Whatever one’s personal background and aspirations may be, Carnatic music remains a quest for undiluted aesthetic experience (rasa). Three basic concepts are essential. Read the brief introduction for more!
Originally published in 2001 by KIT Publishers in Rhythm, A Dance in Time by Elisabeth den Otter (ed.) in conjunction with the exhibition titled “Ritme, dans van de tijd” at the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam
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The non-sacrificial, musical counterpart to Sāma-Gāna in ancient times was Gandharva-Sangīta, later Sangīta, which has three divisions; vocal, instrumental, and dance. Performed by “Gandharva” musicians in Indra’s heavenly court, earthly Gandharva-Sangīta was a replica of this celestial music. […]
Gandharva-Sangīta was also associated with pūjā, a form of worship with non-Aryan or indigenous roots that eventually replaced the yajña as the cornerstone of Hindu religious life. Instead of oblations into a fire, pūjā involves offerings of flowers, incense, food, water, lamps, and conches directly to deities or symbols on an altar. In pūjā, singing and playing instruments are conceived as offerings that are integrated with the other elements. […]
The association of religion with the production of the arts, while present in Western history, is paramount in India. Currently, the content of artistic production is largely taken from Hindu religious texts, with many performance genres derived from religious rituals. […]
Source: Historian of religions and musicologist Guy L. Beck in Ch. 26, “Hinduism and Music” in The Oxford handbook of religion and the arts
Date Visited: 13 November 2021
- For contents, check Worldcat.org: The Oxford handbook of religion and the arts, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014 & Oxford Handbooks Online >>
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I interpret image-worship in two ways, in one form of image-worship, the person who contemplates the image becomes absorbed in the contemplation of the qualities for which it stands. This is image-worship in its wholesome form – in the other form of it, the person who contemplates the image does not think about the qualities but looks upon the image itself as the primary thing.Gandhi on image worship in Singing Gandhi’s India, p. 78
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A Southern music: The Karnatik story
By T.M. Krishna, HarperCollins, Rs 699
If a successful and busy Karnatic singer takes time off in order to write reflections on South Indian or “Karnatic” music, the book release function is bound to be met with considerable interest. […]
He pays tribute to the tambura (the tanpura) as “the life-giver, the soul of our music”. For Krishna, “it is the one instrument that can be said to hold within itself the very essence of classical music. So unobtrusive is this instrument, so self-effacing in its positioning on the stage and so tender of nature, that it is almost taken for granted.” Sadly, the tambura is rarely played “live” even during live concerts where it tends to be drowned by its electronic surrogate with devastating effect. Restoring its presence would seem indispensable in efforts such as those outlined under two chapter headings, “To Remove the Barriers Imposed by the Music” and “To Expand the Listenership of Karnatic Music”. The very concept of “fusion” is dismissed as a “lopsided idea of the music.” […]
The fact that 15 out of 588 pages are assigned to an Index is welcome in view of the publisher’s ambition to provide readers with a “path-breaking overview of South Indian classical music.” A mere glance at the Contents page and Index proves that, as in his concerts, T.M. Krishna would take nothing for granted, starting with instructions titled “A Note on Reading”. […]
Source: Book review by Ludwig Pesch, The Telegraph (Calcutta)
Address : http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140228/jsp/opinion/story_18023416.jsp#.UxC3W16kAfl
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Voice Culture and Singing by Friedrich Brueckner-Rueggeberg
This course material was originally produced for – and used by – teachers and students at Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts, today known as Rukmini Devi College Of Fine Arts.
Meaningless and uncontrolled singing and exercising are rather harmful since the long-term memory of the brain needs to be supplied with correct impulses which requires immediate recognition of functional disorders and their correction.
Herein lies the great and far-reaching responsibility of the teacher whose full care and control is demanded in order to allow the singer to acquire an automatic and playful sense for the correct usage of his voice. In this manner, he is relieved sufficiently to devote himself fully to content and presentation of his music (described as Bhava in India). […]
Many victims of either wrong techniques of singing or careless teachers keep wandering from teacher to teacher in pursuit of their shattered hopes. This fact lends weight to the concept of voice control from the very beginning before defects can encroach that are so hard to correct later on, if at all.
Quote from page 15 in the printversion | Learn more >>
A two week long voice culture course was offered at the request of its Founder-Director, Rukmini Devi (1904-1986) when introduced to the renowned singer and voice trainer, Friedrich Brueckner-Rueggeberg in 1982.
This project was conceived on the basis of earlier experiences, namely that Indian singers would benefit from time-proven as well as modern methods such as described here, mainly in order to prevent injury caused by mechanical practice (e.g. a lack of awareness that a pupil’s vocal range, breathing and posture should be taken into account).
The method described here is oriented towards “intercultural learning” which explains why it has since been adopted by several voice coaches from all over India, be it for “classical” singing or otherwise.
It has also been adapted for a major chapter on vocal music in The Oxford Illustrated Companion To South Indian Classical Music by Ludwig Pesch (Oxford University Press, in print since 1999, 2nd rev. ed. 2009).
The Chennai branch of the Goethe Institut (German cultural institute, better known as Max Mueller Bhavan) sponsored Friedrich Brueckner-Rueggeberg and his senior disciple Peter Calatin to conduct the voice training course hosted by Kalakshetra in 1983 for which the present contents was created.
First published by K. Sankara Menon and edited by Shakuntala Ramani in Kalakshetra Quarterly Vol. V, No. 3 (Chennai, 1983).
Co-author, translator and researcher (adaptation to the Indian context including illustration and photography): Ludwig Pesch – the author’s former student at Freiburg Musikhochschule (Germany) – then a student of Kalakshetra College.
