Ayurveda: Art of Being
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Several years back I was exposed to this wonderful documentary, Ayurveda: Art of Being. It’s an exquisite exposition of the science of life and is accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack composed by Cyril Morin. The woman performing the Ayurvedic chants, Vidya Rao, is well known for her traditional Sanskrit chanting. It is quite mesmerizing and the most intriguing thing to me is how to Western ears, some of the tonal intervals used in ancient Vedic chanting may sound somewhat eerie. Though this could be interpreted in multiple ways. One way that comes to mind is how it alters the consciousness while listening to it.

Musically speaking, where it sounds like augmented 4th intervals are being used in the chants, this creates tension which also could be considered to represent an edge between two spaces or two planes of existence. I find this fascinating and it also relates to a fairly common chord used in Western music, the major 7th. A major 7th is constituted by a standard major triad with the addition of a major 7th above the triad. The interesting part is that an augmented 4th is a half step below the 5th, the most resonant note after the octave, and the major 7th is a half step below the octave. Major sevens are often used to represent more ethereal moments in music, something uplifting with a mystical sensibility to it, another kind of edge.

Both of these acoustic phenomena create some form of tension and awareness between two places that are only experienced emotionally and psychologically. We do not know of the physical planes that they create the edges between, yet we feel them. Such an incredible aspect of music how with all of our capacity to relate to it, at times it can also create these mysteries, these invitations to something beyond it. Once you become more familiar with these intervals and chords you might notice them much more often because composers and artists are fond of using this naturally occurring musical tension. It is another expression of music where only our emotional aptitude may help us to comprehend it. I recommend track 11, The Meaning, as a good example of the augmented 4th as well as other augmented intervals that bend the typical rules of Western music. Although verbally inexpressible, maybe it will lend to you something familiar and only knowable through your limbic system and neurophysiology.

More info about Vidya Rao:

Ayurveda: Art of Being – full soundtrack

Ayurveda: Art of Being – full movie