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Pop Music Biography: Introducing Hoku

Information on the interesting life and career of popular singing sensation Hoku. Tips on songs, pictures and her romance.

Hoku is one of today s up and coming solo artists. She s the daughter of the legendary Don Ho, made famous by his song Tiny Bubbles. As a child, she often sang with her father on stage, the only one of his ten children to do so. She s the seventh child, and claims that she often stole the spotlight from her father. Her first solo was at age eleven, on Whitney Houston s And I Will Always Love You.

Hoku was born and raised in Hawaii. Indeed, her name means Star in Hawaiian. Her musical influences include her father, Michael Jackson, and Crystal Lewis, among others. What attracts her to these musicians is their use of raw emotion in their music, which is what she says she strives to attain in her own music.

Today, Hoku is an 18-year-old solo singer, made popular by her single Another Dumb Blonde. The single appeared in Nickelodeon s movie, Snow Day, back in February of 2000. Everyone who knows the singer claims that she is anything but a dumb blonde. Also, the day after the first time the song appeared on MTV s TRL (Total Request Live), it was a Top Ten hit. Since then, she s recorded a self-titled CD which has been released. It s available at many top name music clubs and at music stores all over the country, showing off Hoku s instantaneous popularity.

Indeed, Hoku already challenges many established singers. She s already been nominated for the Young Star Award, which is bestowed on well-known and popular singers. Also, she s appeared in concert with very famous groups, such as 98 degrees at places like Disney World. She s also a member of the One Name Club, a club exclusively for famous people known by only one name (she dropped her last name when she moved to Los Angeles to record her CD). This fall, she modeled in Tommy Hilfiger s fashion show alongside Mary J. Blige, Mandy Moore, LFO and TLC, a real honor.

One thing that really sets Hoku apart from her colleagues is her faith. She s a devout Christian, and says her faith is second most important only to her family. Because of this, she prefers to get involved with a younger crowd, because she feels that they relate to her more in a girl next door sort of way. Teens see her more as sex symbol, which she really isn t comfortable with.

Some of Hoku s (non-music) favorites include volleyball (both playing it and watching it), snowboarding, and the LA Lakers. Her tastes seem to run to more girlish things, as in various interviews, she named many of her favorite places to shop and gushed over various trends. She also named her favorite superhero and cartoon (Superman and Animaniacs, respectively).

To Hoku, it seems like this whole thing has happened so quickly. She is quoted in one interview as saying After years of work, everything happened in two weeks time. From the way it happened, with her being in her father s shadow, it might seem that way (once she got her record deal). This, however, didn t happen until she was in her freshman year of college. Though she was majoring in business at the time, she signed the contract and became a solo singer. Hoku s music will certainly live on as long as her father s as she is his legendary daughter, the one who follows in HIS legendary footsteps.

Written by Kate Hillard -

The Marwa Matrix (Page 1 of 2)

The mention of Marwa insists on stirring halcyon memories of many youthful evenings spent walking on the Miramar beach in Panjim, lugging Amir Khan's stupendous opus in the corridors of my mind. The shimmering expanse of the Arabian Sea in all its vespertine glory made for an inspiring visual and, lost in this intoxicating ambience, I occasionally allowed myself the fantasy of imagining what it might be like to feel and see Raga from the Himalayan heights of an Amir Khan. I wondered if that great man, too, had likened himself to "a boy playing on the sea-shore, diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of Raga lay all undiscovered before me." Upon conclusion of this reverie, I would walk home, eat a hearty meal and hit the sack. Those were the days when we took pride & joy in leisure. How times have changed. Today, people are at pains to tell us how "busy" their lives are. It is as if they have been charged with re-designing God's f loor plan for the universe.

In this installment devoted to the Marwa group, we will examine its familiar members and unveil some of the lesser known affiliates. A companion feature to follow soon will address the denizens of the "Poorvi Province."

Throughout this discussion, M = shuddha and m = teevra madhyam.

The Marwa-Pooriya-Sohani axis

Marwa is among the ten thATs enumerated by Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande and is characterized by the swara set, S r G m P D N, corresponding to the Carnatic melakartA Gamanasrama. The flagship rAga of this thAT bears commandeers it name but omits the pancham altogether. The same holds true for two other principals of this group - Pooriya and Sohani. The three rAgas maintain a collegial but contrasting melodic dynamic. It is therefore instructive to view them together under the same lens. Here is a marvelous example of the magic of Raga music - the evolution of differences originating from the same scale set through the agency of chalan bheda (melodic contours), ucchAraNa bheda (intonation of swara) and vAdi bheda (relative emphasis of swara). Facility in this sport demands cultivation of appropriate habits of mind and ceaseless reflection. But the game is well worth the candle for the Ananda it brings to the sAdhaka.

The main idea in Raga Marwa is the overwhelming dominance of r and D. This is an apavAda since no consonance exists between r and D; it must have been a genius who sensed the germ of an idea here and brought it to melodic fruition. The definitive tonal sentences are:

D' N' r G r, N' D', m' D' S N' r, S

The points of note in this poorvAnga phrase are the nyAsa on rishab and dhaivat, the langhan (skipping) of the S in both Arohi and avarohi directions, and the alpatva (smallness/weakness) of N.

