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Russian bells







Stefano, one of Auroville's musicians, prematurely disappeared in 2003, gives his impressions on the music dimension of the township:

If architecture is frozen music, then music is architecture in movement.. I see a city of sound that keeps transforming itself.. A city in which we live and which we keep building, every day anew.

From this perspective, I try to envisage which kind of buildings, cities, skyscrapers and cathedrals Aurovilians are creating through their expressions in music. I think for instance of the latest performance of the Auroville Choir around the New Year. Adult members of the Choir, along with the Children's Choir, and musicians of the Auroville Orchestra which worked together for the very first time, had been very creative during the many months of rehearsal and particularly during the various performances they gave of their 'New Year's Music 2000'. The result was a rich and complex ensemble of structures emerging, creating an ever changing city through which it was a breathtaking pleasure to walk.

For many Aurovilian musicians, the practice of their instrument has become a way of finding themselves after a full day of work. It has become a sort of active meditation, a way to get in touch with their inner levels, their emotions and creativity. That's probably one of the reasons why there are so many musicians in Auroville, and such a wide spectrum of musical expression. 

Music in Auroville starts - and here all of Auroville's musicians agree (a rare occasion..) - with the sound of birds.

Music in Auroville is also the blasting sound from the surrounding villages that at times wakes us up at 4 o'clock in the morning, sometimes lasting all day long, regardless of decibel limits. But that very same blasting 'music' is sometimes very graceful too and, on occasion, intense. I remember one early morning when the sound of birds was merging with some distant Muslim chanting, and it felt as if there was gold in the air.

Music in Auroville is also passing by my neighbour Gupi's house in the evening and hearing this strange music coming out of his house, it sounds like techno music mixed with the chanting of Ommmmm. Entering the house, I realise that it's his son Shanti listening to techno, while the father, only few meters away, has an Ommmm tape on. They're both completely happy and not disturbed by each other's totally different taste, and somehow both types of music seemed complementary.

Music in Auroville can also mean months and months of practicing for a concert and then, just when the performance (often in open air) is ready to start.., down comes the long awaited rain! Or the rain turns around in the shape of heavy clouds in the sky, all day long teasing you, goading your faith, threatening that it may spoil all your work and performance in the evening.

Mind you, music in Auroville also means - apart from practicing for months -, spending the day of the concert getting the sound equipment together, setting up the stage, playing your concert, dismantling all the equipment, loading it into a van, driving it back to the place of storage, and possibly paying the transport yourself!

Live concerts in the township are all year long performed, always for free. Quite regularly there are concerts and recitals of western classical music at the Pitanga Hall in the Residential Zone, or in the smaller Auro Pax hall in Auromodele.  These are either played by Aurovilians, by invited artists, or artists just passing by. Indian classical music is more frequently performed, in all its diversity: Carnatic, Hindustani, Dhrupad, Baul, sometimes given by internationally known musicians. These performances are usually given at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium at Bharat Nivas in the International Zone, which is hosting major cultural events, be they in the field of dance, music or theatre.

In particular seasons we have a Sunday night Jazz Café providing a space for people to meet and for musicians to play and improvise. Actors occasionally join in and sketches emerge out of sheer inventiveness and joy.

On the whole, music in Auroville is performed, played and enjoyed in many less official places as well, in the open air, under the full moon, in individual houses or schools, on roof tops and lately in the new amphitheater at the artist community of Kalabhumi in the Cultural Zone, where youth rock bands find space to perform.

As Auroville counts many individuals of different nationalities, backgrounds and depth, it's interesting to note that the general tendency is to play original compositions. Hence a vast display of previously unheard music is one of our main characteristics. The newness trying to express itself through Auroville, finds a great variety of modality, also in the city of sound.


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