How is Sari Design Like Blues Music

Sari Like Blues Music

You might be thinking to yourself that the title of this article is kind of weird. After all, what would the national dress for females in India have to do with all-American music pioneered in the Mississippi delta?

Blues music, if anything, is all-American. You can hardly approach the concept of blues music without first addressing American culture. It is after all rooted in the American experience, in particular, the American slaves and sharecropper experience. It’s an African-American cultural expression.

Given this background, what does this have to do with the sari that is all the rage in India, and transcended India’s geographic boundaries to find itself anywhere from the greater Asia, as well as parts of North America and points beyond? The connection is actually quite simple. If you’ve ever listened to a blues song, you would be forgiven for thinking that you only need to listen to one blues song to pretty much listen to all of them. The reason you would get this impression is blues music is defined as formulaic.

Blues musicians would readily admit to this. Normally, if you were to describe any kind of music as formulaic, people would get offended, seriously take offense, or feel insulted. This is not the case with blues musicians and blues fans. They know that it’s a formulaic, and the whole point of blues music is to appreciate the rendition of the formula.

You’re not looking for innovation, some cutting-edge, post-modern juxtaposition of the different compositional elements that go into a typical blues song, or any of that. Your goal is less reinventing the wheel than coming up with a fresh rendition that communicates to the age-old truths and soulful realities that blues music has historically brought to the table.

That’s what’s going on, and if we approach saris, sari design and fashion from that perspective, it’s very easy to see the connection. In fact, it would be obvious. Just like the blues, saris operate within a fairly strict design template so to speak. There are only so many ways you can experiment with a sari design. If go past a certain line, you’re no longer designing a sari, nor wearing the Indian national female dress. You’re wearing something else. It may not even have a name, but it’s definitely not a sari.

Everybody knows this. All fans of saris and wearers of this type of fashion know this, and most importantly, they expect it. They understand that this is the type definition, and that’s why they police any variations of the design.

If you were to play fast and loose with the design elements and parameters that go into the sari, people would sit up and pay attention. You might even call you out on it. They might even tell you that you’re no longer designing a sari. They might say, “What is that you’re designing? Don’t tell me that you’re going to call it a sari because it isn’t a sari. That’s like calling a cat a dog.”

Keep this in mind because blues music, as well as the whole philosophy behind, is actually very similar to sari design and the philosophy behind that. It really all boils down to working within tight design or creative parameters, and coming up through the genius of rendition and a performance with a distinct experience.

This is the key here. When people look at a sari, they get an experience. When you listen to blues music, you get an experience. What makes one piece of blues music different from another song is the experience you get. The same applies to the sari. If you can get this, then you can understand the linkage and the similarity of the proper critical attitude and framework behind these two cultural concepts.