ESSENCE OF PRIMORDIAL SOUND

ESSENCE OF NADA – PRIMORDIAL SOUND INTO PRACTICE

When we are born, we relate to the sound. We relate to the touch, smell, emotions, motions and audio-visual registration. We know that these elements appear as decoding tools that evolved long before the words formed out of the primary core – sound. The words that decorates to form a sentence, more or less can be assumed as a compiled refinement of e-motions. Therefore words sit in the secondary mold to cast a spell on the multiplication of diverse differentiation. Gradually humans developed these patterns of lingua franca to highlight the coding system of communication evolving from the sonic space. The distribution of these compact word patterns had been influenced by geographical and cultural palettes, within the umbrella of shifting pigmented civilizations. But in the midst of lingual environment what is the role of sound? How can we discover the essence of primordial sound – Nada in our practice and understanding of music? Many scholars have already interpreted words and notations of sound in myriad textual frames. However to proceed further I will illustrate more on the essence of sound that touched through my visual, performative and performance practice in the chapters of my artistic growth.

My toddler days were nourished with the sensory filaments of sound through music and the intricacies of rhythm. It was far different than the modern day electrified gazettes that are condensed with screens to touch and type. Sound of Vedic hymns, chants from the Buddhist Gompa, Sunday morning bells from the nearby church and soothing azan resonating throughout the sky, painted an esoteric environment around the vicinities. Then there was the home atmosphere that magnified story telling sessions, sound of common fireplace, aromatic sound of cooking and the sound of affinity among neighbours. These sounds were the primordial space before words demented my being, by refining and defining the queer world of differences through language, customs, compartmental branding in the name of religion, taboos and cultural razors. What was so appealing about such audible colours?

Being amplified by this sonic space, the creative growth of mine often came up with questions, identifying the body of sound. How would one look into the formalistic feature of sound? Is it possible for us to visually experience the tonal frequency of sound? How can the audible-tonal mood be visually preconceived? These questions may be lyrically answered through an enriching excerpt from the poem – The Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson :-

“ ——

I chatter over stony ways,

In little sharps and trebles,

I bubble into eddying bays,

I babble on the pebbles.

——–”

(4th stanza)

Tennyson’s poem – The Brook, has a phonetic note towards the depiction of sonic velocity. His verses catch the tonal frequency in lucid typographic scales perceiving a dynamic flow of sound. This poem attempts to record a visual interpretation of audible perumbulation that this native stream performs. Would it be appropriate to express that Tennyson explores the primordial sound –Nada, while recognizing the suchness of experience?

Nada is the Sanskrit word for “sound,” and meditating on the inner sound means nada yoga, also indicates to the sound of silence. Coincidently in Spanish nada means “nothing.” It is understood as a primordial sound, being the essence of life and that which resonates in everything. Nada Yoga system dissects the sound of music into two categories: internal music, anahata, and external music, ahata. The seat of internal music is the heart chakra area (anahata), that hosts the beats of life form and receives the subtle sounds, silent to the mundane ear to hear although one can listen to those in depth. We also have one of the valuable philosophical treatises, known as Sama Veda that represents the rapture and devotion to sound in spiritual practice. Sama Veda is the third scriptural understanding along with Rig, Yajur and Atharva; it is described here that “Sapta Swara” or seven notes (Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni similar to Western- Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti) were derived from the sound of non-human humane species in their appropriate season. A table below draws a comparison of the seven notes and it’s associations, according to the ancient text of music– Naradiya Shiksha (1.5.3; 1.5.4)

Name in Sama

Music

Symbol

Sama Veda

Svara

Bird/animal

Sound associated

Madhyama

Ma

svarita

heron

Gandhara

Ga

udatta

goat

Rishabha

Ri

anudatta

bull

Shadja

Sa

svarita

peacock

Nishadha

Ni

udatta

elephant

Daiwatha

Dha

anudatta

horse

Panchama

Pa

svarita

Cuckoo

These seven notes are complimenting the external flow of music and also has the possibilities to enter the internal space of sound. There is also “rhythm” that accompanies the rambling notes to keep on the dialogue of sound in its vibration and resonance

