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“Unity in Diversity, Antiquity in Contemporary Practice? South Indian Music Reconsidered” by Ludwig Pesch (Amsterdam) in Music – Politics – Identity published by Goettingen University
Music always mirrors and acts as a focal point for social paradigms and discourses surrounding political and national identity. The essays in this volume combine contributions on historical and present-day questions about the relationship between politics and musical creativity. The first part concentrates on musical identity and political reality, discussing ideological values in musical discourses. The second part deals with (musical) constructions, drwawing on diverse national connections within our own and foreign identity. – Matthew Gardner & Hanna Walsdorf (eds.)
Many Carnatic ragas have their counterparts in western Music […] L.S.Ramesh, a Post Graduate from the reputed Indian Institute of Technology-I.I.T.Madras, has designed an Innovative Carnatic Music chakra (Sri Saraswathi 72 Melakarta chakra). […] This chakra requires no prior knowledge and has been appreciated by Music legends Dr. Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna,Prince Rama Varma, Shri. Garimella Balakrishna Prasad (Annamacharya project Director-Tirumala Tirupathi) and others.
Mr. Ramesh and his wife Mrs. Sridevi use the money generated from sale of this Sri Saraswathi 72 Melakarta chart to help underprivileged children through FACES (Food, Aid, Clothing, Education, Shelter); a Service started by this couple.
Aparna Karthikeyan, The Hindu, April 11, 2015 | To read the full story and view more photographs, click here >>
It takes many days to make a block of wood sing. And it takes exceptionally talented craftsmen to do it. The four families who still make the nadaswaram by hand in Narasingapettai (a village near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu) are so skilled that they almost make it look simple. […]
Selvaraj tells me about his village’s long association with the wind instrument, without which no Tamilian wedding or temple procession is ever complete.
“Nadaswaram is a ‘mangala vaadhiyam’ (auspicious instrument). It originated in this area, in a village near Mayavaram. My great-grandfather, Govindasamy Achari, went there and learnt the craft. “ […]
Traditionally, nadaswarams are made with aacha maram (Hardwickia binate, Indian Blackwood). “But you can’t use fresh wood; it has to be at least 75-100 years old. Young wood will bend and bow. All this wood was once lintels and pillars of old houses.” He points to the pile in his backyard. “But we face trouble transporting the wood. We’re stopped at check-posts and asked for a bill; but which seller will give me a bill for old wood?” Even worse, they’re accused of smuggling sandalwood.
Their worries don’t end with procuring the wood. “You need three persons to make each piece. After deducting all the costs — wood, labour — we are left with Rs.1000-1500 per nadaswaram,” rues Selvaraj. […]
But every morning, they wake up with worries: will they find some acha maram, will their sons sit down and learn from them, will the government recognise their contribution to music…
This article is part of the series ‘Vanishing Livelihoods of Rural Tamil Nadu’ and is supported under NFI National Media Award 2015.
In his recent book, A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story, T.M. Krishna reflects on those misconceptions and stereotypes that stand in the way of truly appreciating South Indian music. He reiterates the unique role played by the (acoustic) tambura / tanpura which is all too rarely heard ‘live’ in Indian concerts today.
For this eminent singer “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. It is the life-giver, the soul of our music. … Only a musician who has experienced this sanctity can be a true musical vehicle. In the internal absorption of the tambura’s resonance, music happens.” (pp. 48-50) He asks whether the electronic tambura satisfies the human sense of tune when digitization really changes the manner in which we hear sound, a phenomenon he has explored in practice.
In his view, the practice of substituting the tambura by electronic devices also in the classroom “has worked to the detriment of sruti. All this has consolidated the misconception of Karnatic music going ‘off key'”. (p. 235-6; see the book’s index for more on this and related topics)
Publisher’s note One of the foremost Karnatik vocalists today, T.M. Krishna writes lucidly and passionately about the form, its history, its problems and where it stands today T.M. Krishna begins his sweeping exploration of the tradition of Karnatik music with a fundamental question: what is music? Taking nothing for granted and addressing readers from across the spectrum – musicians, musicologists as well as laypeople – Krishna provides a path-breaking overview of south Indian classical music. – HarperCollins Publisher (2013) Price: Rs. 699