I'd intended to call this post 'blogging on the move' and write it on the bus between Oxford and London this morning - except that the wi-fi on board didn't seem to be working, so I couldn't and am instead typing this in the familiar surroundings of my bedroom.
Last night I had the very great pleasure of playing for the second time in a trio with the astonishing Lol Coxhill and the equally marvelous Alexander Hawkins. (Alex has written some very pertinent if somewhat labyrinthine musings about the gig on his blog here (under 'Timequake'), which incidentally I highly recommend you all check out anyway.) I greatly enjoyed playing but the special treat was a duo performance (the first ever) between John Butcher and Angharad Davies (depping at the last minute for an indisposed Dave Tucker). They only played one piece of, I would estimate, about 15 minutes, but it held me absolutely spellbound throughout. Sometimes their sounds meshed inextricably, at others one was reminded very clearly and beautifully of the difference between sounds made by blowing through a metal tube and the sounds made by bowing or plucking bits of metal attached to a wooden resonator. The pacing was marvellous - not that it was all cosy; there was a real tension sometimes waiting for a new sound to begin or wondering what action one of the musicians would take next. About halfway through a bit of a stupid grin developed on my face and I thought 'there's nothing about this music I don't like'. It's gigs like that that make one realize what we do it all for!
My parents have recently been in India, and brought me back a wonderful cornucopia of Hindustani classical music on CD which I'm gradually making my way through. While searching for a bit more information on the web, I came across sarangi.info, which is a real treasure trove I've barely scratched the surface of. But I would particularly recommend the pdfs and audio examples available here - pdfs of a book (and audio files of the accompanying cassette) originally published by Manchester University Press in 1980 - and long out of print - entitled Indian Music in Performance: A Practical Introduction. Neil Sorrell wrote the text and the amazing Ram Narayan provides the audio examples. The book is a general introduction to the topic but also a serious piece of analysis, including a transcription of an entire raga and an absolutely fascinating section (with audio examples) on the way that Narayan practises. Along with The Raga Guide, by far the most illuminating book on the subject I have encountered.
Finally a note on frequency. My friends Richard Pinnell and Joel Cooper (check out their excellent blogs by following the links) have brought it to my attention that I don't post here that often. I must admit I'm flattered that they want more of my ramblings and I do admit it is annoying repeatedly checking a favourite blog to find nothing new on it. I just don't seem to be one of those people with interesting things to say every few days! But I do promise at least one post a month - a kind of monthly newsletter if you will. Right I've said it now, I'll have to stick to it ...