In today’s world textual informations on sound of music are in abundance that we can register in our knowledge bank and all the key words are just click away, ready to be captured through the web-net tools. My relation to sound through rhythm and notes pass through transitional phase more aligned to practice and experiencing. The childhood lullabies, rustle of the Bamboo trees, smell of the pine tree saps and sound of dew drops, ringing flow of mountain springs and roar of water falls, the morning and evening walks through the green meadows; all these were inspirations to explore beyond the conventional frame. To detect the inner faculty (primordial essence) there is this strong feeling growing in me to excavate the tactile quality of sound. How can I reach through such an element? It is obvious for me to turn my attention towards construction of sculpture incorporating the unconventional matter, mass or channels. Each sculptural creations gradually evolved into deeper understanding of something in between ! That which is the void or the gap, the micro notes between those, the intricacies of rhythmic timing, the kumbak (pausing) stage between Puraka (inhalation) and Rechaka (exhalation) in the rhythm of breathing. These experiences are my notations and potential materials. A medium through which I have been cogitating to process my inner insight so that I can share with others. That is where the avid forms of performance and performing comes alive in my creative venture. There is a thin line between performing and performance (Art), the former that relies on rehearsed formats and the later builds up the format while presenting. This is possible for me only through improvisation which helps by knowing the space, material and the participatory observers.

Presently we associate demonstrations on sound with a term called Sound Art and Performance. Usual frame of Sound Art has to do with technological devices in most cases dealing with the noise. Bringing the popular in abstract dimension where noise develops an adrenalin state, but then very often we miss out the organic tincture of the primordial essence of sound. We can imitate but cannot produce the subtle purity which can be expressed through acoustic ways. For example, a jolt of thunder with an immense bass sound cannot be the same, even if one imitates this using electronic devices. When I go through the pathways of deeper sound, the acoustic flow touches those high and low frequency tones in a biomorphic semblance and those resembling sensation blends amiably around the space of presentation.

This brings me to the parallel path of Nada yoga which is an art of using sounds and tones to create inner transformations. We know that all living beings relate to the sound of music. Scientists have been discovering the response of the flora and fauna towards sound vibration which pervades all existing matters. In Indian Classical Music we have methods or styles of singing like Dhrupad and Tarana that chromatically evolves through the outer sound and brings us to the vast space of inner sound. We can find such similarities in Throat singing style of Mongolia, that traverses through undertones and overtones. Overtones are also utilized as a tool for sound healing in music therapy, an alternative treatment procedure which is becoming popular presently throughout the world. Then we have the rhythm section very much present in our bodily mechanism, for instance our heart beats. Can we agree to such a concept, that rhythm evolved from the perambulated timing of our heart complimented by our breathing? In this case we may be aware that our life force is fueled by the application of Nada yogic system. In the practice of Pranayama ( breathing technique) one can experience the function of Nada with an effective mudra known as Dhenu Mudra, combination of overtone and Bhrahmari Pranayam. This is performed while sitting in Siddha-asana (posture) and placing the mudra in each chakra points of our body, the base chakra can be represented by placing the mudra on the base of sitting position. For Music practitioners, this pranayama method intensifies to a concentrating mode where one can experience the true essence of Nada – primordial sound world.

11350653_10154006077616562_6532492529567929079_n                                                           Image of Dhenu Mudra!

Being aware of the sacred syllable – Om, the symbol of primordial sound with immense reverence I am coming to the conclusion with a shloka from Mandukya Upanishad –

Om ityetadaksharam idam sarvam tasyopavyakhyanam bhutam bhavat bhavishyaditi sarvam Omkara eva”

( Om is the imperishable, and it is ‘all this’. All this, whatever is visible, whatever is cognizable, whatever can come within the purview of sense-perception, inference or verbal testimony, whatever can be comprehended under the single term of creation all this is Om )

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