As nature inspires all forms of art, Earth Day is being celebrated by creating a special harmony.
All set aside to celebrate mother earth and nature, Earth Day Network, a global body operating through volunteers in nearly 200 countries is promoting nature through art.
Set up some 50 years ago, it is channeled through ambassadors. Three of them, linked to the world of music, belong to India, namely, Oscar-nominated Bombay Jayashri, youth icon Kaushiki Chakravorty and Grammy-awardee Ricky Kej.
As Ricky put it, “as a musician, music has not inspired me as a musician, Nature has. Taking from Nature is simply a way of returning back to Nature for me. In my belief, music evolved from within Nature, as sounds of Nature were copied into music. Sounds of birds, wind, rain, animal sounds were imitated and made pleasing to the human ear, and that was how music evolved. To make music pleasing to the ears, you require training, playing with other musicians, creating harmony and a soothing sound. Nature doesn’t need all of this – its inherently harmonious. Just spend some time in a forest and listen to the sounds of nature and you are automatically calmed.”
Padmashri Chitra Visweswaran who has virtually pioneered a new style of Bharatnatyam, known for its graceful, “Nature” inspired movements puts the influence of Nature into the context of dance. In her words “There is no doubt that Nature inspires all art forms. What better teacher, nay Guru could one have than Prakriti herself! In Natyam, it is not just the lyrics describing Nature that are set to melody and danced to, but Nature itself is drawn upon to create imagery, and elaboration of ideas. Beautiful images can be created by an imaginative dancer who is capable of reading between the lines and creating the mood – for instance in showing “shringaar” detailing of Nature, one can depict flowers creepers bees the breeze even …..I personally have used compositions devoted to Nature by Kalidas, Jaideva, Adi Shankara amongst others. I have done an entire production called “Sneha”, in 1992, which dealt with environment.
My Guru Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai never talked about a movement, he used to say ‘look out of a window and dance,’” she says.
Vice chancellor of the Bhatkhande University in Lucknow, Shruti Sadolikar says, “In our north Indian tradition, we have specific Ragas of Spring, Ragas for the monsoons. The notes themselves come to represent the elements, one does not need to hear the lyrics. I would say in the last 4-500 years, most compositions that have been passed down to us deal with Nature in some way or another, whether directly or indirectly. It’s not only in the “khayal” tradition, it’s in the Haveli sangeet tradition practiced in Krishna temples too. One of my favourite compositions in the Haveli sangeet tradition is by Kumbhan Das of the 17th century.
Continuing, Shruti ji says, “I also feel artists are more sensitive to Nature, we notice it more. My Guru of thumri, Gullubhai Jasdanwallah would say to me when we were travelling and crossing great distances “dekho yahan ki mitti ka rang alag hai.” (see the colour of earth is different here)
Violin maestro Mysore Manjunath goes so far as to say, unless an artist is in tune with Nature, and inspired by it, he cannot be a good artist. He says “I choose to live in an area which has a big green garden in which I spend as much time in. I always spend as much time I can on quiet beaches, in the early morning or evening. You realize how small, you are in comparison with the greatness of the ocean. My creativity seems to wither unless I remain in contact with Nature.”
Talking on music, he says, “even our instruments are fashioned by nature. The wood with which all instruments are made, is soaked in running water. Vivaldi’s “4 Seasons”, arguably the most well known composition in the world, deals with the 4 seasons, and even without lyrics, the notes are used to depict the features of each season, very successfully, I feel.”