World Music Day

Derived from the Greek word mousike or the art of the muses, music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre and is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. Different styles or types of music may emphasise, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping and there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces like songs without instrumental accompaniment and pieces that combine singing and instruments.

Also known as World Music Day or Make Music Day, the Fête de la Musique is an annual music celebration that takes place on 21 June where people are urged to play music outside in their neighbourhoods or public spaces and parks. Free concerts are also organised, where musicians play for fun and not for payment. World Music Day later became celebrated in 120 countries around the world.


The first all-day musical celebration on the day of the summer solstice was originated by Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture of France, as well as by Maurice Fleuret, a French composer, music journalist, and radio producer who was also the Director of Music and Dance at the ministry. He discovered in a 1982 study on the cultural habits of the French, that in a population of five million people, one young person out of two, played a musical instrument and so began to dream of a way to bring people out on the streets. The first edition of the World Music Festival first took place in 1982 in Paris as the Fête de la Musique. Since then, the festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 700 cities in 120 countries, including India, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the United States, the UK, and Japan.

The goal of Fête de la Musique, or World Music Day is to provide thousands of free concerts throughout the day with public areas brimming with live music and participatory music-making opportunities. On this day, amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets, under the slogan Faites de la musique or Make music and many free concerts are organized, making all genres of music accessible to the public. Two of the caveats to being sanctioned by the official Fête de la Musique organisation in Paris are that all concerts must be free to the public, and all performers donate their time free of charge.

To mark this day, veterans and budding learners come out to showcase their talent and make music. Every year on this day, free concerts are held across the world to make music accessible to all.

So tomorrow, make some music or if, like me, you do not have any musical talent, then listen to your favourite music and let the magic take you on a wonderful journey!

Music Appreciation: The most potent instrument of education

When I was young, most people I knew had a subscription to a local music sabha. A sabha is supposed to be a congregration or an assembly in ancient India and in the south, a music sabha is a conregration for music lovers, especially during the music season. Close to our home and very close to my grand mother’s home was the music sabha we went to. My grand parents were members and when they moved out of Bombay (when it was still Bombay and had not yet been renamed to Mumbai), my parents took over the membership.

I remember a representative from the sabha would come home once every few months and pass us the membership card along with the sabha schedule for the next few months. This was way before social media and mobile phones, so everything was done manually. This sabha was one of the most prestigiuous sabhas in Bombay at that time. It was established a few years after India’s independence with the aim of promoting the fine arts and provide a platform to showcase various artists in the various areas of the fine arts, especially music, dance and drama.

My parents and grand parents from both sides used to look forward to this programme and we would also be taken to the sabha for a dose of culture and music appreciation. Sometimes when a friend was also going there, we would not mind going, but most times we would rebel. When they could not get us to accompany them, my mum would leave us at my grandmother’s house which was just 2-3 minutes away from the sabha and go and enjoy the concert. We would enjoy the next few hours in the company of friends and when the concert ended, they would come to my grand mother’s house, have dinner and go home. Most of the concerts used to involve classical Carnatic music and dancen and when a distinguished artist was scheduled to perform, people would beg and borrow extra passes so family and friends could also listen and see the artist at play. 

When a distinguished artist was performing, we would all troop down to the sabha and any requests to stay at home would not be entertained as this would be a rare opportunity to hear and see such a distinguished performer. Relatives who stayed in other parts of the city would also make their way and I remember an aunt, my mother’s sister who was herself a singer and had learnt Carnatic music when she was younger would come down, especially if the concert was on a Saturday and stay at her mum’s place so she could attend it. I remember either attending or my parents attending performances by M.S Subbulakshmi among other celebrated artists.

When I just finished school, the sabha was unfortunately destroyed in a devastating fire and for a very long time all performances were stopped while it was being rebuilt. By then, we had all grown up and after a few more years of being members, my parents also gave up their membership and the sabha is now just a distant memory or a place for nostalgia when we pass by it.

Though I didn’t really recognise it then, this forced attendance has help me appreciate music. Though I did learn Carnatic music and my sister learnt Bharatanatyam, as did pretty much every tambram girl I knew, we did not take it up far and gave it up when school got too much for us. But those lessons and the concerts and dance performances we attended gave us a appreciation of what good music was all about. We learnt how to carry a tune and recognise when someone is out of tune. Even today, when I hear music which is even slightly out of tune, even though I may not recognise the raga being played, I know it is not correct and I wince, mostly unconsciously.

