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The role of music in promoting core values in today’s changing environment

The following article was published as part of a University Grants Commission Seminar.

Change is the only constant in the world today. We see and experience it aroundus all the time. It is an all- embracing term and covers various aspects, such as the physical changes occurring around us in our environment; for example, the phenomenon of global warming. Technological advances have led to several changes in our basic lifestyle. The means of communication, transport, and day to day living have all shown a steady upward growth. Even in the work place, the dynamics have changed on account of several factors. Opportunities, career options, social perceptions have all contributed to making the workplace dynamics very different today.

The social fabric of our society is, by a natural consequence, changing, evolving and metamorphosing constantly. This is reflected in our value systems, our priorities, and perceptions of not only ourselves but also of those around us, within a social frame work.

So, how does Music impact, mould, and in some ways direct these changes? To seek the answers to these questions, we would have to look at our Music on different levels, namely the literal and the metaphorical.

A. The literal level- Here we consider the various factors contained in the musical idiom.

1. The poetry or the ‘sahitya’ of our compositions. Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. The poetry in our music, thus gives a shape to our thoughts. Thoughts are what mould us, our thinking, our actions and responses. When we relate to the beauty of nature, feeling the tranquility of a sunset or experiencing the romance of a moonlit night, it fills the heart with joy and happiness. A happy thought is like a seed that sows positivity for all to reap.

2. The interplay of melody and rhythm is one of the most perfect examples of a harmonious relationship. Each has its own identity, but when they come together, a third unique and exciting dimension comes into play, enriching the components by its mere existence. It is not too difficult to extrapolate this imagery and symbolism into the inter-personal relationships that everyone in society has at various levels in the different spheres of their life.

3. The aesthetics of the Raaga: When different emotional states come together, the aesthetic flavor of the raaga comes through and makes the experience enjoyable. The unfolding of a raaga is like that of a flower blooming-a thing of infinite beauty. The mental state evoked, lingers on long after the music has stopped - leaving the listener in a state of ‘Aanand’ or deep joy.

B. The metaphorical level:

1. Within the society: We see that the ideas conveyed through Music, at the literal level, are embodied in- Beauty in the poetry, Harmony in the interplay of Svara and Laya, and Happiness and Joy in the aesthetics of a Raaga and its expression. These ideas or concepts have a universal appeal and they transcend the limitations of boundaries, borders, religion and race. This promotes and fosters peace, and understanding which can go a long way to strengthen global ties.

2. Within the family: Music, especially our Classical Music tradition, has an intrinsic element of ‘timelessness’. Some changes have happened, for example, the different way concerts are structured today. Many artistes are featured in one evening, thus leading to shorter recitals. However, the core musical content has stayed relatively unchanged. The intrinsic nature of our Music is such that, it rises above Time and Change. It is eternal. The literature of the compositions carry their own cultural ethos. The raagas still adhere to the time theory, evoking a bygone era of natural illumination, reflected as sunlight in the ‘raaga’. When this music is enjoyed by the family as a whole, there is a sense of bonding. Everyone is able to relate to it as, it cuts across the generation gap. Such bonding is undoubtedly a very healthy environment for children to grow and bloom. Communication between different generations becomes easier as the doors of understanding open up.

In conclusion, I would like to say, that, through all the changes happening in and around us, the one reassuring constant is the presence of Music. It cleanses the mind and soul and uplifts the spirits. It is the universal language of Mankind, enabling people to reach out, connect and communicate with each other. This shared happiness has and will continue to guide and steer us towards peace and harmony in the world.

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