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culture Environment feelings Happiness Love Music personal

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……

Categories
COVID-19 Uncategorised World

Music Heals

Author: Harini N P

Music, which can conquer anything, has proven once again that COVID19, isn’t any exception. Researchers in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) came up with a tune for the Coronavirus. Yes, you heard it right. All of us are aware of how this virus looks. Its spiky look has now become a common sight on various news channels and internet. However, the sound that this virus makes is something new to us. With the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the researchers have turned Coronavirus into a melody.

The spikes of the Coronavirus, which are made up of a combination of Amino acid sequence and the structure of the spike protein of the pathogen COVID 19, have been turned into sounds. Each amino acid was given a unique note in the musical scale and the entire protein was converted into a preliminary music score which plays for an hour and forty nine minutes. This technique of representing data in the form of sounds is termed as sonification. Developing better understanding of these vibrational patterns of the virus will be critical in designing an effective drug therapy in future, perhaps by searching for a protein with a similar melody and rhythm that would make an effective antibody and limit the virus’s ability to infect the hosts.

With this process, the project lead, Mark Buehler, believes that potential therapies can be established in the hope of preventing the deadly outbreaks by assisting scientists in finding where, on the protein, the antibodies or drugs might bind and could assist scientists to spot specific details that they may have not noticed until now. This research is one of a kind and it is interesting to witness how creatively human brains can work in developing solutions for various problems that the world is encountering today.

Going back to the early Greece rituals, music was used to soothe pain, North Americans and Africans used singing as part of their healing rituals and in India the use of specific ‘ragas’ for curing ailments have been in practice since ages and is used by music therapy practitioners even to this day. In the wake of the pandemic today, many countries have witnessed people keeping their spirits high by tuning into various songs. The citizens of Wuhan were seen chanting “Keep it up, Wuhan!” and singing patriotic songs from their windows, which encouraged everyone in their efforts to save their city. In Italy, citizens have been playing instruments and singing from their balconies during the lock-down. Many parodies have surfaced on YouTube giving hope to people all over the world, reiterating the fact that this epidemic shall be defeated.

While the MIT research offers great scope for finding antidotes, there are certain shortcomings with respect to the working of the AI. Also, the awareness about this technology has not reached a wider audience yet. A free Android smartphone app, called Amino Acid Synthesizer, has been launched. This app has been designed to play the musical compositions have been created by the researchers. Once this gains momentum, the work on such projects will be enhanced and this will contribute tp achieving greater success in combating the pandemic.

Moreover, the spikes of this virus contain three protein chains folded into intriguing pattern, which becomes difficult to see. The microscope and other apparatus to track its movements will require huge amounts to be spent on them. Hence the music notes for these proteins, when heard, can provide a better understanding in coming up with solutions and can be of great help when this technology gains a wider reach. This is a promising project and with dedicated efforts, this will definitely help in contributing towards overcoming these uncertain times.

Music unites the human race. We can always find solace in the lilting tunes when we lend our ears to this divine art. From music therapy to sonification, it will always be there to guide the mankind towards peace and well-being. That’s why it is said that music heals!