’Music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence, and silence is full of music’’
said Marcel Marceau.
Marcel was a French mime artiste and was the world’s most famous mime who created ‘Bip’, the white-faced clown.
Marceau has performed all over the world and spread L'art du silence meaning the ‘Art of silence’.
He respected silence and considered it as an art.
Is silence full of music?
I am not sure if many will agree with this.
For a moment, think of trees; think of mountains; think of snowfall; think of sculptures; think of a painting.
Do these speak? Do these make sounds?
But can we not agree that all these are musical?
Most of us read books(hopefully!).
What happens when we read?
Are we not in our own world full of silence?
Don’t we enjoy those moments?
Are'nt those moments musical?
Silence is poetic.
Silence is musical.
Silence gives us eternal happiness.
Silence is blissful.
Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘’In the attitude of silence, the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth’’.
Gandhiji’s quest for Truth and his experiments with Truth are well known (though J Krishnamurthi would say that we do not ‘experiment’ with Truth and that we only experience it).
In the Hindu philosophy, there is a concept of ‘Dakshinamoorthy’.Dakshinamoorthy is one of the forms of Lord Shiva and is called as the Mouna Guru(Guru of Silence!).
He is supposed to be the Guru of the ultimate knowledge and understanding.
Dakshinamoorthy is in the form of abstract yogic meditation brimming with eternal bliss.
Symbolically, it means we acquire eternal knowledge when we are in a state of silence.
AruNagirinaathar-who has composed many verses/songs on Lord Muruga like Thiruppugazh, Mayil Viruththam, Seval Viruththam and whose work Kandar Anthaathi was quoted in the post on ‘Nam thananam thana’(ILaiyaraaja-the beautiful musician), sang about this silence in two different works of his.
In ‘Kandar Anubhoothy’, he says ‘The Lord asked me to shut up and not to talk, but I do not understand what it means’- சும்மா இரு சொல் அற என்றலுமே, அம்மா பொருள் ஒன்றும் அறிந்திலனே .
while in ‘Kandar Alankaaram’ – a later work he says ‘You let me lose everything and let me go into the boundary of silence.’
எல்லாம் இழந்து சும்மா இருக்கும் எல்லையில் என்னை செல்ல விட்டவா!
All these people realised the importance of silence and celebrated silence.
One of the best music composers in the world also celebrates silence.
He loves silence. He reveres silence. He worships silence.
We see this not only in most of his songs but also in his BGM in movies.
He would leave meaningful pauses and moments of silence that would convey more than what an instrument or voice would have conveyed.
Like Marceau, he believed that music and silence combine strongly and that silence is full of music.
And this is the reason for his being a spontaneous musician because silence leads to tranquility and tranquility leads to spontaneity.
It is ‘Mounamaana Neram’ from ‘Salangai Oli’(1983).
Interestingly, it is based on a raga called Pahaadi.
I am saying ‘interestingly’ because Pahaad in Hindi means the Mountain and can there be any better place for silence than the Mountains?
Pahaadi is a Hindustani Raag and is very close to the Maestro’s heart.
The structure is : sa ri2 ga3 pa dha2 pa dha2 Sa in the Arohanam and Sa ni3 dha2 pa ga3 ma1 ga3 ri2 Sa ni3 sa.
Another version is-pa dha2 sa ri2 ga3 pa dha2 Sa/Sa ni3 dha2 pa ma1 ga3 ri2 sa ni3 dha2 pa dha2 Sa.
Please note that there are many versions of the structure and I have given just two versions.
Like most of the Hindustani Raags, alien swaras are widely used in Pahaadi.
In fact, the use of such swaras add to the beauty of the Raag.
To be more specific, the ga2 and dha1 give a beautiful flavour to the Raag.
This Raag-esp.in film music-is confused with Sankarabharanam or Mohanam and at times Sudhdha Saaveri also.
If Sudhdha Saaveri is sung in madhyama Shruti, we get Raag Pahaadi.
This Raag is romantic, gives a sense of longing, is joyful and is painful!
So many emotions in one Raag?
As mentioned earlier, Maestro has used this Raag prolifically and has given all the emotions mentioned (in fact even more!).
Let us now look at the composition of the day.
We see the niceties of silence in the prelude and the pallavi.
As we hear the bells and the guitar we feel the soft, gentle breeze. This gathers impetus as we hear the humming of Janaki that sounds serene and stirring.We discover the real meanings of quietude and tranquility.
The Pallavi emerges from the silence with splendour. It is mellow, exquisite, and imperial conjuring up a silhouette of silence.
In the first interlude, the piquant flute crisscrosses the spoken and the unspoken. It traverses through the arc of the raga’s deliciousness.
It is like the birds chattering their ditties.
The beginning of the Charanam is like a mild fountain.It becomes a lovely musical fountain that gathers momentum finally flowing like a quiet stream.
We see the nuances of the Raga in this stream.
The second interlude is ornate. It shows the varied textures of the raga. The flute interspersed with the other musical instruments plays with sensitivity.
It shows us the contrastive colours of the raga.
It is weighty and zestful. It is innocent and sharp.
It is languorous and lucid. It is straight and circumfluent.
The composition gives us an admixture of feelings-Joy,Pain,Romance,Longing.
What is elusive and deceptive resolves into crystal clearness.
Music full of silence and silence full of music.
That is Tranquility !
மெளனமான நேரம் அவர் இசை இருந்தால் போதும்!