Body Drones

In Indian classical music, it is all about the drone. The drone feels like a thick cord running across a song. It is present in every song, and the tanbura is the instrument that creates this sustainable tone. It is somewhat like the spine for the song to spinraga, rasa and tala to create electricity and dialogue for both the performers as well as the audience. The drone acts like the vertebrae for the music to musculature itself over, to create a living, breathing body of time, tone, and pitch. The raga is a set of notes, rasa is the feeling and mood, and tala is the tempo.

In Hinduism, the philosophical quest is to collapse this mind-body connection. To flatten it in such a way that the subject and object have collapsed and there is a fluidity in movement. The irony that there is actually dynamism that comes from this flattening. No more jittery decisions or doubt. This collapse inspires confidence in movement both in thought and action—to get through and past reach up and grasp. In Western philosophy, Leibniz talks to quality of substance and what can inform distinction:

“Now the great central principle of the philosophy of Leibniz is the idealizing of all substance, by regarding it as throughout perceptive or representative. Apperception, feeling, and bare perception (which is not necessarily anything more than the mere possession of real qualities) are not different in kind, but merely in degree. One reality pervades them all; no one of them is separated from another by any impassable barrier. Body is confused soul; soul is clear and distinct body. Self-consciousness is not a unique certainty or reality, but a high degree of clearness and distinctness in that which is already real in lower forms.” *     

In essence, this collapse, and understanding the distinction between –pre and –post forms of this state comes about through a simple concept called awareness. Mindfulness is another popular term, but for the purpose of this paper, as well as this concept as it relates to art in terms of spatial and sculptural qualities, I will use the term awareness. With my practice, I am interested in awareness of spatiality through the body via sculpting and composing sound.

Indian classical music is a form of music and composition that relies very much on awareness of a very specific exterior that creates room for an expansive interior. It is believed that an awareness of Indian ragas as a specific form can be used to tune your body.**                 


* Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, and Robert Latta. The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings,. London: Oxford UP, H. Milford, 1925. Print. 127.                    

** Lavezzoli, Peter. The Dawn of Indian Music in the West: Bhairavi. New York: Continuum, 2006. Print. 262.