Today, research has confirmed what our parents and grandparents instinctively knew. That when you learn and listen and appreciate good music, it is extremely beneficial, especially to young children. Music is a megavitamin for the brain, the ultimate mood enhancer for emotional balance, a golden key for unlocking creativity, the secret code behind health and longevity, and the connective fiber between human beings of all races, nationalities and generations.

Musical training helps develop language and reasoning as it develops the areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. Children who are exposed to music early are more emotionally developed with empathy towards other cultures and also tend to have a higher self esteem and are better at coping with anxiety. Math and pattern recognition skills are developed with a music education and someone who has learnt music can better detect meaningful, information-bearing elements in sounds. Music also builds the imagination and intellectual curiosity and help foster a positive attitude toward learning and curiosity. An artistic education develops the whole brain and develops a child’s imagination. It is universally known that music helps fight stress and can be incredibly relaxing and also develop spatial intelligence in children.

When I look back in hindsight, I am so thankful to my parents for forcing this on me, even when I could not see it then. At that time, all it meant that going to classical concerts and dance performances meant that my Saturday evenings were being wasted, and I could use that time to play with friends. But today, as I do the same to my children, I realise how much this has benefitted me. GG & BB started learning Carnatic vocal music at about the age of seven. BB dropped it when he was about 12, when puberty hit and his voice started to break, but GG has still continued to learn. When I told her she could drop it if she wanted to, she told me it was very relaxing and wanted to continue. I do believe that these forced lessons have made them appreciate good music, even if their current music taste is not classical. GG also learnt western ballet for almost a decade, but gave it up when school got too much to balance. Today GG continues to sing, both classical and other music while BB, who actually has a good voice and a head for tune, sings very casually, though he will not really admit it.

In My Hands Today…

Four Reigns – Kukrit Pramoj, translated by Tulachandra


This English version of the Thai novel Si Phaendin tells the rich and entertaining story of one woman’s life both inside and outside the royal palace in Bangkok. Spanning a period of four reigns, from King Chulalongkorn to the reign of his grandson King Ananda, this popular modern classic gives insight into the social and political issues facing Thailand from the 1890s through the turbulent years of World War II.

Poem: Music to my Ears


At work, almost as soon as I log into my laptop, I have my headphones on and start listening to music. The music I listen to is mostly Bollywood, with some fusion and shlokas thrown in. I have been adding to this collection for more than 10 years now and it just keeps growing! So this poem is because of this.




Music to my Ears


I plug in my headphones and start to move to the beat
Making sure I am still sitting in my seat

The rhythm starts slowly, building to a crescendo
My body starts to move, starts to glow

Suddenly realising that I am not at home but at work,
I temper my movements and start working to the tempo that is playing

The music fills my head, fills my soul
My work reflects the music I play, making me feel in control

My music fills my days, makes my day fly
Because of my music, my days make me not want to complain



Catching up with friends

On Sunday evening, we went to my inlaws place for haldi Kumkum and it was a fun evening. BB & GG got to meet up with some old friends whom they hardly see these days since they’ve moved away and are in different schools. At one point there was so much noise, we couldn’t hear ourselves talk – there were about 9 kiddos in the house, including two little ones. It was funny seeing how they split themselves gender-wise – the boys playing with their cars in one room and roaring with laughter at bodily functions, something that only little boys are capable of finding humour in and the girls playing god knows what but which included loads of shouting, dancing and singining in one room. The two little ones shuttled between both rooms, somtimes scared as they saw the noise levels there.

Image source - Wikipedia

It was really fun catching up with friends like this and we have decided to do it once again soon (after the exams). While talking about the different activities our kiddos do I was stuck by something. Most of their friends who came visiting on Sunday were learning Indian things (classical music, classical dance etc) since they learn they non-Indian things in school, something which every self-respecting tambrahmkid does, but BB & GG are different. BB & GG have been

Image from Wikipedia

learning Indian classical Carnatic music for about a year now and GG as a counterpoint to this has been learning Ballet since the time she was around three years old. She enjoys ballet, but is not very good at it. It’s not something that she’ll be doing as a career, but it is something that gives her pleasure. I enjoy this dischotomy and it gives me pleasure that GG is blending the traditional with the modern, just like this world that is all hers!

Now I have to get BB to take something that complements what GG is doing – but BB is alll boy and so I am unsure if he will enjoy it. Well, there’s always hope. Next year, when they go to Primary 3, they need to take up some compulsary Co-Curricular Activities. Since BB is always at home – on the iPhone, on the computer or on the TV, both S and me want him to take up some physical activity like soccor, wushu or chookball!