D, m G r G m D, D m G r

The madhya saptak movement. Marwa typically employs 'khaDA' swaras - a direct and unwavering lagAv, shorn of delicacies and meeNDs (the situation is different in the scale-congruent Raaga Pooriya).

D N r" N D, m D N D S"

The uttarAnga marker where the nishAd is often skipped en route to the shaDaj (Pooriya too shares this lakshaNA, but not Sohani).

That was Marwa in a nutshell. The symbiotic relationship between r and D is affective. Both the swaras are full-blown nyAsa locations, yet bound to one another by an invisible cord: the pull of one is strongly felt when you visit the other.

We now prise open Raga Pooriya, an old rAga with a swara locus identical to Marwa. Most popular accounts distinguish the two based on their vAdi-samvAdi pair: r-D in Marwa and G-N in Pooriya. This is only part of the story. Pooriya employs delicate gestures and special sangatis through which the G-N dominance is realized. It is not simply a matter of switching the vAdi-samvAdi pair. The lakshaNAs of Pooriya are:

N' r G, G r N' D' N', N' m' D' S

The gandhAr is advanced, both r and

G m D N, N (N)m, G; m D-G m G

This tonal phrase represents Pooriya's prANa and packs several key lakshaNAs: the dominance of G , the N-m coupling, and the D-G sangata. There is a measure of subtlety to the intonation soon to be superbly illustrated by Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang."

G m D N D S", N r" N (N)m, G, m D-G m G, r S

Although the N is very strong in Pooriya, it is, like Marwa, often skipped en route to the S. The swoop from N to m is delicious; sometimes it works in the reverse direction as well (

< -- Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang"

Next in line, Raga Sohani. The first-order difference here is that instead of the N'-r-G chalan employed in Marwa and Pooriya, the rishab is skipped and we have a N'-S-G type of chalan. And unlike the other two, Sohani's strength is vested in D and G. Then there are the special gestures. Sohani is an uttarAnga-pradhAna rAga, its essence apprehended in the following sentence:

G m D N S", S"r" S"r" N S" N D, N D-G m G

The nishAd is a required conduit to the tAr S". As in Pooriya, the D-G sangati is also observed but the attack is markedly different. In Sohani the D-G prayoga is initiated from N whereas in Pooriya it is typically lauched from m. Keen attention to these minutiae is vital and cuts to the core of Raga music. Great musicians instinctively recognize such bheda-bhAva even though they may not have the requisite expository skills or the vocabulary to verbalize them.

Everything I have written above is superfluous, for Jha-sahab has magnificently distilled the essence of these three rAgas and packaged it into 6 masterful minutes. We are privileged that someone of his background and calibre is still among the living, and fortunate that the technology now exists for bringing him to a worldwide audience.

Pandit Ramashreya Jha "Ramrang" on the Marwa-Pooriya-Sohani axis -

With that propaedeutic to build upon, it is time get our feet wet.

This quasi-Marwa has been beautifully composed by K. Mahavir. Mahavir Kathak comes from a long line of accomplished classical musicians. His father, Mahadev Prasad Kathak, was associated with Swami Hari Vallabh (after whom the famous annual sammelan in Jullunder takes its name). Lata Mangeshkar: sAnjha bhayi ghara AjA -

In Jha-sahab's exquisite suite, the vilambit bandish set in Roopaka at once reveals the cut of Marwa's jib: joga le Aye tuma Udho-

At the beginning of the next clip Jha-sahab explains the textual import, then sketches his elegantly designed cheez:

gyAna ki tori bAta sunata lAge neeka nA

mere to mana ramey Madhava meN

japa-tapa-sAdhana-guna arpana Shyam charana

'Ramrang' dhyAna dharana ki chalana nA hamana meN

< -- Vasantrao Deshpande

When Vasantrao Deshpande passed away, Bhimsen declared that Marwa had died in Maharashtra. Vasantrao's winsome phirat and spontaneous delivery make for a memorable Marwa -

Anant Manohar Joshi (Antubuwa), a disciple of Balkrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar (the man responsible for bringing Khayal gAyaki to Maharashtra), trained several musicians of eminence among them his son, Gajananrao Joshi. This recording of archival value has an Avartana or two of Antubuwa's Khayalnuma in Jhoomra tAla followed by a traditional cheez attributed to 'Rangile', bolana bina kabahuN (Vasantrao sings this in druta Ektala, so documented by Bhatkhande) -

Amir Khan -- >

The fleet lined up thus far has been of a very high quality. Now please wipe your slate clean and jettison those Marwas. Of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson remarked, "He was not of an age, but for all time." The same is true of Amir Khan's Marwa. It is not merely a performance. It is the ne plus ultra in meditation. What Einstein's General Theory is to scientific thought Amir Khan's Marwa is to musical thought. We must make do with but a snatch here. The traditional piyA more anata des gai'lava in vilambit Jhoomra, followed by guru bina gyAna nA pAve -

