Rinne & Majamäki

Inside The Temple
Inside The Temple

Tapani Rinne:

  • e-flat clarinet and bass clarinet

Teho Majamäki:

  • udu and santoor
  • 3, 5, 8 written by T. Rinne and T. Majamäki
  • 1, 2, 6, 7 written by T. Rinne
  • 4, 9 written by T. Majamäki
  • Organizer in India: Chetan Vibhav
  • Driver and assistant: Mohammad
  • Edited and mastered by Pauli Saastamoinen at Finnvox Studios, Helsinki, Finland
  • Produced by Teho Majamäki and Tapani Rinne
  • Photos by Teho Majamäki
  • Cover design by Leena Kouhia and Arja Heinilä

© & ℗ Zen Master Records Oy / Rockadillo Records 2011 ZENCD 2138

"Everything is possible, but everything is not available!"

A journey into sound, time and space

It was all supposed to be sorted out. Documents, passports, stamps, tickets, permits, cords, mics, instruments. A few car batteries were to be acquired on site. A ruined kingdom atop a mountain was waiting. Off to a mountain fortress at a height of almost one kilometer. The stairway to Raigad Fort had over 1400 steps and a temple at the top. Tapani Rinne and Teho Majamäki had travelled to India for reasons very different from most others… They wanted to experience the space and acoustics of the place. They wanted to record music. Teho's earlier trips to India and his experiences with its acoustic spaces had sparked the idea of a shared recording trip and now it was finally happening. Unlike on his previous forays into India, this time Teho had actually acquired all the permits necessary for recording. It was in black and white; a permit granted by the officials of the Indian government. But how can things work out in a country with almost 300 000 different deities, 1.2 billion people, half a dozen primary religions and hundreds of languages? What's obvious to a Finn will not necessarily apply in a culture that considers sound to be the force that keeps the universe intact.

In Hindu philosophy sound, or nada, is at the heart of everything. Sound existed before the universe was born and its vibrations are what keep atoms in touch with each other. String theory has been discussed in the context of Western science for a decade. In India it's been a known quantity for thousands of years.

"Many things in India are the oldest in the world," Seppo Simonen wrote in 1952, in his book "Intia, idän arvoitus" (India: Mystery of the East). He stated that India "is hard to understand unless you start thousands of years earlier." Tapani and Teho started their journey 6000 km away and encountered the reality of India in much the same form as Simonen had a half-century earlier. "If a visitor spends only a short amount of time in India," Simonen wrote, "the incomprehensible scale, roiling masses of people, the eccentricities of its religion and most of all the exhausting hot sun will soon tire him. If he tries to visit as many places and devour as much information from different areas as possible, the result will be a depressive state. Of course, India knocked me out, too." "It was a total experience," Tapani says. "We slept a few winks here, another few there. We travelled, played and recorded. It was my first time in India."

"When we arrived at Raigad Fort, we immediately started to prepare for the recording. A policeman chased us off and threatened to confiscate our gear if we didn't leave at once," Teho recounts. "He couldn't care less about our permit from Mumbai. Eventually we secured a permission to record for 10 minutes at 4 am. Then we were chased off again." So their plans were shot straight off. It was clear the project was not going to proceed as planned. In India paying too much attention to surprising twists like these does no one any good. Situations always change. "Everything on our trips was fluid, including us and the music. Plans changed and forced us to come up with alternatives, new perspectives and new solutions. We realized that accepting the facts on the ground and having a positive attitude about the changes were what mattered," Teho says. "That's India."

Luckily they had a backup plan. The Panhalekaji caves, which are over a thousand years in age, were close to the coast, between Mumbai and Goa. There are 29 caves and they are said to illustrate history in a unique manner. The caves are decorated with Hindu symbols: Statues for Ganesha and Sarasvati, and scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The symbols boded well for Teho and Tapani. Ganesha is the god of wisdom and intelligence, a four-handed figure with a large stomach and the head of an elephant. People place their trust in and appeal to Ganesha before a variety of undertakings and actions. Sarasvati is the goddess of learning, wisdom and art, including music. She helps advance the causes of creativity and communication.

"Nowhere in the world is spiritual life held in as high an esteem as it is in India," Seppo Simonen wrote over 50 years ago. "Spirituality in India is strong," Teho says. Gurus are par for the course and the teachings of the spiritual masters are often multifaceted, while containing simple instructions for daily life. Liberal universalism is a term that gets bandied about a lot in the context of Indian philosophy. This is best illustrated by the wit of an unknown thinker: Everything is possible, but everything is not available! The trip from Raigad Fort to the Panhalekaji caves was hot and long, but luckily the Finns were welcomed at their destination. "People invited us into their yards and gave us amazing food. Even the local law enforcement officials welcomed us and showed us around."

"Panhalekaji is a place akin to paradise, on a river, in the jungle," the pair tells us. They arrived at the caves at dusk, set up their recording equipment and started recording. Before long they realized the cave was dark. Pitch black. They'd been recording without respite for five hours. "We found a place to sleep as close as possible, out in the open, and when the sun rose we realized we'd slept by the side of a road. Women were doing laundry at the river close by. The water was clear so we figured we could swim in it. We asked the women and they said it was fine, but there might be some snakes." Teho and Tapani decided to be cautious and go in one at a time.

As Teho stepped into the river, Tapani saw a crocodile five meters long. "It was like straight out of a Tarzan movie," Tapani recalls. "Teho didn't see the animal, but he heard a splash, as well as my shouting." After this, the chaos and traffic jams of the Indian highways felt like a very safe place.

Their next destination was Mumbai.

Long before the birth of Christ, Buddhist monks dug caves in the igneous rocks situated west of Mumbai, in the Kanher region. Over a period of a thousand years over one hundred caves were dug, the largest of which was dominated by a statue of the Buddha over seven meters in height, as well as 34 decorative stone pillars.

The Kanher caves were made for Buddhist rituals and meditation. They are unique both decoratively and acoustically. "Echoes are long and clear and often each cave will have its own unique key that sounds the best," Tapani and Teho recount.

The caves are cut into the rock face at different heights and they are situated in a national park favored by tourists and local religious adherents. "We were given permission to record in the caves from the time the park closes until it gets dark, i.e. about 8 pm. The park is fenced in and the gates closed for the night. The guard very kindly told us to leave as soon as it got dark, since after sunset the park's leopards, which number over 80, start to hunt. The most common cause of death in the park area is being eaten by a wild animal."

India gave birth to music that could not have been born anywhere else. "Taking your shoes off, stepping into the temple or holy cave and playing as well as listening to its acoustics is a unique experience. This feeling can not be recreated by any studio reverb," Tapani says. "We played the space, its own acoustics. No overdubs were made and no mistakes fixed."

"Once we started to listen to the recordings after the trip, the amount of sound in the environment was, at first, a shock," Tapani and Teho say. "We'd thought of creating quiet material recorded in spaces with exceptional acoustics. Maybe some grasshoppers in the background. The reality was something completely different. The sounds of the surrounding environment, just like the acoustics of the space, became a part of the music. The music started to react to both the space and the environment. They all came alive together."

Written by Jukka Mikkola
Translated by Arttu Tolonen