comfortably in the early music range.  From the mystique of Hildegarde von Bingen to the baroque and beginnings of Renaissance. After that it all gets a bit too schmalzy.  Even Mozart tends to make my skin shrink.  Maybe from overdosing.  There are exceptions, as in the popular category.  Chopin, for example.  Then we get to Stravinsky and Rachmaninov.  The Modern Tallis and Arvo Pärt.  So actually, (if watching closely), you will see that the part of music that I most avoid is the part formally classified as 'classical'!!  Heaven help me, beyond the start of the 5th symphony, all else of the era tends to leave me indifferent.

But put on a plain chant or a bouree, ...pphhhttt!... Gone.  I have had the great good fortune to be blessed with a voice and have been involved in church and public choirs focusing on early music - and the singing of it brings a level of joy even higher than the listening.

Vedic chanting has this same effect upon me.  It too must be precise, tonally correct and accurate in pronunciation.  Whilst much is gained from the listening, it is the involvement in the chanting that brings greatest solace and focus.  Without doubt these sacred musics open up parts of our being otherwise left dormant.

Here's the thing though.  Listening to Nature does this too.  Bird calls are the obvious choice for demonstrating this.  They are not the only offerings, but are the most available to maximum people.  It does not take much to understand that a great deal of early music was in fact inspired by those very sounds.  Drums of course represent the pulse of life, the beat of the heart. Rattles and shakers, the rustlings of the undergrowth and treetops.  Think, now, on all the varieties of pipes in the world.  Just using the lips and mouth for whistling, indeed, would have started the next level...  All to emulate the sounds most clear in Nature.  The Birds.
"We can sort this out peaceably -  coucal to coucal..."

As I write this, outside my window the air is alive with music.  Cicadas set a high-pitched 'violin' frantic and urgent in its need to bring everything to season.  These are backed by the 'caaa-caaa' of the crows, now training this year's young to flight.  Bulbuls clear their 'treble recorder'-like throats in a deep and penetrating warble as pretty as any a robin and the pied wagtails add their staccato flutes to accent this, joyful, playful, sharp.  An occasional sunbird passes with a whisper of pecorino and over them all fly the Black Kites playing the haunting, melancholy cellos… "shrreeeeee, squeeeeee, weeeeee".  The pigeons sit like the timpani, awaiting their part in the piece.  "Doo, doo ddoooo-woooo".  Then there are the soloists, the Bharadwaj Coucal with his "koooohEL!  koooohEL!" and the trilling harmony of the Golden Oriels.

Even the clatter bang of traffic to the hotel features in this symphony.   That's how I incorporate and overcome the "kadunk thunk" of the grating right beside the window.  It's music.  Modern and harsh.  But let's call it music.


  1. Oh, to be able to think of traffic noise as music!
    How wonderful that you were blessed with a voice, Yam. Mine is quite dreadful, high-pitched and unable to carry a tune. When I was going to church, I sat in the front row, so that no one was injured by the full thrust of my squeak.
    My two brothers can sing. My sister and I cannot. We could clear the house when we were doing the dishes and "singing" together!
    Luv, K

  2. Hari OM
    ...but it's YOUR music, Kay, coming from the heart. Folk just have to adjust their listening equipments! &*>

  3. I'm so glad you're an early music fan too, Yam. I too adore plain chant and polyphony. Indeed I can cope with most things except modern atonality. :-)

  4. Hari OM
    Am listening to Spem Im Alium even as I type...... gone. ...


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