Raga Pooriya

Also known as Raat-ki-Pooriya, Pooriya's lakshANAs emerge resplendent in Bhimsen Joshi (the reader is encouraged to recall Jha-sahab's discourse on the subject). Right away in the opening movement we have the elongated N and the N-m sangati, eventually culminating in the sam via N'-r-N'-m'. Both the compositions are traditional: Sadarang's vilambit pyAre de gara lAgi and the druta cheez, ghaDiyAN ginata jAta -

Incidently, Bhatkhande's documented notation for sughara banA shows the sam to be on the rishab but the subsequent movement converges on the mandra nishAd. Recall that Amir Khan's druta cheez in Marwa places its sam on the mandra nishAd but the thrust points to the dhaivat. Now, if ethnopimp A saw Bhatkhande (remember that no ethnopimp has the ability and knowledge to understand much less critique Bhatkhande) he would conclude that the Chaturpandit didn't know his Pooriya from Marwa and publish this 'finding' in an ethnoporn rag. Then, ethnopimp B will refer to A's ejaculate and in a display of tautological genius declare it to be "seminal." Both A and B will then be awarded tenure at their respective schools.

For the uninitiated, the ethnopimp calls himself "ethnomusicologist" and is found loitering in the music departments of universities in Western Europe, America and Canada. The racist term "ethnomusicology" (when did you last hear the music of Beethoven studied under "ethnomusicology"?) refers to the field infested by these worthless parasites masquerading as academics. There are PhD theses, careers and tenure to be had for the asking, for the benevolent Lord expressly created the "third-world" cultures to be a font of rich pastureland for the vultures inhabiting the humanities departments in the West.

Apropos of Indian music, the ethnopimp had once fancied himself as the intermediary between the Ustads and the lay Indian masses, arrogating for himself the onerous task (the proverbial "white man's burden") of explaining to the Indians their own music. Never mind that the titmouse wouldn't recognize swara even if it bit off his (or her) buttcheeks. Alas, things haven't gone quite the way the ethnopimp had hoped. The newer generation of Indians decided it wasn't going to play possum while the ethnopimp peddled his balderdash. Today, the ethnopimp lies in ruins, his family jewels shattered and his head combed at will by even the kindergarten-going Indian child. En passant, as a pleasurable pastime, I propose that Indians fund a 'research' grant to study the ethnopimps and the twaddle they have excreted all these years. A few ethnopimps could be rounded up to be our lab rats. At the end of this study (which ought not to take long - the combined 'knowledge' of all ethnopimps put together can be had for a penny and you'll get some change back) the poseurs can be officially certified for the sewer rats that they are.

Reverting to the topic at hand, Bhatkhande's discourse on Pooriya contains a rare and telling display of emotion. Recall that his magnum opus Hindustani Sangeet Paddhati is in the form of a Socratic dialogue between pupil and master. At one point, Panditji digresses (my translation cannot quite convey the same effect as that in Marathi): Many years ago I heard this rAga from a very famous Musalman gAyak. Believe it or not, for a few moments I was lost to the world. You will not be able to imagine the magnitude of the effect that his music wrought on my person. Because you have not had that kind of anubhava yet and because you have yet to acquire the requisite depth in this field

Bhatkhande must be made compulsory reading for anyone setting out to write anything on Hindustani music. His work is, to put it mildly, "a feast of reason and flow of soul." Finally, he was not a "musicologist" as is commonly cited by the uneducated. Bhatkhande's work encompassed Music. He was a musician, a vAggeyakAra, a shAstrakAra and a vidwAn all rolled into one. He was also a visionary (that much molested word of the dotcom era) with a deep social conscience. "Musicologist" is suggestive of a relatively low-level activity. There is no need at all to seek recourse to inadequate foreign terminology, to describe a phenomenon the Western world is unfamiliar with, when several Indian terms serve the purpose admirably.

These five preceding rAgas form the core from which several other Marwa-thAT melodies derive their genetic material. A study of these fundamentals is sufficient to understand the rest of the menagerie which is, in the main, a consequence of an appropriate combination of the foregoing melodic behaviors.

SankeerNa and joD rAgas have a limited compass. Their lakshaNAs are usually embedded in a heritage composition from which the development is extrapolated. The asthAi and antarA hold the key to these rAgas (hence the term "asthAi-antare ke rAga"). A quick sampler of prachalit and aprachalita rAgas of the Marwa-thAT is presented on the next page. It is assumed that the reader has by now developed a fair degree of familiarity with the driving lakshaNAs. The pace will be brisk and the commentary minimal. Ragas with their Marwa thAT affiliation explicity cited in the header have a counterpart in the Poorvi-thAT (sometimes merely a shared name with no structural commonality) and are addressed in the respective article. In instances where the rAga carries both the dhaivats, one has to draw on ad hoc considerations before assigning the thAT. Bhatkhande often appealed to the rAga's internal structure to decide on the thAT in these instances.

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