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May 30, 2005
This week's theme
Words from music

This week's words

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with Anu Garg

I learned to play the guitar while in college. Once, home for the summer vacation, I became lost in an old song. After I let the strings rest at the end of the piece and lifted my head, I noticed my father standing in the doorway of my room, listening intently.

The notes floating through the air had made him drop his work and walk all the way to my room at the other end of the house. You could say the music was moving, especially if you knew it wasn't easy to lure a government official away from his files.

The music I was playing was nowhere nearly as moving as that of one of India's greatest musicians whose stories I often heard while growing up. Sixteenth century Tansen was one of the jewels in the court of Mogul king Akbar. It's said that when Tansen performed raga deepak (from Sanskrit, fire melody) things would heat up, literally, and the lamps in the king's court would begin to glow. When he sang raga megh malhar (rain melody), raindrops would begin falling to bring relief from the heat.

I no longer play the guitar. I mostly prefer the music of quietude. At times, though, I hear a tune that pulls me back in time and even makes my fingers strum imaginary strings.

This week we feature a selection of words from music that are metaphorically used in other contexts as well.


Pronunciation RealAudio

bravura (bruh-VYOOR-uh, -VOOR-) noun, plural bravuras, bravure

1. A musical piece or performance involving great skill and a display of flair and brilliant style.

2. A display of spirit, daring, or boldness.


Marked by display of flair, spirit, style, boldness, etc.

[From Italian bravura (bravery), from Latin barbarus, from Greek barbaros (barbarous).]

See more usage examples of bravura in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"Swinney aides made a bravura - some would argue demented - attempt to present the vote as good news, but no-one took their side."
Tom Gordon; Brisk Goodbye From the Leader; The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland); Jun 23, 2004.


The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. -Hans Hofmann, painter (1880-1966)

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