Music Divine

It was a lazy Saturday evening, a few years ago, when my father said, “God entered his being and made him write this, this is not a human act.” He was his usual relaxed Saturday-self, pacing slowly around the house listening to Geet Ramayan, written by G. D. Madgulkar, and composed and rendered by Sudhir Phadke.

I was old enough to understand that this was an exaggeration of sorts and I told him so. (Not that I was old enough, but that I understand he meant that this is a divine composition). He did not relent, he insisted that he meant it literally. I relented — the sceptic that I was. The message was important to take note of, I said to myself. Very soon, I was to be a convert to that sort thinking.

Years passed, and my love for Simon & Garfunkel and Paul Simon compositions grew and assumed a near-fanatico-religious status. My musical journey meandered through many valleys.

Yesterday, a smallish Twitter conversation ensued about the concept of divinity in music.

Amit links to his post about “Touch of Divinity” based on this couplet:

दिव्यत्वाची जेथे प्रचिती
तेथे कर माझे जुळती… [YouTube]

He has a different take than the intended meaning of this couplet and is a recommended read (actually, his entire blog is a recommended read, if you don’t already). For me, however, in context of our Twitter talk, this took on a different meaning. I accessed my Marathi encyclopaedia (also known as Mom), about the song and it’s meaning.

Music that make a direct connection to God (and where I use the word God in this post, I do not mean a religious connotation, to what I say here, I mean it as a divine entity – something beyond the known self) is always beautiful. It is beyond human composition. As Paul Simon says in an interview, echoing, what my father said a few years ago, you make a direct connection and you get it. It is your expression, but someone is helping you form it. Does that reduce an artist to just a medium of communication for God? I doubt. If that be true, then any one of could be the divine cellphone. There is more to being the divine cellphone — and I suspect it has to do with your need to express and an inherent skill to communicate.

I have been struggling with my own meaning of art and it’s relationship with artists, trying to understand what role does an artist play in the creation itself.

C. G. Jung defines two modes of artistic creation: psychological and visionary. For the visionary mode he says:

“The experience that furnishes the material for artistic expression is no longer familiar. It is something strange that derives its existence from the hinterland of man’s mind, as it it had emerged from the abyss of prehuman ages, or from a super-human world of contrasting light and darkness. It is a primordial experience which surpasses man’s understanding and to which in his weakness he may easily succumb.”

Is this how beauty comes to being?

Consider:

संधीकाली या अशा, धुंदल्या दिशा दिशा, चांद येई अंबरी
चांद राती रम्य या, संगती सखी प्रिया, प्रीत होई बावरी.

For me, there can be never a better way to express love than this song. My apologies, I dare not translate it. This is a very refined song, an epitome of romantic expression. But refinement is not the characteristic of divine intervention — it can be crude — but it has to be heartfelt and pure, like A Beautiful Prayer.

Oddly enough, where divinity interferes, social morality isn’t a determining factor and even alcohol becomes the metaphor for expressing passion, as in Madhushala. Grossly misinterpreted, though, how does a human compose such a beautiful statement of passion drawing only available experiences from reality?

It may seem that the divine intervention takes away everything from the artist. It is not so. Divine intervention is not like lightening and does not strike randomly. It waits for the right person and the right time.

And if I am wrong, why is beauty and divine art so uncommon?

Update: This Twitter conversation was extended to blogs, with Amit’s post about The Musical Language and Mahendra’s post about What the Hell is Divinity?

Notes & Links:

  • [The interview with Paul Simon is a 56 minute video, and worth a watch — especially if you are Paul Simon fan. If not, skip to the 39th minute, to see his comment about being plugged into a force and being a conduit.]
  • The excerpt from C. G. Jung is taken from the book, “The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature, Carl Gustav Jung, Routledge, ISBN: 9780415304399
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5 thoughts on “Music Divine

  1. Divinity and God are concepts used by people and artists to refer to that which they do not understand. That doesn’t lead me to believe that any such “entity” exists.

    Art is created by the artist. Many great artists express that their creations come from elsewhere, that they only act as a medium, but I take all this with a pinch of salt. There are two reasons I know why this myth is perpetuated: one, not taking credit for your own art elevates you above other selfish mortals, two, humility puts you in the league of other artistic geniuses.

    Any interventions, divine or otherwise, are simply irritating interruptions. The genesis of many great artworks is inspiration, not intervention, and since we do not (yet) understand the source of inspiration, we term it as divine.

    Like

  2. I’m reminded of Douglas Adams Biota.org speech (impromptu at that) where he explains the God metaphor through different examples. One in particular talks about Feng Shui, and how imagining a dragon living in the house would see it as, might give us insights about what’s right/wrong about the place, for the dragon (and this is not necessarily what Adams meant) is just going to be as anthropological as God — and we’ll just be putting us in his shoes, really, if the dragon actually wears shoes, that is, and if one is allowed to enter the house with shoes on.

    I digress. Nothing new.

    But I’m actually sticking to the point: maybe, somewhere, God is that Dragon, we invent to help us better feel the truth that we won’t otherwise?

    Just a thought,
    asuph

    Like

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