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Blues of the Rain

by:Anshuman Gupta

One of my favorite activities that I look forward to each day is going up to my terrace for an evening walk. Popping in my earphones, listening to different genres of music on different days, gazing at the scenery around me, mostly the skies. Sometimes I even go up late at night to just gaze at the moon. Therefore, it does stand to reason that Monsoon would be my least favorite season, all that rain dampens (pun not intended) any chances of me going up and hanging around for a while by myself. Yet in some ways I’ve come to appreciate this solitude that follows with me cranked up to a windowpane, sitting instead of walking, still listening to music as I watch the raindrops splatter on the ground. 

It does give a person a chance to reflect on things, after all, think mostly, maybe gain new perspectives in the circumstances a person may be in. Sitting in solitude and listening to the raindrops falling one by one does provide a better chance to concentrate, for a reason, I do have some speculations for and will get back to in the end. First, I want to address the themes Rain is usually used for in literature, our best friend. 

Rain has always been used as a literary device to primarily portray two types of atmosphere: the first being the atmosphere of romance. We know how it goes, it starts raining, the couples are enthralled by rain for some reason as if they have never seen it in their entire lives despite being in their twenties or thirties, they step out into the rain and dance the Bollywood dance. *Cham Cham* ensues. Oh, so romantically they then spend hours in the rain, dancing and looking at each other lovingly as they lean in for a kiss, kissing as frequently as a rain droplet falls on the ground. Hypothermia, so romantic isn’t it? Shudders 

The other atmosphere primarily portrayed by rain is that of a bleak atmosphere, with the rain being a metaphor for a cynical and dour mood. The dark clouds bursting with rain as the protagonist looks out his window in sadness or with a sense of purpose, an aura of so much edginess around them you would think it’s a Zack Snyder movie. 

Personally, where do my thoughts lie when it comes to rain and how do I view it? I’d say both these takes are something that resonates with me in a weird quirky mix. I’ve always appreciated the philosophy of the balance between Yin and Yang. As an advocate of that philosophy, I tend to fluctuate between these two atmospheres. 

It is prudent to point out however that which atmosphere I currently immerse myself in when met with rain depends on many factors. Of course, the choice of music can influence an atmosphere as well, the right song creating the right vibe but personally, when I find myself pressed to that windowpane, looking out to the wet scenery before me, that music just becomes background noise to me. A way to keep me at peace more like; but the lyrics don’t hit me like they usually do. Instead, it provides a bubble for my mind to then work its magic, the magic of overthinking and screwing up my sanity. 

Coming back to the two rain atmospheres, a boy my age definitely has his share of romantic thoughts, it’s only natural after all, I’m human. But mix in cynicism with those thoughts to traverse a completely different route and you may get aligned to what I think during this season. I don’t mean I’m cynical of the idea of love or if it will ever happen, I’m not a spoilsport like that. It’s more the idea of how you decide which human complements you. It’s more me scoffing at certain romanticizations present in the media. For example, I’m completely against the idea of “love at first sight” or “opposites attract”. They feel like an attempt to simplify what love is supposed to be, reducing it to a silly genre used to sell literary pieces for a crowd to fawn over, it doesn’t feel true, it doesn’t feel right. 

Besides this, I think of myself a lot. Not in a narcissistic self-absorbed way but more in a trying to figure out myself way. It’s always fun to converse with and debate yourself in that regard, after all, isn’t every human being trying to figure out who they are and how to best improve to be as virtuous as they can be, make decisions that make you happy and a will that makes you be of some use to the world we live in. Cynicism does take a walk around these thoughts as well, satisfaction with oneself is hard after all, especially in this age and time where you just sit around in one place. I’m in my second year of college yet it feels like I have never moved past the stage of graduating school thanks to the same old environment and inability to move forward in life physically as well thanks to the pandemic. Maybe getting lost in the vortex of all these thoughts isn’t such a good idea, but when it rains, and you just look at the raindrops falling down one by one, an imagery not quite hard to imagine, it’s just so easy to get lost in the chaotic rambling of your mind. This entire piece is one chaotic rumbling of the mind thanks to the rainy season. The concentration indeed is absolute, and as for why, as I mentioned earlier, I think I do have one speculation towards this whole conundrum. 

You see, the thing about rain is that it has a rhythm to it. Splitter – splatter, as the raindrops fall one by one, one after another, it’s a beat on its own, a pattern. Human brains are by nature susceptible to patterns and work well with them. Not surprising then that it’s easier to think more and ponder stuff in this season and get lost in the vortex, compared to the linearity of thoughts in other instances……

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The Microtonal Beauty of Jazz.

by:Viraaj

First celebrated on April 30th, 2011, International Jazz Day, a day that highlights Jazz and its role in uniting people all across the globe. But what really is jazz? What makes it different from other forms of music?

By definition, Jazz is a genre that has its origins in the African-American communities of Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America. It has its roots in 19th and 20th century Blues and Ragtime. It is characterized by blues notes, swing, complex chords, poly-rhythms, microtones and above all Improvisation.

But, to me, jazz is a form of music that gives the player freedom to play whatever, freedom to interpret the music in their own way, meaning that no two performances, even by the same musician are never the same. Each performance changes with the performer’s mood, their interactions with their bandmates and their experience, this means that melodies, harmonies, solos and even the time signatures change with each performance. Jazz truly represents the diversity of the individual, and as a result of this freedom, we have multiple sub-genres or forms, each varying slightly from the other. This is in stark contrast to Classical Music, staying true to the source is important. Any and all deviation from what is written on the sheets of music in front of you is not perceived well.

Jazz bands usually have a soloist that is supported by a rhythm section that have instruments such as a piano or guitar, or both, a double bass and drums.  The rhythm section supports the soloist, giving them a solid base to build off of and often responding to the changes that the soloist makes, ensuring that the soloist is able to stand out to the crowd. In comparison to this, forms of jazz such as Free Jazz and Avant-Garde reduce this separation between the soloist and the rhythm sections, giving the other instruments a license to move away from the source based on their mood.

In Jazz, there is this requirement for the players to abandon classical notions of sticking to a scale or a time signature and explore the possibilities of what can and will sound good. As someone who had just completed what seemed like the basics of music theory, Jazz seemed like this over-the-top, complicated genre that only experienced players attempted. The complicated chords and the quick scale changes, were all too difficult to comprehend. And while I still find these techniques complicated, it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the songs.

Jazz takes you away from the 4 chord monotony that is present in a lot of modern songs (take for example Dusk Till Dawn by Zayn)  and stretches the limits of what is perceived as possible. Compared to other genres such as Pop, Rock and Punk, the variety in Jazz is what I find appealing, though Linkin Park is and always will be my favourite band. And this, at least in my opinion, separates the average album pop or rock song from songs like ‘Boy’ and ‘L.A. Girls’ by Charlie Puth and Bruno Mars’ ‘Leave the Door Open’, all of which are amazing songs. If you’re into anime like I am, then background scores produced by Studio Ghibli have some amazing songs that while not necessarily Jazz, do have a lot of influence from Jazz music. And if you like to waste time on YouTube or Instagram or even on Reddit, go look up Charles Cornell, Adam Neely and their likes.