Writings About Music

The Sun of Music

This aside (congratulations on being so paired!) concerning composers past brings to mind a concept of repertoire that was initially ridiculed by some British observers of the nineteenth century.

In brief, the ancient concept of raga in India was based upon the concept of praying to the deity of the particular raga to descend from heaven and bless the supplicant at the particular time of day or night that deity was most likely to respond. This is the pure basis of the time theory of ragas.

In current times, Pandit Jasraj, known as The Sun of Music in India, often begins ragas with a prayer to Vishnu or Shiva. It is a most dramatic moment, after which the raga gradually unfolds in all its glory.


Sagarmatha was inspired by a Pandit Jasraj recording of Raga Shuddha Nat


I once imagined in the notes for Carnelian Compass that if Franz Lizst’s concert journeys had gone beyond Turkey to India, he might have ended up improvising compositions based upon the local ragas played for him. No doubt, the mentioned Beethoven would have been motivated to do the same.



At the time I finished Carnelian Compass, I also learned of Yuja Wang for the first time, greatly enjoying her playing, and emailed info about the album to her. I also suggested that she have a dress made with a design similar to the cover. Several months later, I conducted an online search, and noticed that she was wearing a bright orange dress with some abstract patterns. However, I’m sure this was coincidental, or perhaps she already had this dress before made my suggestion.

- Michael Robinson, January 2016, Los Angeles


© 2016 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).