Sunday, November 29, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Fantastic version of one of my favourite classical pieces of all time I found on YouTube: Pachelbel's Canon. Have copy-pasted entire sidebar information for this video. Lots of interesting points about the playing technique.
Performed on original instruments by Voices of Music. Featuring Katherine Kyme, Carla Moore & Cynthia Freivogel, baroque violin; Tanya Tomkins, baroque cello, Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ; David Tayler, theorbo.
About the performance: the canon is played using not only the instruments but also the bowing techniques from the time of Pachelbel. As you can see from the video, especially if you look at the high definition version, the string instruments are not only baroque, but they are in baroque setup: this means that the strings, fingerboard, bridge and other parts of the violin appear just as they did in Pachelbel's time. No metal hardware such as chinrests, clamps or fine tuners are used on the violins, allowing the violins to vibrate freely. A good example of baroque bowing can be seen in the extended passage of repeated notes: the musicians play these notes on one bow—the shorter & lighter baroque bow—to created a gliding effect. The players also hold the bow very differently which affects the balance and touch. Both the style and the amount of vibrato are based on baroque treatises which describe the methods for playing, bowing & articulation in the late 17th century. The narrow, shimmering vibrato blends with the baroque organ. The organ used is made entirely of wood, based on German baroque instruments, and the pipes are voiced to provide a smooth accompaniment to the strings, instead of a more soloistic sound. The large bass lute, or theorbo, provides a complement to the organ not only in the texture of the chords but also the long strings which occasionally sound the bass notes an octave lower. The continuo players play supporting chords and voices to the canon, carefully avoiding parallels and doublings of the parts.
Another feature of the video is the subtle differences in not only the sound and color of the instruments, but also the different techniques of the players. All three are playing baroque violins with baroque bows, yet each person has her own distinct sound and bowing style—each bow has a different shape and balance. If you look at paintings of 17th century players you will see that they are all different, because that individuality of sound and technique was highly valued. This allows the players and the listeners to hear and appreciate the "Voices of Music."
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Related to the previous post, and reminded by none other than Jai Ho of the touching speech by Mr Terry Pratchett announcing his Alzheimer's in March 2008, here's a C&P of the entire text if you're too lazy to click on the link and read for yourself or just can't bear to tear your eyes away from my site (perfectly understandable):
Terry Pratchett's Alzheimer's Speech in Full
My name is Terry Pratchett, author of a series of inexplicably successful fantasy books and I have had Alzheimer's now for the past two years plus, in which time I managed to write a couple of bestsellers.
I have a rare variant. I don't understand very much about it, but apparently if you are going to have Alzheimer's it's a good one to have.
So, a stroke of luck there then!
Interestingly enough, when I was diagnosed last December by those nice people at Addenbrooke's, I started a very different journey through dementia.
This one had much better scenery, interesting and often very attractive inhabitants, wonderful wildlife and many opportunities for excitement and adventure.
Those of you who's last experience with computer games was looking at Lara Croft's buttocks might not be aware of how good they have become as audio and visual experiences, although I would concede that Lara's buttocks were a visual experience in their own right.
But in this case I was travelling through a country that was part of the huge computer game called Oblivion, which is so beautifully detailed that I have often ridden around it to enjoy the scenery and weather and have hardly bothered to kill anything at all.
At the same time as I began exploring the wonderful Kingdom of Dementia, which is next door to the Kingdom of Mania, I was also experiencing the slightly more realistic experience of being a 59 year old who finds they have early onset Alzheimer's.
Apparently I reacted to this situation in a reasonably typical way, with a sense of loss and abandonment with an incoherent, or perhaps I should say, violently coherent fury that made the Miltonic Lucifer's rage against Heaven seem a bit miffed by comparison. That fire still burns.
I want to go on writing! Admittedly, that means I have to stay alive.
You can't write books when you are dead, unless your name is L. Ron Hubbard.
And so now I'm a game for real. It's a nasty disease, surrounded by shadows and small, largely unseen tragedies.
People don't know what to say, unless they have had it in the family.
People ask me why I announced that I had Alzheimer's.
My response was: why shouldn't I?
I remember when people died "of a long illness" now we call cancer by its name, and as every wizard knows, once you have a thing's real name you have the first step to its taming.
We are at war with cancer, and we use that vocabulary.
We battle, we are brave, we survive. And we have a large armaments industry.
