February 15, 2015

Forgotten Time

I spent an early Sunday morning with Pt. Ravi Shankar's The Master Drummers of India for the first time in roughly six years since I first started with tabla.

Master Drummers of India

"7 beats, cycle, called rupak taal"

"It's good that you are listening to this," my first teacher Quamar said in 2008. "You will need to keep playing after the initial excitement of beginning wears off."

"DhatrkadheteTe ghenadha ghenadhadha ghenadha ghenadhate ghenatina ghen"

The initial excitement has worn, of course. After six years? How many times hearing: "Are those bongos?" Late night practices. Growth via mostly-friendly competition. Encounters with beautiful pianists, guitarists, violinists, vocalists, thereminists and guzheng-ists always listening for where it might fit.

It can be a path easily lost to begin studying an instrument many are unfamiliar with. I have had to become very defined in my own goal: To become a present, honest and articulate accompanist of Hindustani classical music.

It's an earthy sort of simplicity to hear this album again. I still have my timestamped notes penciled onto post-its in a journal from a first listen. I had no idea what any of it meant or where the hell the one was. And six years have passed in a moment.

For the record it has been driven strictly by love. All of it has been. I never felt I had a choice in whether to keep going with this music, although obviously there is one every day. The transition from fear of quitting to passionately challenging forth towards an unlimited horizon has been slow and sometimes delicate. And deliciously worthwhile.