Writings about Music

Infinite Varieties of Shringara Rasa

Frank Sinatra

Responding to the notion American culture is trash culture, it occurred to me how quality in artistic endeavor has always been and always will be the rare exception amidst the ordinary and less.

Quality is epiphany illuminated by a jewel of the lotus, with "epiphany" representing momentous insight, "lotus" the world, "jewel" the individuality of the inventor, and "illuminated" the technical wizardry used to communicate the creation.

Oftentimes quality results from fresh assimilations of diverse influences, such as Chuck Berry expressing profound admiration for the Only the Lonely album by Frank Sinatra, finding what he termed as "blues" transcending more traditional blues forms.

Frank Sinatra was a rasa master, gifting us infinite varieties of Shringara rasa, including Strangers In the Night, a song suggesting how an initial erotic attraction may evolve into something transcendentally deeper and more lasting. What Sinatra and Bob Dylan have in common is a boundless passion for learning about and knowing songs more so than others even in their own field, an example of how genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

Artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Lester Young and Lee Konitz, among myriad others, were deeply influenced by the emotional depth and nuanced differentiation Frank Sinatra drew from standards, treating each classic song he interpreted individually, illuminating their unique virtues and psychological shadings with myriad musical attributes including an uncanny sense of time and phrasing.

The saloon singer was also a brave champion against discrimination towards African American and Jewish Americans. When his name came up in conversation at a reception celebrating the publication of his memoirs, Rabbi Marvin Hier related with still fresh wonderment and gratitude how Sinatra was the primary fundraiser for the creation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

- Michael Robinson, October 2022, Los Angeles


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Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, jazz pianist and musicologist. His 190 albums include 151 albums for meruvina and 39 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.