For those of us with early onset in particular, it's more of a series of skirmishes.
My GP is helpful and patient, but I don't have a specialist locally.
The NHS kindly allows me to buy my own Aricept because I'm too young to have Alzheimer's for free, a situation I'm okay with, in a want-to-kick-a-politician-in-the-teeth-kind of way.
But, on the whole, you try to be your own doctor.
The internet twangs night and day. I walk a lot and take more supplements than the Sunday papers. We talk to one another and compare regimes.
Part of me lives in a world of new age remedies and science, and some of the science is a little like voodoo.
But science was never an exact science, and personally I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance.
Fortunately, I have the Greek Chorus to calm me down
Soon after I told the world my website fell over and my PA had to spend the evening negotiating more bandwidth.
I had more than 60,000 messages within the first few hours.
Most of them were readers and well-wishers.
Some of them wanted to sell me snake oil and I'm not necessarily going to dismiss all of these, as I have never found a rusty snake.
But a large handful came from 'experienced' sufferers, successfully fighting a holding action, and various people in universities and research establishments who had, despite all expectations, risen to high places in their various professions even while being confirmed readers of my books.
And they said; can we help? They are the Greek Chorus. Only two of them are known to each other and they give me their advice on various options that I suggest.
They include a Wiccan, too. It's a good idea to cover all the angles.
It was interesting when I asked about having my dental amalgam fillings removed.
There was a chorus of ? hrumph, no scientific evidence, hrumph???., but if you can afford to have it done properly then it certainly won't do any harm and you never know.
And that is where I am, along with many others, scrabbling to stay ahead long enough to be there when the cure, which I suspect may be more like a regime, comes along.
Say it will be soon - there's nearly as many of us as there are cancer sufferers, and it looks as if the number of people with the disease will double within a generation.
And in most cases you will find alongside the sufferer you will find a spouse, suffering as much. It's a shock and a shame, then, to find out that funding for research is three per cent of that which goes to find cancer cures.
Perhaps that is why, for example, that I know three people who have successfully survived brain tumours but no-one who has beaten Alzheimer's???although among the Greek Chorus are some who are giving it a hard time.
I'd like a chance to die like my father did - of cancer, at 86.
Remember, I'm speaking as a man with Alzheimer's, which strips away your living self a bit at a time.
Before he went to spend his last two weeks in a hospice he was bustling around the house, fixing things.
He talked to us right up to the last few days, knowing who we were and who he was.
Right now, I envy him. And there are thousands like me, except that they don't get heard.So let's shout something loud enough to hear. We need you and you need money. I'm giving you a million dollars. Spend it wisely.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Step 2. Enjoy.
Excerpt from But mostly, seventeen thousand runs featuring Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar:
"So carefully I position my computer at the stumps,
my mouse at silly point,
my eye on the outfield,
my heart with the wicketkeeper."
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Am seriously considering buying this book by one Ibn-E-Insha. Found it randomly while searching for PTV dramas and what not. Seriously funny. (I hoped to buy this in the original Urdu but who am I kidding? I must study and improve myself first.)
The only time I heard any reference to Insha prior to today was Jagjit Singh's rendition of 'Kal Chaudvin Ki Raat Thi.' Obviously he's not top calibre poet material but he's a bloody funny writer.
"A Lesson in Geography
In the beginning, there were very few countries, and people lived in comparative peace and quiet. In the 15th century,
A second body of opinion says that, on the contrary,
(From Urdu – The Final Book by Ibn-e-Insha, Translated by David Matthews,
Harper Collins, 1997)
Fuller excerpt can be found at Muse India. I can only imagine how much better it would have been in the original. Some day soon...
Addendum: Rare light poem by Insha, rendered as ghazal by Nahid Akhtar here.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Let's start with the essentials.
1. Story/script: Thank you Haseena Moin, you wonderful, wonderful woman. One look at Moin's writing credits (Ankahi, Aahat, Tanhaiyaan, Zer Zabar Paish, Dhund, Dhoop Kinaray etc.) and you have but an idea of her creative calibre and mastery over Urdu. *standing ovation*
Focussing on just Dhoop Kinaray for the anon...
