Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sufis and Sitars

Due to frequent visits, my driver now asks if I am going to Epicenter before he asks if I am going home. "Haan jee, mai Epicenter ja raha hoon," I replay. This week I attended a fantastic Sufi music performance by Rene Singh with a lecture on Sufism by an erudite Delhi University professor delivered in Hindi and English, all before my 10pm call with CA. Discussing Turkic Sufism from that of the Indus Valley and that of the Gangetic plain, I learned that in Sufi poetry the linguistic genders intimate as much about intention as the word meanings themselves. For example, reflective diction is nearly always in the feminine gender while assertions of power and authority are masculine.

Flanked by two friends on Thursday night, I attended again another Epicenter performance of Sitar and Tabla by a student of Ravi Shankar. In a fantastic display, the artist willed emotion from the strings with each poignant pull and pluck. The resonant timbre of the instrument echoed through the hollow hall with the undulating dip and drive of the tabla to accompany. As he created notes from the Sitar, it was difficult to discern if the physiognomy of his face influenced his fingers, or if the music inspired the physiognomy. Both performances brought to life more of the Indian classical music that I've grown to love.