Effect of sound
EFFECT OF SOUND - AS I FEEL
I can distinctly remember of an incident of my childhood. Every morning a sweet melodious song (as it seemed then) used to awaken me from sleep. The song, coming, as it did, from a distance faded away, gradually passing far off from beneath our house. These are unforgettable reminiscences of my childhood. The common grandfather (Dadu) of our entire village used to come early in the morning playing with his small brass cymbal (we call ‘kartal’) and sang in order to wake up the villagers. It was a morning song usually sung by the folk singers, “Provato hoilo nishi pohailo Shukha Shari bole / Kato nidra jao go Radhe Kalomaniker kole!.” It means that two birds, ‘Shukh’ and ‘Shari’ (auspicious birds used in Vaishnab mythology) are chirping and requesting Radha that Night has passed and it is dawn now, how long she will sleep! The song obsessed me for years. Dadu was a Vaishnab, lived with the alms of villagers. At the end of the month, he usually comes to each house and sings a song while asking for alms. After his death, none else took that responsibility and the song was heard no more. A melody had wiped off forever from our life.
In our village, I have not seen any watch in any neighbor’s house. Time was ascertained by watching the shadow of the sun in the days and in the night, Jackals discharged the responsibility, so to say to declare time after specific intervals. Grandmother told us many stories about the jackal, they are not only very clever but they were pundits (teachers) as well. But when they yelled from very near our house, I sprang to mother’s lap and hugged her with great fear. This was the effect of pundit’s melodious (?) sound! When thunderbolt occurred, then not only did I cuddle mom tightly but also hide my face in her lap as if none could see me, even lightning itself too. In front of our house, there were two large trees where some vulture families had been residing for long. In the evening, a cry just like that of a child was heard which made me tremble in fear. Answering my question, mother told smilingly that the vulture kids might have disobeyed their parents and scolded for not making their studies. I became much closer to mother with my books to show that I was not disobeying her. In those days, we, i.e.my elder sister, one of my brothers and I, though could not properly understand the issue of altercation yet exchange of hot words between mom and dad made us cry loudly which resulted in the unwanted presence of neighbors. Extra scolding from mom was our bonus.
In my school days when grandmother ordered to read ‘Mahabharata’ (one of the Indian Epics) in my leisure time, I was fond of reading wars between heroes like ‘Karna-Arjuna,Bhima-Duryodhana, Abhimanyu’ and seven warriors and many other descriptions of war between heroes in the great war field ‘Kurukshetra’. Invariably the great epic writer indulged in narrating vividly the war of words between the heroes before the actual war. It is just like a warm-up session before the performance. It is clear how exchange of hot words, defaming each other, made them greatly involved in fighting fiercely. Science explains that sound is nothing but a result of frequency. No doubt, it is true by merely saying this, the tremendous power of sound, whether meaningful or meaningless, could never be judged or explained at all. Acoustical study may explain this precisely.
Musical background of India is no doubt very old and admirable like the other countries in the world. Every country has its unique history, progress and evolution of music. In India, scriptures / Vedas specifically mentioned about the mantras & music and how it could be sung perfectly. All mantras in ‘Rig Samhita’ and ‘Sama Shamhita’ are sung with specific rhythm, beat ‘chanda’ (the poetical metre) etc like ‘gayatri-chanda,’ ‘anusthup- chanda’ etc. It seems that there is a similarity with the chapter Psalms in the Bible. In our myth, it is said that Lord Shiva was the master of all modes of music (Ragas and Raginis). ‘Narada’ (Rishi, inventor of the musical instrument, veena). was also the master of all styles of music of which he had some ego in him. However, once, by mistake, he sang with improper rhythm resulting in the idols of all six + thirty-six modes of music (six ragas and thirty-six raginies) becoming deformed for the time being. In heaven, Devaraj Indra’s (king of Gods in heaven) court, where dance with music is a daily affair by the celestial nymphs (Apsaras like Urvarshi, Menoka, Tilottama etc) was hampered immensely. ‘Narada’ was told that lord Shiva had to sing again for remedy. After request, Lord Shiva agreed but He put one condition. He will sing in front of the genuine audience like Lord Brahma and Vishnu. It is said that hearing the song of lord Shiva, all the rags and raginies were rejuvenated again but Lord Vishnu’s feet was sweated which Lord Brahma collected and thus the river Ganges was created. It is nothing but a story of the effect of perfect music or melodious sound. Flute is the most enchanting musical instrument in India. As we can see the images of Lord Krishna with flute in hand. A bone flute of 35000 years old has been found in the Hohle Fel cave near Ulm, Germany, establishes the musical tradition at that time.
We are thrilled to see in the cinema shows how Tansen’s (The great Guru of music) song produced fire and rain. Musical therapy has now been admitted in the medical science with brilliant results on men, animal as well as trees as alleged. We just can feel that some music sooths our mind and nicely works as an anti depression panacea. It was told that there is no education greater than songs (“no vidya songitopari”). Songs are one kind of worship and the way of achieving God (shiddhi). Songs with an earnest appeal to God are like a substitution of mantras. God blessed Meera bai, Kamala Kanta, Ramprosad simply for their earnest appeal through their songs.