An exceptional, convincing and very well-told romantic story between a frothy, lovable, beautiful young medical intern (Zoya) and her much-older, very hot, sullen, no-nonsense, broody, intelligent and totally awesome boss, a pediatrician of some note (Dr Ahmer) . Throw in a smorgasbord of fantastic supporting characters (Baba, Anji, Dr Irfan, Fazeelat, the other interns etc.) and an evil-psycho-hateful-type vamp like you won't believe (Dr Sheena: Yukh thoooo!) and you have all the ingredients that Haseena Moin used to make DK a work of art beyond compare.
Did I mention the pace of this drama? It speeds along from start to finish like that *snaps fingers* and when the story concludes at just the right time, you feel a twinge of regret that it's all ended too soon. THAT'S the mark of a good writer, what?
2. Direction: Directed by Rahat Kazmi's/Dr Ahmer's real-life wife, Saira Kazmi. Was watching a random video off YouTube where she was explaining how she was all about realistic drama and a natural style of story-telling. Hey, Saira, we believe you. Absolutely. Well done, I say.
3. Casting: In terms of casting, I don't think any televised drama has ever since, or ever will, get it this right.
-Rahat Kazmi as Dr Ahmer: Drool factor 10/10;
-Marina Khan as Dr Zoya: Beautiful, fun, innocent and extremely lovable as female protagonist - every young girl wanted to be her;
-Sajid Hasan as Dr Irfan: I want one to go, please... My God, Dr Irfan's hilarious character is everyone's favourite memory of DK;
-Kehkashaan Awaz as the sweet Anji, Zoya's childhood friend and neighbour;
-The acid spewing Dr Sheena, played by Badar Khalil- DIE DIE DIE! Has anyone ever managed to play a character so universally hateful and psyched? Even her unfortunate ABBA hairdo makes you want to scalp her;
-Zoya's adorable father Baba, played by Qazi Wajid. *grin*
-Fazeelat: Zoya's aaya since forever; a loud, abrasive and extremely loving, paan-chewing harridan who is the proverbial coconut - hard on the outside, soft inside.
All the actors were catapulted to superstardom after Dhoop Kinaray, if they weren't established as top-of-the-league already.
Here's a classic bit from Dhoop Kinaray. It's the beginning of the story, we see Dr Ahmer (hubba hubba) leading his interns on rounds, and Dr Zoya goofing up and irking the hell out of him. *flashback to own college gaffes*
4. Soundtrack: DK has an eminently hummable soundtrack. Ghazals by Nayyara Noor, poetry by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. I've been humming the background music stupidly for days now. Even to put my baby nephew to sleep. He's six months old and then some, but he gets it.
Here's a good link to Dhoop Kinaray's soundtrack. It's got MP3s, lyrics, translations and videos.
And now a video of the most grin-inducing romantic bit from the whole series... the bit where the two docs go gallivanting on a field trip and we as audiences pee our pants in anticipation of all the romance that will follow. "HE HOLDS HER HAND!" OMG OMG OMG! This was a very big deal in Pakistani dramas, okay? Ha ha. Lyrics (by Faiz) as follows: .
5. Style Statement: Dhoop Kinaray oozes in sophistication and style, whether it's sartorial or cultural or verbal. Class will tell, is what I always say.
The clothes the characters wear in this series were the height of fashion then. I promise, they were. Our family (and all salwar-kameez wearing folk everywhere I suppose) always used to take the lead from PTV's contemporary dramas in terms of fashion trends. What they wore, we wore. (This is not true anymore. What they wear on PTV nowadays, I could never wear. Too little textile used and full length salwars and sleeves seem to be a thing of the past. But wait! This is neither here nor there.)
And then the depiction of family life, the tehzeeb, the beauty of well-spoken Urdu, the shaairi mixed in with everyday dialogue - most endearing about Pakistani dramas...
Even the hair styles, yes, even them! They were oh-so-cool back then. (Coincidentally, I had Zoya Khan's boy-cut all my girlhood days. Also known as the Princess Diana cut. *blush*)
Anyway. To cut a long story short, Dhoop Kinaray is aces. Those of you who haven't watched, start downloading all episodes from YouTube or just go to the many online sources and buy the original DVD. Absolutely worth it, since it's so cheap. About USD 20 or so.
When I look at the tripe that calls itself 'drama' on channels today (especially Indian tele-serials.... gaaah!...) laughing alone does not satisfy. I need to point AND laugh. Which I do, before changing channels very, very fast.