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A brief look back at musical trends and what it may be leading up to.

To take a look at the modern music scene, is to peer into the vast and ever changing opinion of the public and the whims of what is and is not entertaining. Coming into the new millennium, it`s easy to pass off a diverse world of new sound and a generation of young listeners as a single scene of music with all the stereotypes, stereo-hype, political affiliations, and future "VH1 behind the music" shows waiting to happen. But also to look at the modern music scene and the trends it leaves behind may tell us what we can expect more and less of in this new era of music.

The preceding decade of music left us with a spectrum of sound and new approach toward what is real in music. In the early nineties, the youth of America parted ways with the cheese hair metal, and new wave acts of the eighties. We found new voices in that of Kurt Cobain (Nirvana),

Chris Cornell, (Sound Garden), Eddie Vetter (Pearl Jam), and many other patriots of the Seattle super sub culture, that became house hold names everywhere in America. The birth and death of mainstream alternative left like it had arrived, unexpected.

Somewhere before hip hop, there was rap, but the nineties was the decade for transition of rap into hip hop. Again people seemed to see through the manufactured acts like Vanilla Ice, and M.C. Hammer, and it gave way to the rise of Ice T, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Warren G, etc, etc, etc.

The image of the rap act had evolved into something harder, more realistic to the urban culture, and furious to the world.

And toward the end of this very split musical decade, there was a hybrid that had formed. The rap rock hybrid was coined when Limp Bizcuit came busting onto the scene under the wings of Power Rock band Korn. Soon they`d be standing high on their own two feet, with others behind them. In the meantime, bands like Rage Against The Machine, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sublime had found their own way of working very rap like styling into a world of rock, punk, funk, Dub, Hip Hop, and hardcore. With so many genres of music becoming apparent toward the current music scene, you knew was only a matter of time, before businessman decided to start building bands instead of signing them. In come a new fleet of attractive teenage boys and girls with enough sex appeal to kill a small mammal, and keep people infatuated with their catchy songs about love and dancing long enough to discover an entire demography of fans, who can`t live without the floaty tunes in their life.

At the end of this entire decade, one more era of music became apparent in the controversial hip-hop artist Eminem, who found his way onto the music scene after his second album which took everyone by surprise with tracks that seemed violent and angry. Some people attribute his success to the boy band era that preceded him, because he has become the anti hero and people like that. Others claim he represents a part of our nation that consists of angry kids that identify with such an extreme style of music.

In the end what can we expect in the future? More of the same might be a good answer right now. The way things look, each music has always represented a specific market of buyers, and although the scene as of late seems to have been mainly the same artists over and over, don`t be surprised when the cycle of rebellion repeats. When boy bands die out, and more white rappers join the mainstream scene, rock just never sounds the same and new sounds come up from the underground to stunt it all, that`s when things seem to be the most interesting.

Raga Gaud Sarang - An Exegesis

A discussion on Raga Gaud Sarang is presented in this essay and the development fortified by a smorgasbord of representative sound clips. Let M = shuddha and

Gaud Sarang employs all the seven shuddha swaras plus the teevra madhyam. "Gaud Sarang" is a misnomer because there is no trace whatsoever of the Sarang Raganga anywhere within driving distance of its zipcode (this is obvious to all except the boneheaded few who insist on seeing 'Sarang' in its fold). To dispel the Sarang affiliation suggested by the poor choice of nomenclature, some musicians refer to it as "Din ki Bihag" (the daytime counterpart of Bihag), and a careful examination of its innards reveals that there is good justification for this viewpoint.

Raga Gaud Sarang has a vakra build and falls to the class of 'abstract' rAgas. By "abstract" we mean that it is not a scalar rAga, amenable to reconstruction with elemental Aroha-avarohi phrases. (Note: I use the term "scalar rAga" with considerable hesitation, for it is, at first glance, an oxymoron. After all, a scale does not a rAga make. A better term would be "linear rAga.") There is much more to an "abstract" rAga than merely piecing together and sequencing a string of tonal clusters, no recourse to a quick-and-dirty cookbook recipe for the interlocking gestures that give the rAga its body and character. These considerations render apprehension of its nature challenging. Nevertheless, like other proximate melodies such as Kedar, Hameer and Nand, identification of Gaud Sarang presents no difficulty to the layman since it advertizes a distinct signature to latch on to. In his well-known work, Raganidhi , Subbarao observes that there is no Carnatic equivalent of Gaud Sarang but that certain sanchAras of Shankarabhanaram resemble the rAga. As an example he cites the Tamil kriti Muddu kumarayyane.

The definitive swara cluster of Gaud Sarang is:

S , G R M G

The rest of the rAga is built around this kernel. In so doing, elements of other rAgas such as Bihag and Bilawal are invoked. Let us briefly examine the rAga lakshaNAs.

S, G R M G, G M G P, [P] M G, S [P] M G

This Gaud-inspired tonal byte in the poorvAnga carries the soul, or if you will, the G-spot of Gaud Sarang. The intonation of the signature - S, G R M G - from the rishab to madhyam to gandhar, mediated by a graceful arc, is followed by a characteristic intonation of the pancham (shaken, but not stirred), encapsulated in square brackets above to indicate its special handling. The avarohi slide P M G concludes with a nyAsa on the gandhAr. The ucchAraNa of the madhyam is crucial: the swara is rendered deergha (elongated) but falls well short of nyAsa. These nuanced melodic behaviours are very difficult to convey through the written word but the audio segment will serve to illuminate them. The pancham is strong, a nyAsa swara.

P, P S", S" D P M G, R G R M G, P, R S

This tonal sentence outlines in broad strokes the uttarAnga conduct and the avarohi biochemistry.

A sample chalan is now formulated:

S, G R M G, M G P, [P] M G

G M G P, PNDN m [P] M G, S [P] M G

G M P N S" R" N S" D P M G, PDPP S" R" S", D N m [P] M G

Obiter dicta: As in the case of other abstract rAgas, a wide variety of supporting phraseology is observed. Some musicians approach the tAr shaDaj via a Bihag-like G M P N, S" whereas others adopt a P S" type of launch. The downward contour S D P M G follows a grazing locus reminiscent of Bilawal. A P, R S often brings to conclusion many a melodic gesture. Note that the ucchAraNa of P, R S , while it looks similar to the P (G)R S of the Kalyan Raganga, discloses its own subtle and distinct punctuation (hinted at by a comma following the pancham). This last construction is actively relegated or shunned by some musicians (the Maihar turkeys, for instance).

The values assigned to N and m are variable. This ambiguity often appears unsettling to the outside observer but existence of this "benign anarchy" without injury to the core idea is characteristic - and a strong suit - of Indian tradition, musical and otherwise. The teevra madhyam is not central to Gaud Sarang but its presence is necessary to complete the picture. The kernel of Gaud Sarang is universally recognized: how one goes about developing it is a matter of Gharanic affiliation, individual taste and capacity. In heavily vakra rAgas, the rAga structure is sometimes relaxed in faster movements, more so in Khayal renditions. This allowed slackening (the term employed is "shithil") is almost always in the avarohi direction - a quick S"NDPMGRS or S"DPMGMRS is not unheard of in Gaud Sarang or Kedar. Finally, the komal nishAd may occasionally make a cameo appearance as a vivAdi swara in phrases such as S", D n D P .

In the foregoing ruminations, I have touched upon the high points, leaving out the idiosyncrasies and ancillary details. The audio segment to follow will provide a good opportunity to fill in the gaps.

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