Lockdown Music

Lockdown Music

We, humans, are inherently social animals. And we “social” creatures are being asked to maintain social distancing. Oh, the irony!

Haven’t we all experienced a physiological and psychological stress when we were (or are still) isolated? And I am sure we all have had the realization about our degree of socialness during these unprecedented times in past few months.

With lockdowns and physical distancing (I wouldn’t term it social distancing!), a commonly observed fact these days is that most of us have developed a hobby or escape that is helping us beat the anxiety of this pandemic. Personally, in order to ensure that coronavirus doesn’t affect my mental wellbeing, I resorted to my all-time saviour – ‘Music’. I have always loved music and this love for music had landed me at Sangeet Sadhana. Having regular music classes virtually even during lockdown really helped me. As I learn about music, I am all the more amazed by it.

While calm Indian classical music has always helped me, my musical journey during lockdown was not just limited to Hindustani classical. This lockdown exposed me to an entirely different genre of music - ‘Bird Music’

Thanks to my dad’s gardening skills, we have a beautiful balcony garden (Images on the lemy balcony garden). This has now become home to many birds who keep visiting these red flowers, sucking the nectar, making nests, laying eggs and living along with us 😊 And now that we are locked down in our houses and noise levels are relatively lower, I can hear these birds so clearly. In fact, I can discern around eight-ten different birdcalls early in the day. Since lockdown, I hear more singing and chirping of birds during day time. I had read once, that the birds communicate more when there is less noise around.

At times, it makes me wonder if there are more birds in my neighbourhood these days or am I just paying more attention to them? During normal times when trips and treks were usual, the wanderlust in me had taken me to many beautiful places. The sensation of traversing through roads less travelled was a bliss those days. Now that I can’t travel, I have found a way to connect with nature and that is nothing but bird music. A bird sound gives us more than a sensation of place—it triggers a connection with nature instantly.

These days I wake up to the symphony of birds and it has made me realize that bird music is a wonderful way to reconnect with nature and shift our focus away from the urban chaos that is often part of our daily lives. Even researches have proved that, of all the natural sounds, bird songs and calls are most often cited as helping people recover from stress, and allowing them to restore and refocus their attention. Having realized this, I have now made it a routine. I sit in my balcony in the wee hours of the day and close my eyes. For about 10

minutes, I do nothing but listen and focus on the sounds that I hear. My observation is that as nature’s creatures get comfortable with us (or rather we get accustomed to them), their sounds become more synchronized and harmonized, making it even more soothing and relaxing.

Our kinship with bird music dates back to a very long time. Throughout history, birds have been our allies, often serving as central figures in a culture’s myths and fables. Poets admired nature and bird songs to such an extent that a Latin poet and philosopher Lucretius attributed bird songs as the origin of human singing.

“Through all the woods, they heard the charming noise Of chirping birds, and tried to frame their voice And imitate. Thus, birds instructed man, And taught them songs before their art began”

One observed fact is that like humans, birds seem to put a bit of personality into each performance. And this requires some intelligence. Scientists are of the opinion that the kind of complicated behaviour acted out by such a simple species definitely makes us think that, what they’re doing is not human, instead what we do is a little more like what birds do than we might think.

I should admit that this musical metaphor has kept me sane during these times. As much as I am thrilled to be enjoying this return of birds, I am also equally concerned that once everything opens up and we get back to our usual lifestyle, the birds will once more retreat from our lives. The benefits of technology are many, but they have come with a price. We have drifted away from nature. Most children growing up in Indian cities may, at a stretch, be able to point out crows and pigeons. But there is a rich diversity of birds surrounding us reminding of the continuing power of birdsong to inspire and move us. It’s vital that we preserve this birdsong.

Meanwhile, as I type this, I can hear a ‘kicky-kicky-chew-chew’ outside my balcony. Excuse me while I step out to see who that is!

"Veena works as a Strategy consultant in KPMG post her B.Tech and MBA. She has keen interest in various art forms. In her free time, she enjoys listening to classical music, playing ukelele, painting and DIY artwork.She is a nature lover and enjoys trekking and exploring roads less travelled/offbeat places. Born and brought up in Mumbai, she has travelled and stayed at multiple places in India over the years. Like everyone else, she is eagerly waiting for pandemic to end and resume her travel plans :)"

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