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September 2011

Silence and Pause in Indian Classical Music
- Sandhyavandanam Madhva Muni Rao, Bangalore
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I have been reading, observing and listening to the various discussions on the role of Silence in Music, Indian Classical Music, in specific. The discussions are mostly inspired by western points of view and applying them to Indian Classical Music.
Silence and Pauses are two aspects in Indian Classical Music. They are distinct and different.

The Performing musicians are creative artists. During the performance(s), they get creative moments and ideas for communication and presentation. To offer, communicate and present a creative idea based sangati or sanchara, they need to stop the flow and start afresh. This process of momentary stop or gap (correctly) in the flow, is pause. It is not Silence. Fortunately, rarely, the creative artist comes up with excellent ideas and its presentation. Unfortunately, in reality, no new, afresh and excellent ideas and its presentation happens. Expectation and excitement is aroused and ends with ordinary sangati or sanchara, serving only the committed rasikas of the artist, who get the feeling of fresh and new experience, with the deliberate and conscious indulgence by the performer.

The Silence happens when the performing artist is drawn creatively sub-conscious and totally inward and in perfection, reaches pinnacles of pure and sublime Nada and its effects, all pervading and all consuming. The pervasiveness and consumption, is realized only after the real creative moments, performance and delivery. The moments, when both the performer and the rasika are in the state of suspended animation caused by the beuty (stunningly) is verily, the Silence! The awareness and its impact and benefits, happen after the Silence is over.

The pauses serve the limited purpose of arresting the attention or even testing the preparedness or patience of the rasika. But, Silence, a very rare phenomenon, is truly blissful moment(s).