Indian Classical music notation

Quick jottings on what I’ve found in this space

Sometime back, during my general browsing in the “fonts” and “typography” space, I started wondering about music notations.

I was curious as to why Indian classical music – Hindustani / Carnatic – does not have a standard or an agreed upon notation. And some bit of lazy search on the web resulted in knowing about the work done by these two gentlemen in the field of musical notation: Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, and Vishnu Digambar Paluskar
It is good to know their notations are being combined into a notation, which hopefully will become some form of a standard:

I understand there are several “informal” notations being followed (not necessarily complete, or one everyone agrees on):

“Without Fear” – life & trial of Bhagat Singh

I had no idea who Bhagat Singh was, except for the mentions in the popular press. This didn’t amount to much, and I pictured him as a young man, full of fevour and zeal, who tried to prove he was a patriot, and ended up killing a British man to prove that.

How wrong I was.

I am glad I picked up Kuldip Nayar’s “Without Fear” – a book about Bhagat Singh, and his life, and the trial that convicted him. The book is well written, and captures the essence of Bhagat Singh and his views.
I was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of thought, purpose, and articulation in Bhagat Singh’s writings.
He turned out to be a well-read young man (he was 25 when he was hanged) with an unwavering objective – initiate a revolution, rid the British from India, and make India a socialist country – and a deeper understanding of what it means to be a socialist, and an atheist.

Bhagat Singh’s concern for people, as individuals, and his expressed love for his family – especially his last letter to his brother – brings his humanity, and big-heartedness to the fore.
His conflicts – of ideas, methods, and philosophy – with that of Gandhi, as detailed in their writings about, and to, each other, were an eye-opener too.
I intend to read a bit more of his writings, and the books that he recommends (Books by / about Marx, Lenin, Trotsky), to understand the ideas of this man, and his humanity better.

Functional conference, 2015

Last year, I had attended the rather useful, first edition of the, Functional conference, and returned this year too.

I walked in when the keynote, by Amit Rathore, was in progress. The talk seemed to veer in the direction of “functional-programming-awesome, functional-programmers are ninjas, or some equivalent fighter hero types”. I am not big fan of that sort of messaging; it does not appeal to me. But it was interesting to note that Amit’s company continued to build on the advantages that functional languages provided, and were able to keep the organization nimble and productive, considering their mission to disrupt the media industry. Continue reading “Functional conference, 2015”

KDB+, Bangalore meetup, and more

Noticed a “kx community” appear on meetup, a few months ago, and decided to join that one. I was always intrigued by the language K, J, and subsequently Q. The accompanying database kdb+ is an interesting one too. This combination of languages and database has worked well in the time-series analysis domain. These product from Kx Systems – the company that provide K, Q, kdb+ – has consistently appeared on the STAC benchmarks for years now.

The terseness of the K, and Q languages and their performance capabilities were attractive propositions, to me. I didn’t have a sufficiently rich time-series analysis problem, to utilize the power of these languages.

Serendipitously, this meetup came along, and also a talk by a pharma company on their experience with using kdb+. I promptly decided to attend this talk, and get to know more about this kdb world.


The meetup was a good one – a room of 20plus participants, and the talk by Purdue Pharma turned out to be rather interesting too. They saw a drastic reduction in the infrastructure and people costs associated with time-series analysis, once they moved to kdb – less hardware, and reduced the team size to a couple of people (from a dozen or so previously). This was accompanied by a runtime performance boost of a couple of orders of magnitude. This seemed too good to be true – 100 times improvement in performance for a 5 times reduction in cost.

The rest of the talk focused on demonstrating this performance gain, and also how they went about integrating web technologies with kdb. Charting results using echarts (they had explored highcharts earlier, but settled on echarts because of its “efficiency & performance”. Something I heard, and am paraphrasing. Not something I have confirmed).

The kdb connectivity option with Javascript caught my attention, and it would be nice to run d3js against some of the kdb data (example of angular js with kdb).

kdb, in India

  • I suggested creating a MOOC / Coursera course, to make this knowledge more accessible (yes, the kx community exists and does a good job, but then most college graduates and people who want to learn usually would like some form of a MOOC – this has been my experience so far)
  • Talk or conduct a workshop at the Functional Conference 2015, in Bangalore. This conference is during Sep 10—13, 2015
  • More meetup talks, on kdb experiences, and also some hands-on sessions with the technology.


The Elephant Whisperer

During a busy work day, I got an email to a news item titled “Wild Elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of Elephant Whisperer”. I instantly clicked on it, and read the article, and then read it a few more times. I was left dumbfounded by what was described there. A herd of wild elephants, which had been rescued and rehabilitated with a lot of care, had trooped to their caretaker’s, Lawrence Anthony’s, house the day he passed away. They just hung around there for a couple of days, and then melted back into the bush. Continue reading “The Elephant Whisperer”

PostgreSQL: json, jsonb support

I follow, and use the pydal, and web2py projects quite closely. I like the way these projects are engineered, and the community around them.

One of the discussion points that came up was around the wonderful support for JSON, and JSONB in PostgreSQL. As part of that discussion, I started jotting down some points on the differences between the vanilla JSON, and PostgreSQL supported JSONB. These differences are described in the PostgreSQL documentation. I included the “implications” column, below. Continue reading “PostgreSQL: json, jsonb support”


M’s wife A dropped an email to us, mentioning that M’s birthday was around the corner, and that she had planned to call a few of his close friends for a small get together. The highlight being she had planned to ask Shabnam, and Vipul, of the Kabir Project fame, to attend, and sing a few of Kabir‘s songs. This was a surprise party for M.

All the invited party made it to M’s place at the appointed time. Shabnam and Vipul were on time too. After a brief introduction session to know each other, we settled down for what turned out to be an extraordinarily moving session of music, poetry, with an undercurrent of philosophy and spirituality.

Shabnam, and Vipul started singing various songs attributed to Kabir. They prefaced the songs with some context of the song, the regions where it is sung, and also the meaning of the words in the songs. This context provided a more meaningful depth to the soulful music that was sung and performed. Shabnam, and Vipul’s renditions of the songs were moving, and I was drawn into an introspection of sorts, thanks to the beauty of the words, and the tune they were set to.

They sang in the folk style of the singers from the Kutch, Bauls of Bengal, Rajasthan, and a couple of songs which Kumar Gandharv made his own.

None of us wanted this to stop. We finally dispersed after a hearty dinner, with the songs playing in our heads, and the immersive spiritualism that the songs represented.

Wonderful evening. This started off my journey on discovering the world of Kabir, his music, and spirituality.