Do I need to understand music?

I think the answer to this question would depend upon the kind of music you are listening to. If you are listening to a popular song with a lyric in a language you know, then the question just seems irrelevant.
But if you are listening to classical music (called art music today), particularly the North Hindustani variety, then perhaps the question does need to be answered.
Let us try an analogy : I watch cricket ( like most Indians) and enjoy it. I have been watching it through my whole life, and have seen it changing over the years in its form, from Test matches to one day games to the current 20-20 version. I understand most of the rules of the game (may not be as much as the players and the umpires though, but it doesn’t matter!). I enjoy sharing memories of great matches and moments with friends who are equally into the game. I know the past great players and current players of most teams, upcoming schedules of the games, underlying politics in the game etc.etc. So in short, “ I follow Cricket”.
When it comes to Tennis, well, the familiarity of the sport ends at Wimbledon. That one event which you watch every year (Sawai Gandharva of tennis?). Down to football, I don’t think I have watched one whole game of football. Of course there are those who “ Follow” and hence enjoy these sports…
So let us slightly change the question: Do I follow Hindustani Music?
Hindustani music in particular makes very little use of words and lyrics (not at all in case of instrumental music). So nothing is really expressed in a language you know. So where do you find the Song? And enjoyment?
Music has its own language. Hindustani music is highly codified, in the sense that it is set to specific forms, and follows certain rules and guidelines. That makes it quite explainable, without actually referring to a particular artist.
So understanding music really boils down to making oneself familiar with these. And that is easy. And that is what we will do in the following pages. Topic by topic. Rule by rule.
So start “ following” Hindustani music, and the enjoyment of listening will follow. Give it some time!

2 thoughts on “Do I need to understand music?

  1. We have an absolution of thought amongst our plebians, too. A certain someone who knows his taste, and then the horde that listen to it because he does and thence when they each leave the coccoon of that ‘guru’, anything similar sounding and unheard of becomes the precipice of music. This is malice. And it’s a nascent reek, a very unpleasant way of things.
    I’m very glad for those who will follow your pages closely.

    1. Hi,
      I would not use such strong words! Let us not discount the common listener….
      To reach a level where you can really appreciate music ( or any art form for that matter), one has to go through the stages of awareness first and then acquaintance…and it is indeed a long process, particularly if unaided. And I believe it is the responsibility of the performing artist to provide this aid.
      I will perhaps write a separate post on the subject…

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