India spearheads global music-ecology project

India spearheads global music-ecology project

‘prthivim dharmana dhrtam’ signifies Dharma as sustainer of the earth

As the
World celebrates World Earth Day on April 22, Indian musician Chitravina N
Ravikiran is galvanising artistic support for the planet. His brainchild, the Planet
Symphony Orchestra (PSO)
 has brought
together celebrated performers, orchestras and students (of
diverse countries and systems of music) to record music aimed to
highlight the pressing issue of global warming and climatic change. 

A number
of celebrity artists from every part of the world as well as select
orchestras have been involved in the PSO's historic global audio recording
project of the Climatrix Symphony, a 8-minute, 12-part, 72-scale piece that
symbolizes the dissonant rapid changes in the earth's climate everywhere. 
While a number of them have sent their recordings, many are in the process
of doing so, as a sign of solidarity with the international music

can participate by download score and a rough audio of
the Climatrix Symphony from: (Parts will be shared upon request.) Then they
need to record 10-20 seconds (orchestras 15-30 seconds) of the music in
any noise-free location including home/normal rehearsal spaces and email
Wav (16-bit, 44100 Hz) or high-quality MP3s to

N Ravikiran, the founder of Melharmony, which is co-ordinating the effort, says
that many eminent Indian artistes have already sent their recordings including
danseuse Dr Vyjayantimala Bali, Bansuri player Pandit Ronu Majumdar, Mridangam
Vidwan Karaikkudi Mani, Bickram Ghosh, Sitar Maestro Purybayan Chatterjee,
Mandolin U Rajesh, Violinist M Chandrashekaran and noted film violinist V S

other musicians including violinists A Kanyakumari, Embar Kannan, Akarai sisters, mridangam vidwan T V
Gopalakrishnan are also participating in this project.

As the
project gains momentum, it is interesting to see the various links between
India’s music and her unique Dharmic view of ecology. It is imperative that the
world is aware of India’s unique position on Sustenance and Sustainability, Dr
Pankaj Jain, Associate Professor Department of Philosophy and
Religion University of North Texas, has written in his book Dharma and
Ecology of Indian Communities.

As “the dharmic Indic traditions have [inspired]
Indians to limit their needs” (pg 120), dharma could “be developed as an
alternative anthropological category to study Indic traditions [and]
successfully applied as an overarching term for the sustainability of the
ecology, environmental ethics, and the religious lives of Indian villagers” (pg
3), writes Dr Jain. Etymologically, Dharma is derived from Sanskrit dhr meaning
to sustain, support, or hold. In the Vedas prthivim dharmana dhrtam signifies Dharma
as sustainer of the earth.

N Ravikiran says the sukshmas of Dharma
as a concept has been brought out by several of India’s great composers many of
them describing God as embodiment of Dharma. “Our culture is very close to the
nature. The Saptha Svaras are derived, even if they are not exactly, from the
sounds of animal calls. Sa is peacock, Ri Rishabham is the bull, Ga is the
Goat, Ma is the Heron bird, Pa is nightingale, Dha is Horse and Ni is elephant.
This symbolising ways also helped as a pneumonic for children to visualise
sounds with some animal or bird. More than that, the learning of music used to
be very close to nature, mostly outdoors.”

composition the Climatrix Symphony,
which forms the basis of this project, is an 8 minute, 12 part, 72 scale
composition. It was composed for a full orchestra of 100 members and was
performed by an orchestra in Wisconsin. Says Ravikiran, “From the Indian
classical perspective it covers all the 72 parent scales of Indian music. The
twelve chakras or twelve movements in this composition could be symbolising the
twelve months of the year. Within these 12, there are certain consonants parts and
certain dissonant parts. So the symbolism here is that weather patterns are
getting random and dissonant. The idea is to get everyone to start taking note
of the changes in our planet so that there is a dialogue happening. They aim to
send this to decision makers in different countries. If we are able to inspire
the common man to take small steps to help ward off global warming,” its aim
will be fulfilled.

Prof Pankaj S Joshi, an astrophysicist who specializes in compact objects
such as black holes and currently a vice chancellor and founding director of
the International Center for Cosmology at the Charusat University in Anand,
India, supporting the project, spoke of the Butterfly effect
in modern environmental sciences. “This means that if a butterfly flaps its
wings here, there could be a storm created thousands of miles away. The effect
can multiply, that is the idea. The problem is that the common man all over the
world is not aware of the magnitude of the problem and so as a result we keep
on doing what we are doing. But the problem is that suddenly we hear that the
disease is in the third stage, the cancer is in the fourth stage and there is
no going back. That is why I think this project is important. The art can
sensitise the masses, while science provides the core facts. Their coming
together can create a magical effect.”

Many of the Indian artistes spoken in support of
the cause

Tabla Virtuoso Bickram Ghosh -

Trilok Gurtu -

Ghatam Karthik -

Karaikudi R Mani -

Sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee -

Bansuri player Ronu Manjumdar -

Vaijayanti Mala Bali -