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cpiasminc
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June 26, 2012 - 2:40 pm
Member Since: June 1, 2012
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Hm...  I realized in retrospect that I never actually went through the introductions prior to making a few posts.  So, I might as well do it now (better late than never, I suppose).

I go by "cpiasminc" on a lot of boards as an indirect reference to a research group I founded when I was around 10.  The real name is Parashar, and the short version of my story is that I originally played as a kid, didn't continue, and now I'm trying to re-learn and finding myself essentially starting from square one.  A slightly longer version is that I'd studied the Carnatic (South Indian classical) form of music, and performed for some time up until I was around 13 or so where I started to slow down in music studies in lieu of academic pursuits (I also started publishing papers and articles in various journals around this time).  I think the last time I even touched a violin prior to picking it up recently was when I was 15.  In the end, music was not something I could really remove from my character and I ended up still taking a second major in Music Theory in college -- though I never actually finished it because I had a job offer straight out after finishing my first major.  I wonder if that makes me half a college dropout?

In essence, my knowledge and understanding of music is pretty well light years beyond where it ever was when I was a kid, but I no longer have it in my hands, so I'm trying to get to that point where the improvised tunes I can dream up in my head at any given moment can come out on the strings.  I'm not really looking to perform again.  At the very least, though, I know what I should be doing and the knowledge I have now helps me identify problems a little more quickly.  Though my schedule always gets in the way.  For the past month, for instance, I've literally been working 20 hours a day every day as I'm running countless simulations in order to present this research I've been working on (the paper got accepted in two journals, and one of the presentations is at the end of this week).

For those wondering about the Carnatic style of music, the main thing that differs between it and Western music is really that the fundamental definition of a note is simply not the same.  We define a "note" as more of a "shape" in pitch than a specific pitch, which overall makes pitch an implicit quality.  Pretty much the only pitches that rarely receive this sort of treatment are the tonic and the just perfect fifth -- this is also why I have to tune my strings a bit differently.  Sliding/oscillating movements of the fingering, doing phrases with only one finger on one string, slurs, etc. are pretty much foundational, and doing without them is actually the minority case.  The term we use is "gamaka", but the same principles generally apply throughout all Indian music, and it infects the Bollywood tunes you might hear as well, though the specifics are where it all differs.  My weakest area when I played had always been rhythm, though, and Carnatic music is definitely heavy on rhythmic complexity especially compared to the Northern Indian classical counterpart.  People will subdivide prime number gaits into power-of-two length cycles and keep improvising phrases until it lines up as if it was just second nature.  People do tunes in 100 count-per-measure time signatures just because it sounds like an interesting challenge.  But to me, that's the part of this type of music I love the most because it doesn't subscribe to this notion that intellectually stimulating music with massive technical depth and theoretical complexity must be separate from music which is aesthetically pleasing to hear.

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coolpinkone
California, the place of my heart
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June 26, 2012 - 4:52 pm
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Hello! Your post is most informative and well written. Nice to "meet" you. Enjoy your playing to the full. Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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dionysia
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June 26, 2012 - 9:25 pm
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Interesting introduction. I have to ask [and I'm sure others are wondering] what field you work in when you are not pursuing music?

I find Carnatic music fascinating, and I love watching the videos of the violinists. I even tried out that foot-braced hold and it wasn't too bad. smile

 

Welcome! 

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cpiasminc
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June 26, 2012 - 9:52 pm
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I used to work in the video game industry (for about 8 years as an engineer, though briefly as a musician prior to that), but now I work in movies, mainly dealing in graphics/rendering technology and research. My actual role makes me something of a blend between R&D and direct technology development/support for the films themselves.

Although the end product is technically animated films (at Dreamworks), my day to day work makes me more of a pure mathematician dealing with solving problems in the realm of computational/analytic geometry, statistical analysis, Fourier analysis, Monte Carlo simulations of light scattering behaviors, and so on.  The research I mentioned that I'm working on is basically solving the problem of how to perform importance sampling of the probability distribution functions of light scattering behaviors in volumes of microstructure geometries such as hair and feathers -- interesting discovery is that when it comes to behaviors of light per strand, there is very little difference between human hair and colored fiberglass.  Prior to this point, everybody had been doing it brute force with an exhaustive Monte Carlo approach, but this work makes it ~4x more efficient.

