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):


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”


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.

Etruscan Places – D H Lawrence

The first book of Lawrence‘s that I read was “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” . His style of writing and expression made an impression on me; he has a certain earthiness, an empathy for all things natural, and a disdain for morals.
The second book was “Etruscan Places”  – his travelogue through the places associated with the Etruscan civilization, in Italy. There is a passage in the book where he emphasizes that death and life are continuations of one another, and that constructing palaces, or as he calls it “phallic symbols” on the face of the earth, are of no consequence when compared to the blade of grass and the life that it sustains. This is when he compares the qualities of the Etruscan civilization and their celebration of life and death, with the rather material and ambitious focus of the Romans who succeeded them. I was constantly thinking of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass“, when I read through this book.

#NGYS2014 conference

Went to the National Geography Youth Summit, 2014, in Bangalore, and it was good to see the range of talks and workshops being organized there.

  • Attended the “Introduction to open-source GIS.  (Mr. Bharat Settur, OS-GEO India)” – the introduction to QGIS, though at a rather hectic pace, gave me a sense of what it takes to use this tool, and its effectiveness. This is something I will take another look at, and will learn via the online tutorials. The workshop should have “instructions”, so that the presenter need not run through all the steps, but rather help participants if they are stuck with any of the instructions.
  • Paper presentation on “Agriculture Market And Marketing System In Pushkar Region Of Ajmer” , by Sandhya Mantorio: Rather interesting to know that most of the agriculture patterns in Pushkar are towards rose cultivation (for exports and national consumption), and that this in an area with a receding water-table and absent-landlordism. Sandhya mentioned that this work was to help the farmers understand that they are “Caught up in a trend to cultivate roses, and that they do not see the big picture – the number of middlemen involved, and the low value they earn from their efforts”.
  • Paper presentation on “Changing Population Trend With Topography”, Mohammed Hafiz: The gist of this paper was that people move from the highlands to the lowlands, for jobs and better quality of life (healthcare, education, etc). The paper was a bit sparse on the possible datapoints used to arrive at this correlation (between migration and topography), but atleast gets one thinking about this scenario, and its implications.
  • Paper presentation on “Analysis Of Age-Sex Pyramids In West Bengal 1961-2011”,  Indrita  Saha, with Ashis  Sarkar: A useful paper to understand how tracking the age-gender structure in the population provides better insight into issues related to unemployment, social development, and the like.

I wasn’t able to stay for the rest of the day. The conference is packed with other interesting sessions for the next couple of days: Will attend some of those sessions.

Also, live-tweets about the conference #NGYS2014