Mar 202015

Playing in’Waltz Time’ – Ummpapa, Ummpapa – but the rhythm section is adding triplets and other faster tempos and we hear far more than four beats to the bar.

“The musical component comes first”, we are always saying – remember balance, rhythm and measure. It is simply that here there is an absence of melody so that the sound world feels disordered, meaningless – random pulses of pressure in both ears.

The suck of water over somebody’s head
The play of morning sunlight on water
The smoke of wood fire
Burning bodies
Oarsmen dipping their oars
The cry of river birds
Hawkers rustling their trinkets out of plastic bags
The click of tourist cameras

The river does not play a strict 4:4 tempo, it could be 11:4 or 15:4, or anything, and only the occasional snatches of a tune. But not one we can recognize. and not a strict tempo, but somehow we know it is waltz time  and can follow a pulse.

And the colour is blue. Again not that the river is strictly. Blue. It looks muddy brown, and they say here that it is heavily polluted by massive amounts of effluent from chemical factories and the rotting detritus of the more than hundred million people living one or two hundred miles upstream.

Not a blue that we can recognize. But it is blue nonetheless and pure – balance, rhythm and measure – structure and process. Here some say that the river is pure from flowing through Shiva’s dreadlocks, and the blue is from his throat and comes with the blessing of the worldly poison which he destroyed by drinking according to the story of legend. Others prefer to say the blue is in the flow, Shakti, and belongs to the colour of Kali’s or Durga’s body, it is a total, all immersing blue.

Ganga-ji, the river Ganges.