Enhancing Your Listening Experience


Parsi Times is delighted to bring you our monthly column promoting Western Classical Music by leading connoisseur, Khushroo Suntook, Chairman of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). Mr. Suntook continues to re-acquaint you to the joys of this unparalleled form of music and invites us to relive its melodic splendour by taking us on a journey into exploring and falling in love with the great Western Classical Music form.

The next step – after starting a collection of Western Classical records or CDs or downloading online – is to plan your concert going experiences. Those of you, who have the means and wherewithal to travel, are indeed fortunate since the organisation of music festivals in Europe and elsewhere is excellent in these times, and information on the internet is truly so all-encompassing that it caters to the taste of all types of music lovers. Sites like YouTube or Medici offer brilliant and wide coverage of all types of Western Classical Music.

However, nothing will ever beat a live experience! If you live in a town which has regular musical concerts, and I believe, in Mumbai we are fortunate in this area, do try and attend as many as you can. Here, you will make friends and experience what is called the special vibrations of a live performance, which are not possible to experience when you hear it either electronically or by yourself.

Listening to music is a truly wide-ranging experience, satisfying in itself, even more enjoyable when you have companions who know as much as you do or more… but the real adrenalin rush and excitement lies in witnessing live performances which are exciting and uplifting, due to audience participation. Keep an eye out for relevant websites, and those of us who are not too tech-savvy could scan the newspapers for events in your city. Mumbai is particularly rich in this aspect and a little bit of digging can give you a lot of satisfaction!

The progression of appreciation of this great genre varies from person to person, depending, as I said before, on your family background, friends, ability to travel and otherwise. But if none of the above resources or advantages are available, how do you start? I suggest the human voice, in my view, the most beautiful instrument of them all, given the right training, begin perhaps by listening to popular Neapolitan and Italian songs by tenors like Pavarotti, Domingo etc. Perhaps you could like to access the concerts of The Three Tenors in Rome, which would make for an excellent introduction.  Once you start with these songs, you can start advancing towards the popular operas like Carmen, La Traviata, etc which are easily available online.

If you are able to lay your hands on magazines such as BBC Music Magazine and the Gramophone, which are available in most libraries, I do recommend that you read them for suggestions and a general view of the music scene. If you have friends who are knowledgeable in this area, do speak to them. They are also starved of company while listening and may welcome a mentoring role!

Thereafter you can move on to Orchestral Music and you have a whole panorama of delights awaiting you! Indians and particularly Parsis like romantic music and, of course, their God – Beethoven. The composers you should investigate may start with Mozart (try the Clarinet Concerto), Beethoven (all the symphonies and concerti), Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, and you are on your way! Good luck!!

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