Author Archives: ggalo

Cymbal Visuals

I’m a part of the Trojan Marching Band, and the TMB has a lot of traditions… I’m a cymbal in the drum line, where we do a fair amount of visuals. cymbal visuals are something that lots of schools do, a few examples are:

Table top: You flip your cymbal off of your hand where you catch it with the cymbal facing up, like a table.

Bucket Drop: Starting from the table top position and you flip the cymbal down, then flip it back up. So, its kind of like sticking your hand into a bucket.

Two-Handed Bucket Drop: Same as above except you have one hand go higher and the other go lower so that they don’t bang into each other.

Bishop: This one is famous in competitive DCI (Drum Corps International). You take your cymbal, and catch it on the rim like this in the air. And, you stick it by the strap of the other cymbal, so it kind of looks like your holding a gun.

Context: Informant is part of USC Trojan Marching Band. 

Thoughts: These visuals were performed live over a zoom session. The table top, bucket drop, and two-handed bucket drop seem to derive from the same base visual which starts from the table top position. The bucket drop variants involved good hand-eye coordination as the cymbals swing around the player’s wrists via the attached strap. 

Ramayana – Floating Stone Bridge

Ramayana is a story how all the gods meet each other and help each other out, you know fight evil. And it is related to one of our festivals. There is the story of Ram. Ram is one of our gods, and basically he was the king of one our capitals called [inaudible]. He was living his happy life and then before he got married his wife was kidnapped by a monster in Sri Lanka called Ravan. What happened was that the monster wanted to show off his powers, and the story goes Lord Ram contacted different gods; he went to the Himalayas; he got the support of monk and built an army. But, you know, Sri Lanka is island, and they had very large land army. So what they did was eventually, they did some prayers and contacted the higher lords or something and did a deal with them. The deal was that, if they write Shri Ram (his name) in on the stones they would float. So when they write that on the stones, and they start to float. So all of his army brought really big stones from all over India wrote his name, and the stones started floating in the sea. And that’s how they created a bridge from India to Sri Lanka. The army crossed the bridge to ultimately kill the monster called Ravan and get back his wife.

Context: If you look the maps you can see the bridge he had build, although it is eroded cause this was thousands of years ago. There is a city called Rameswaram, which is the southernmost city in India, and you can see the bridge is really going Sri Lanka. There’s like temples with And the stones really say Shri Ram. I’ve seen it, but it could be a big scam. The interesting aspect is that this thing exists, right? So what I was thinking is that someone saw the bridge with the floating stones, and on the basis of that created the story so that it seems real, but I don’t know.

Thoughts: I found this story, and landmark, very interesting. There seems much debate online as to the reasons why these stones float. Some suggest it porous pumice stone so it the air makes it lighter than water, while others say pumice would sink after some amount of time in the water. Either way it is fascinating to see the images of the bridge from space, and is a true wonder.

Holi Festival

There was demonic king in India. His name is Hirankashap. It was known that he was an evil king and egotistic. He used to command everyone in the kingdom to worship him. He had a son named pralad, and the son did not believe you should worship kings. Pralad worshipped the real gods. So the king tried to kill his son many times, but somehow his son never died, because lord Vishnu, the one he was praying to, would save him every time. So every method to kill him was unsuccessful. The king had a sister named Holika who was immune to fire. The king told Holika to sit a fire and bring his son into it. Holika went into the fire and took Pralad into it, but Pralad kept chanting the name of lord Vishnu, and instead of Pralad, Holika burned. In the end, Pralad came out unharmed, and Vishnu was impressed with his devotion. 

The festival Holi is derived from Holika’s name. Normally, the day before Holi, we have huge bonfires all over India. And in the fire we throw away all our bad luck or whatever. Like Indians believe some objects in their house bring bad luck. So they basically leave these objects in bonfire, and try to burn out their bad thoughts and other bad things in fire. Its considered a sign of burning out all the bad things in life, and the next morning we wake up realizing we burned all the bad things in our life and we are supposed to feel happy. So we go out to celebrate and we play with colors.

Context: Indian people believe in devotion. They really believe that you have to be devoted to the gods you are praying to, and only if  your super devoted the gods will come down and save you. It also signifies even if your problem is really big, like your father is demon king, the gods will save you.

What are the colors do you play with?

Its started with people playing with natural colors, like a rose or something. So they actually make powders out of these flowers. 

Thoughts: I have seen photos of this festival online and it looks amazing. I feel great finally understanding what would prompt over a billion people to take  the streets and play with colors. It is interesting to note the contrast between the greyness of ashes left in the wake of burning negative things someone life to vibrant colors the very next day.

Durgashtmi – Ghost Festival

There is a festival in India called Durgaashtmi, and what happens is that ghost enter the human body – ghosts like past spirits. They enter the body because maybe they haven’t gone to heaven or something like that. Like they haven’t found piece in their life or death. On the festival day these spirits want to show that they are still around and need peace, so their enter some women’s bodies, and these women become uncontrollable. So people say that they have supernatural powers or force or energy and totally become crazy. That happens in India – you can watch videos and stuff. Sometimes they chain these kind of people up. So all these Indian priests come and try to provide peace to the spirits by saying mantras in Sanskrit. And basically these mantras are supposed to get the ghost out of their body. Many priests believe the ghosts are a ghost of this goddess called Durga. She is considered to be a mother figure that’s super angry that won’t go out off your body. Some people also die from this process because they get so crazy and start to drink blood and stuff. It’s a very weird festival, at the end of the day they try to get the ghosts to quit the bodies of the people and the people aren’t dead yet.

Context: [informant] The main aim of the festival is to provide peace to the spirits and get them out of the world of the living. And this is of course scary also, because if Google Durgaashmi ghost you can find that girls are really.. I don’t know… like there are really ghosts coming in the bodies.

Thoughts: Seemingly possessed people are a phenomenon all over the world, and I think it can be looked at from many different lenses. Psychologists might call it psychosis, and religious people might call it possession. Regardless, it is very interesting that India has created a festival around 

Ab pachtaye kya hot, jab chidiya chug gayi khet

Hindi: Ab pachtaye kya hot, jab chidiya chug gayi khet

Translation: Now what do you regret when the bird has devoured the field

What that means is that, why do you want to regret now, when the bird came and it already ate all of the seeds of your farm. It means why do you want to regret something that has already happened. Basically don’t regret what’s in the past and you should always concentrate on the present and the future, because regret doesn’t make our future life happier or more successful. I think this saying talks about seeds and stuff because India was a primarily agricultural economy and saying in India are related to the rural life.

What type of situations would you use that?

Like whenever people are bitching about other people, or saying a past situation was not nice or whatever. 

Thoughts: I think this is a great proverb for happiness. It shows that the past is done, and the only thing we have control over is the now. It is Hindi equivalent of the saying “no use in crying over spilled milk.”