University of California - San Diego
Melding Eastern and Western Classical Music
What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
The first beats of the tabla played, and my body relaxed. I closed my eyes to absorb the rhythm, then I started to sing. The interweaving of melodies and micro-tunes required deep focus; I needed to block out all distractions. The tensions from my day faded as the beats and melodies infused my brain. Just like every time I sing classical Indian music, I entered a semi-meditative state, and a deep bliss took over. It felt like five minutes, but I opened my eyes to discover a full hour had passed. My cross-legged limbs ached, but my mind was at ease.
By contrast, when I play violin or piano, my brain accelerates into overdrive. Classical Western music requires each note be played precisely, every tempo maintained meticulously. At the end of a practice session, I find my breathing is labored. It is hard work, just as with Indian music, but in a different sense. After playing a Baroque clavier, I feel the exhilaration of accomplishment, with a little smile on my face, knowing that I’ve achieved something most people cannot, something that requires tremendous effort.
Indian classical music is my nightly glass of wine, to calm me down and release me from my problems. Western classical music is my morning cup of coffee, to elevate my...
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