Writings about Music

One Nature of Collaboration

Akbar and Tansen visiting Haridas in the forest.

Regarding the nature and value of collaborations in music, what pops into my mind is the story of Akbar the Great, one of the most important patrons of the arts from history, and his interaction with Tansen and Haridas. Tansen was one of the Nine Jewels, himself representing music, supported by Akbar’s court. However, Tansen’s teacher, Haridas, was an even greater musician. The reason for this, believed by Tansen, was that Haridas performed only for God, living alone in the forest, and never for human ears. Thus, one may fairly state that Haridas was collaborating with God, or nature if you prefer, this being his sole inspiration. Myself, I relate to this approach, composing for the Meruvina rather than traditional musicians.

Haridas and Tansen are the originators of a gharana whose disciples over centuries include Ravi Shankar, myself studying with his senior disciple, Harihar Rao.


A discourse between Maui and the Sun is one way to hear Honu Morning. While my composition is purely about music, or perhaps a morning in the life of a honu (that would be as close as I’ve gotten to Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf), there is a feeling of conversation between kane and trumpet. Pondering whom that conversation might be between, I imagined the Polynesian demigod, Maui, represented by the kane, engaging with the sun, portrayed by the trumpet, related to the legend of how Maui prevailed upon the sun to move more slowly across the sky for increased daylight hours.

- Michael Robinson, August 2016, Los Angeles


© 2016 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


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