a hectic last minute train shuffle brought us back to kolkata from varanasi, where we did the puja to immerse my father’s ashes into the ganga on new year’s eve.
i am overwhelmed. i can’t write about it now, much less even think about making audio from this experience. there was so much sound i wanted to capture but i am beginning to realize that now i think i am going to have to let it go. to filter it and remake it for others to hear somehow.
going there made me realize the ganga is indeed a goddess. every night we were there we watched the aarathi from a boat on the water. never have i felt so thankful to…what? be alive? fulfill my father’s last wishes? be in varanasi? not sure. there is a lot i am not sure about. but thankful nonetheless.
“But at the same time, who would have thought that it would be so intensely satisfying to have your future resolved, to know what you were going to be doing next year and the year after that and so on and so on, until who knows when?…It would be enough; as an alibi for a life, it would do; she would not need to apologize for how she had spent her time on this earth.” Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide
the british museum is holding a huge exhibition of bengali culture until jan 7th. i know so little about what that is. it feels so huge to even begin to understand. even to go to kalighat to ask about dhak lessons feels like a huge undertaking—to be fair i suppose it is, which anyone who has been there would know.
met sound artist bhudaditya chattopadhyay last night. very interesting fellow, doing great work here in kolkata. we talked a lot about audio restoration, soundscape work, and, of course, gear. particularly interesting was hearing the stories of strange collectors and collections. there is a lot of wonderful music here that is being lost, archived haphazardly and outright thrown away. the same issues are at play in egypt, where my friend alfred gamil is trying to revive the song repertoire of the early 20th century. a large collection of cylinders and shellacs were given to the french government a number of years ago, and my naive questions about appropriation and such issues were dismissed by a wave of his hand. he says that archive was the best thing that happened to egyptian music—everything is being stored in climate controlled conditions under high security, but open for all. i wonder what is happening in canada.
i made it. still jetlagged but happy to be back. everything is as i remember it, but way more prosperous. it is obvious that the middle class is growing and has a lot more money. more noise than i remember as well.
yesterday there was a concert of folk music from various regions of bengal. it was really quite amazing, unfortunately i didn’t quite get where everything was from—the bengali was too formal for me to catch everything. further details available as they come to light. of particular interest was the chhauu dancing—unbelieveable costumes, music. backflips. really. looking forward to seeing more.
i am avoiding packing. i keep remembering why i’m going to india.
so i made some music from jaal mala (garland of water) which is a piece on quell that i made about my dad.
listen here. its my new year’s gift to you.
i feel better.
apologies for the lack of posts.
i’m heading to india on saturday, to put my father’s ashes to rest. not yet sure all that will be involved but the main focus is to go to varanasi to put the ashes in the ganges there.
i will also be doing lots of recording of environmental sound, taking some lessons in dhak (the bengali puja drum), and meeting some sound artists and contemporary art practitioners in kolkata.
i’ll be keeping the blog semi updated during this time.
upcoming for the new year: various projects (audio art, video, net) and woodshedding to create new works. dance performances, school shows, etc. oh yeah, getting married.
finally, there is a new improv uploaded, an outtake from the bad monkey bad bad monkey CD.
happy new year.
many of you interested in percussion music may know john wyre, formerly of nexus fame. i am sorry to say that he passed away on october 31 at his home in st john’s, newfoundland.
there are better people than me qualified to eulogize him, but i did have the chance to work with him as a member of maza mezé a few years back. we commissioned a piece from him and recorded a number of songs for our “secrets moon magic” CD for CBC.
he was an amazing man, with an incredible outlook on life, and music. the first lyrics to the piece he wrote for us was “the joy of living/begins by giving/yourself away”.
rest in peace, john wyre.
i’ve been thinking about improvising. and trying it out. technique is one thing. commitment another. i have trouble with the second. i think in improvising commitment comes first and only then can technique flow.
i’ll keep trying.
finally got around to updating the site. cbc radio’s outfront made a short documentary about me and my world music life (thanks to producer laurence stevenson) and its up for your listening pleasure here.