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ftufc
SoCal
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June 26, 2012 - 10:16 pm
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Welcome Parashar!  What an interesting background.  My only exposure to the work you do is my prior casual interest in fractals.  The integration of math into natural aspects of life [music included] just blow me away.

And you've actually answered a question I've long had regarding certain Eastern music; without knowing anything about Carnatic music, only hearing it, you can pretty easily intuit that the notes that make up that music aren't the traditional notes/pitches that Western music uses but I just couldn't get my head around the difference; you explained it very clearly.

Again, welcome to FM Forum; looking forward to hearing your perspectives.

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dionysia
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June 26, 2012 - 11:34 pm
Member Since: January 25, 2012
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Fascinating work CP. I only wish I had the foresight to get involved with computer graphics back when I had the chance. Instead I just became a college math burnout. tongue

 

I look forward to hearing more from you. I especially like the idea of music as shapes.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
June 27, 2012 - 8:14 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11702

Nice to meet you cpiasminc,

We look forward to your future posts and maybe learn more about Carnatic music through your progress. Many people here post their progress to get advice which is similar to playing for a teacher and getting feedback but a lot cheaper. 🙂

Good luck with your renewed pursuit to learn playing the violin.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cpiasminc
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June 27, 2012 - 6:25 pm
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ftufc said
Welcome Parashar!  What an interesting background.  My only exposure to the work you do is my prior casual interest in fractals.  The integration of math into natural aspects of life [music included] just blow me away.

And you've actually answered a question I've long had regarding certain Eastern music; without knowing anything about Carnatic music, only hearing it, you can pretty easily intuit that the notes that make up that music aren't the traditional notes/pitches that Western music uses but I just couldn't get my head around the difference; you explained it very clearly.

Curiously enough, at the time I was attending (my school was UIUC), they had a really screwed up fine arts college that had some weird legacy rules that required things like lengthy portfolio reviews and recommendation processes prior to entry into any given fine arts program.  As such they made certain programs like music, very difficult and tedious to get into for people already in other majors...  unless they were grad students in other majors, in which case, the rules didn't apply to them.  Anyway, they tried to alleviate this with "outsider" programs like the one I enrolled in -- so technically, my second major was a music theory major, but it was not through the fine arts college...  it was for a Bachelor of Science in Music Theory.

The rules have since changed, and such programs are no longer needed, but it's still amusing to think of it in retrospect.

In regards to the other matter, yeah, it's part of the thing that makes for the characteristically "Indian" sound.  There is the difference between equal temperament and just temperament, but that's actually a minor factor.  Just yesterday, I experimented with playing a few common ragas in equal temperament, and they still retained their basic character (what we call "bhaavam").  It might get a little hairy with a few specific ragas where we play things just a little off due to historical reasons and how they've colored people's perceptions of that basic character.

To give you an example.  I can take a raga like Sankarabharanam, which you can probably try yourself -- the raw pitches are equivalent to that of a Major scale.  But since you generally don't play the raw pitches, just playing tunes in a major scale doesn't really give you Sankarabharanam.  You'll play a second, for instance, by sliding from the tonic to the third, and then oscillating back and forth between the third and the second -- though that only applies when you're ascending in pitch to reach the second.  When descending, you just plain glissando.  You do the same thing with the fourth and the sixth where you slide from the note one down to the one above and oscillate back to and fro the note you actually want to play.  Playing the third when ascending is much the same, except without the continuing oscillation.

Of course, that's just a baseline definition, and the demands of aesthetics means you drift from these rules, often based on how quickly you're moving across different pitches or if you're repeating pitches and so on.  Beyond a certain speed, for instance, oscillations just become regular trills, and then there's no point in being explicit.  There are also stylistic variations -- sometimes people will forego the oscillation between the fifth and the fourth for an entire verse just in order to stress the 2nd-3rd and 5th-6th relationship.

I've did a demonstration for my school way back where I applied the basic rules of Sankarabharanam to Twinkle Twinkle, and it makes for something radically different in spite of using the same notes.  Since there are leaps in pitch with Twinkle Twinkle, you generally include at least one such oscillation cycle on the first iteration of each note...  and when making leaps down down in pitch you'll have to start at least one interval up and slide down to the note on the first iteration.

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dionysia
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June 27, 2012 - 7:02 pm
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A lot of this goes over my head since I have no background in music, but I would be interested in hearing that rendition of Twinkle. I think a video is in order!

gold_star<-- no animation, so you will have to imagine the twinkling!

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