Illustration (graphics): A. Mai
Have you been looking for a fun way of memorizing the 72 melakarta names and numbers, finding them “mind bending” rather than “mind boggling” until now?
Here’s one method that may work – if you are ready to practice it for a few minutes every day; like passing time while waiting in queues or commuting, or unable to fall asleep. Silently so … such is the beauty and usefulness of the melakarta system.
Take today’s date (or your favorite musician’s birthday) in the format you commonly use (DD-MM or MM-DD, here we’ll use DD-MM)
12-07 for 12 July
Pick the corresponding mela numbers from the list available here (a special gift for all motivated learners):
There you look up the number pair for any given date, for instance:
12 = Rūpāvati R-P=21><12
07 = Sēnāvati S-N=70><07
Tip: if interested, find more explanations on page 2 to understand how the Kaṭapayādi sūtra is being applied to the names of 72 mēḷakartā rāgas (“melas”).
Remember how “yesterday … your troubles seemed so far away?”
11-07 for 11 July … so keep moving forward and backward after getting today’s numbers and names right, to start with.
You got it, all ready to go for days and weeks to come: because that date, too, is another day; one bound to become a memorable one with the help of the Boggle Your Mind with Mela (BYMM) method.
What’s next? Here are some suggestions:
- find the actual DD-MM date in the Western calendar which corresponds to “72 October 2021”
- or any other DD-MM date you consider booking a ticket and attend the Chennai December Season
- if motivated to do so: memorize the entire list of 72 melas in batches of 10 (rather than 6): you’ll spot the patterns more easily
- apply mela numbers in order to remember daily matters: birthdays, holidays or passwords – you name it
- print the above PDF-attachment, then fold the sheet along the lines “accordeon style”: this yields a neat, visiting card size BY-MM paper-app (battery free for 24/7 use)
- use it as a gift for fellow music lovers interested in this subject
Just one more thing as regards general well being
Although it seems unlikely you didn’t know yet: remember how good walking is for both, one’s mental and physical health? For our brains and moods … even for learning all the 72 mela ragas by heart in a stress-free manner.
So I gladly recommend listening to the following podcast episode by BBC Crowd Science:
Why is standing more tiring than walking?
So keep walking, and rather than talking, boggle your mind through mela memorization whenever you are out there – enjoy!
Ludwig Pesch on Ratnāngi-Sēnāvati-Kharaharapriya Day (02-07-22)
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An indispensable and enriching reference for the connoisseur, practicing musician and dancer, interested amateur, impresario, teacher, and student, this completely revised, updated, and enlarged edition will also inform and engage anybody keen on learning more about Indian culture.Publication date: 27/01/2009 (Hardback, 552 pages)
Critical acclaim from India and beyond
“Pesch’s sumptuous Illustrated Companion is a delight”, “the most thorough study of Carnatic music”, “a marvellous work”, “a thorough, and scientifically accurate companion to our classical music” that includes a “useful chapter on voice training”; in short “pure reading pleasure”
Used as textbook for this course, The Oxford Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music is readily available. For order details please visit the publisher’s websites: Oxford University Press India & Global OUP >>
- Overview of music, instruments, composers, schools, etc.
- Visuals of instruments, major composers, etc.; also colour plates
- Biographical notes on musicians and composers
- Guide to Pronunciation and Transliteration, Alphabetical Index of Ragas and Scales, Index of Names
This is a completely revised and updated edition of The Oxford Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music, which includes the latest available information on the subject. Acclaimed as the most authoritative reference work on South Indian classical music, the Companionprovides an overview of the historical and cultural contexts of the music, its instruments, composers, leading practitioners, and schools.
The Companion features more than 120 line drawings and photographs of all the instruments discussed, as well as of major composers, and a special colour plates section, make this an indispensable guide to classical music of the sub-continent. With detailed biographical notes on musicians and composers, a guide to pronunciation and transliteration, an alphabetical index of ragas and scales, and more, this reference becomes truly invaluable.
An indispensable and enriching reference work for the connoisseur, practicing musician, interested amateur, impresario, teacher, and student, the Companion will be of interest to anybody keen to learn about Indian culture.
Disclaimer: all links are for information purposes only >>
Is tradition set in stone? Is not change even within a musician’s lifetime in the natural order of things? Does custom or convention in musical practice have to be held sacrosanct at the cost of organic modification or adaptation?
An artiste creates and modifies, subtly or otherwise, his or her style for several reasons – physical, emotional, intellectual, political or aesthetic. A stellar artiste preserves tradition not as a rigid, fossilized keepsake but as an intelligent amalgamation of inherited values as well as current inclinations. […]
Every episode in this series promises a volley of insights into the musical style and technique of the musician being discussed. A treat for students, aspiring musicians, lay as well as experienced listeners.
These conversations are not intended to conclude, merely to present points to ponder. […]
The Museum of Performing Arts (MOPA) Foundation was established in 2017 to document and showcase the history, content, periodic changes and external influences on every aspect of South India’s performing art forms, as also to look at existing trends and the impact on subsequent generations.
Through well-designed and curated exhibitions, documentaries, lectures, concerts and related events, MOPA aims to place South India’s rich cultural legacy on the larger map of world culture.
MOPA also aims to develop a museum in Chennai, for the performing arts of South India. By this, MOPA will serve one more purpose – a complete artistic and cultural orientation under one roof for anybody who wants to get a bird’s eye view or an in-depth understanding of South Indian performing art forms.
Source: “Let’s Talk Carnatic”, Digital Projects: a series that “covers interviews, talks, presentations, lecture-demonstrations and conversations on all things related to Carnatic music” & “About MOPA”
URLs: https://mopachennai.org/digital-projects.php & https://mopachennai.org/about-mopa.php
Date Visited: 5 September 2022
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