Simple “Ramdhun: Raghupati Raghaba Raja Ram / Patita pawana Sita Ram” the most favorite song of Mahatma Gandhi or “Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare / Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Hare Hare”, the prime mantra of the Vaishnava, has tremendous engrossing effects in our mind.
I do not know why sad songs are more popular than other styles of music. Sad songs are able to create an indelible impression on our mind. That’s why we remember them for long time. The Hindi song, “O duniyaki rakhawale” (O the keeper of whole universe) by Md. Rafi, “Mai tere pyar main sara alam kho baithe” (I’ve lost my whole world in your love) or “amar sakol dukher pradip jwele karbo nibedon / Aamar byather puja hoyni somapon” (o my lord, I have to surrender all my sorrows to you like a candle / My worship of pain has not yet completed) by R. N. Tagore, have a unique appeal to us. If these songs are being sung in the tune of rocks or “Dhinka Chika”, (it has no meaning) the effect will definitely be irritating. Short rhythmic songs like rocks / short beat songs like ‘Dhinka Chika’ possess some extra ordinary inspiring quality for the young and the children mainly to dance spontaneously. If we play a soft music in a dimly lighted room with calm and quite situation, we can soothe our nervous system easily.
We have emerged in the ocean of sound. Myriad sounds are passing through us but our ears are made in such a unique way that excepting some specific range of frequency we cannot receive it. If it would not be so, then we would have gone mad. Recent sound pollution compelled us to be mad also automatically. In ancient Indian philosophy, sound ie ‘naad’ or ‘shabda’ is called as ‘Brahman’. ‘Ohm’ is the prime sound on the earth, which bears deep meaning, and immense power. By chanting only this mantra one can curb one’s depression, as preached by our Rishis & saints.
Whether the man invented music at first and verbal communication later is difficult to ascertain. However, when we see that a male bird sings to lure his partner, then we can say that music was invented first. Some say that mother is the first musician or singer. Could we ever forget the lullaby of our mother? It is a boon to human that can utter thousands array of sound, which other animals or birds cannot. It seems that men first started to imitate natures’ sound as well as different animals roaring and then represented the same to his fellows to make them understand.
Any kind of sound or word, whether it bears any meaning or not, when written or spoken, whatever it may be, affects our mind and body simultaneously. When mother, while embracing her child, utters ‘wooble wooblo gabloo’, the child gigs and rightly understands the actual meaning. The cultivator, while ploughing field or driving his cart, directs his bullock with meaningless sounds, which were understood by them only. Very recently, two elephant kids were transferred abroad from India. Two handlers were also went there and stayed for six months to adapt them to their new environment but the problem occurred when those handlers returned to India. They became very restless, ate nothing and went almost out of control. The authority solved the problem by recording the directives over mobile phone from Indian handlers like singing, meaningless traditional sounds prevailing amongst handlers and amplifying them to the elephant kids.
Whenever a radio is on and tuner is set to the particular radio station some meaningless sounds emerged. Scientists are researching day and night to detect those high frequency sounds coming from outside the universe.
Everybody knows the effect of a meaningful sound. A simple slang “Sala” (Brother-in-law) is amply used in colloquial language without any effect but sometimes it becomes the cause of a great altercation. We are habituated to hear the slangs in English cinema that matters nothing but if we want to introduce the same in our daily life, it may cause chaos. What happens when a word or sentence is entered through the ear and transmitted to brain and how our hands response is well known to all as we can see in our everyday life in buses or trains. Ramkrishna Paramhansha said: after many sadhanas a man’s voice becomes polite. After lodging a complaint or a conversation to any call centre of any mobile company / NGO, we have experienced the stereotyped polite voice wishing us happy day that actually impress nothing; as it seems like a heartless & lifeless courtesy. What does it require to be so artificial is best known to themselves.
An unauthenticated myth tells that Beethoven’s father was a strict and harsh teacher who used to beat a drum near his ear in order to overcome the fear of drum’s sound, which caused him deaf in future life. However, it was a fact that he feared to a great extent to lose his hearing at the time of war. An excerpt: “A particular trauma for Beethoven occurred during the period in May 1809, when the attacking forces of Napoleonbombarded Vienna. According to Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven, very worried that the noise would destroy what remained of his hearing, hid in the basement of his brother's house, covering his ears with pillows. He was composing the "Emperor" Concerto at the time” (Wikipedia).
It is said that sound never dies but spreads through the atmosphere just like the wave and return to us. Ah! How it would have been if our receiver ear could hear the conversations of Lord Krishna and Partha during the great war in ‘Kurukshetra’ (the place where the Great War happened) or the preaches of Jesus Christ to his disciples!
Once I was waiting in the Bus stand of the heart of the town Kolkata, waiting for the last bus… it came… but did not stop. I was bewildered. An aged lady, who was standing by me asked what had happened. After hearing my distress, she uttered a simply word “Aha!” in so sweet and hearty means that till I can remember it. A simple word if spoken softly from the core of the heart can change the mind and easily touch the heart of others. Even how a simple word written as comment online can impress or change the feelings of the receiver is well known. All of us are craving for love, affection, sweet and polite words, which we hardly can provide often forgetting that ‘courtesy cost nothing.’