Video | Keeping tala with hand gestures: Adi (8 beats) & Misra chapu (7 beats)

Adi tala (8 beats) demonstrated by T.R. Sundaresan
Misra chapu tala (7 beats) performed as konnakkol by T.R. Sundaresan

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Voice culture and singing

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https://archive.org/details/voice-culture-and-singing-kalakshetra-quarterly-1983

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Voice Culture and Singing by Friedrich Brueckner-Rueggeberg

Peter Calatin (left) and Friedrich Brueckner-Rueggeberg (centre) with students at
Kalakshetra in 1983 © Ludwig Pesch

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. To enjoy some of the vocal (Flow-) exercises offered for free on the present course site, it is useful to first identify a vocal range which suits your own voice (which may changes in the course in the day as well).

Beyond the lyrics that naturally call for specific moods or feelings (bhava) to be expressed, practical exercises for beginners and advanced learners1 may be compared with western solfège; in our context for the purpose of articulating, appreciating, memorizing or communicating Carnatic raga phrases in characteristic ways (with or with0ut conventional notation); eventually to be combined with rhythmic figures as part of compositions or improvisations in virtually any part of a concert.

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 >>

Context

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).

Credits

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): Alain Mai

  1. As pointed out by Gouri Dange, learners are well advised to approach their daily practice with the same respect that characterizes the renditions of a revered musician:
    “Every kind of music has a protocol for ‘beginners’ or ‘learners’. Students must practise paltay, alankaras, scales, études, tonalisation exercises, depending on the kind of music they pursue. […] It is surely a disservice to a raga and to those who lift it to its best potential, and even more so a disservice to the young student, to allow the mental stamping of some ragas as ‘learner material’.” []

There really is no such thing as a ‘learner’ raga

Image © The Hindu >>

Gouri Dange, The Hindu, 11 May 2019 | Read the full article here >>

Every kind of music has a protocol for ‘beginners’ or ‘learners’. Students must practise paltay, alankaras, scales, études, tonalisation exercises, depending on the kind of music they pursue.  […]

However, here’s the rub: for many learners, these ‘early’ ragas get translated in the mind as something very basic, or ‘shikau’, with a novice ring to them. They are seen, most misguidedly, as mundane, without the strut and stature of the ‘larger and later’ ragas that are taught after you are deemed fit to learn them.  […]

It is surely a disservice to a raga and to those who lift it to its best potential, and even more so a disservice to the young student, to allow the mental stamping of some ragas as ‘learner material’.  […]

The novelist, counsellor and music lover takes readers on a ramble through the Alladin’s cave of Indian music.

https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/column-can-there-really-be-such-a-thing-as-a-learner-raga/article27093490.ece

Purandara Dasa (1484-1564), a prolific poet-composer and mystic of Vijayanagar, introduced a music course that is followed to the present day. Since the 17th century, hundreds of ragas (melody types) have been distributed among 72 melakarta ragas (scales).

Learn & practice more

S Rajam and disciples sing Harikesanallur Bhagavatar

S. Rajam (1919-2010) is credited with defining the visual identity of South India’s classical music. The present recording was made at his Mylapore home on 12 December 1997 when rehearsing for a lecture-demonstration; an annual event serving to highlight rare facets of South Indian (Carnatic) music. More about this recording & Sangita Kalasikhamani S. Rajam >>

Total duration: 82 min.(2 tracks mp3): Cassette side A 46:24, Cassette side B 36:22); for free download options visit https://archive.org/details/rajam-harikesanallur-lecdem >>

  • S Rajam June 2009 © Jayan Warrier

S Rajam teaching and receiving visitors friends including singer Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam, pianist-educator Anil Srinivasan & Ludwig Pesch Photos © Jayan Warrier (June 2009)

A couple of years ago, musician-friend Ludwig Pesch invited me to a music lesson taught by S Rajam. One of the disciples there was Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam. The bond between the master and the student became evident as the lesson wore on. As the midwinter sun cast lazy shadows across the courtyard, I saw the guru lapse into proud silences, letting his disciple sing unaided. […] The memory of that master lesson at Rajam’s home remains etched in my memory. As the master and the student rendered a composition in Ananda­bhairavi, a curious butterfly lodged itself on my shoulder. The stillness of that moment lent me a certain delicate joy. It was something deeper than contentment—an ability to stay absolutely rooted to the music. The rest, as they say, is mere noise.

Anil Srinivasan in “Her master’s voice and more” (Indian Express, 18 June 2011) >>

Find additional information by typing names “S Rajam Harikesanallur”, “singer Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam”, “pianist Anil Srinivasan” (or similar combination) here:

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Anyone who is familiar with the world of Carnatic music, would recognise S. Rajam’s paintings of the Trinity—Syama Sastry, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. They are probably his most popular creations. But his paintings of the seven swaras based on the visualisation of the swara personalities described in Sangeeta Kalpadrumam—the treatise by vidwan Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar, are equally interesting and beautiful. That Kalpadrumam was the source of inspiration for these paintings has been acknowledged by the late Rajam himself, in the detailed notes that he has given to Sruti.

https://sruti.com/printeditions/sruti-back-issues-individual/amjad-ali-khan-amp-ustad-hafiz-ali-khan

Beyond performing competence: Students set to become good teachers and informed citizens as well

By S. Sankaranarayanan in Sruti (1998) | Excerpts that remain relevant today:

Observations on the teaching of music at the Rotterdam Conservatory, Holland:

Along with theory and history of music, the students [at the Rotterdam Conservatory] also acquire knowledge of ancillary aspects such as voice modulation and the reading and writing of notation. However, weightage is given to performing competence. […] As a means of widening their musical horizons, the students are encouraged to have exposure to other systems of music as well. […] Training in teaching methods is also imparted to the students so that they can become good teachers.

Along with music, the students are given a wide ranging and comprehensive liberal education so that, at the end of the course, they become not only competent musicians and/or teachers but informed citizens as well.

Dr. Suvarnalata Rao, Research Scientist at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Mumbai)

Role of Research in Music Education

The lakshya sampradaya of music which is passed from guru to sishya gets altered when music is performed in a recital. This happens because of the elements of ‘entertainment’, such as indulgence in virtuosity or novelty for its own sake, and playing to the gallery. Because many performers also happen to be teachers, such changes, subtle and not so subtle, that creep into the recitals also influence the teaching, including the course content of contemporary music education. Only a researcher can observe and point out such deviation s to the artists, as no performer can be his own critic unless he has a bent for research which is rather rare. It is for the practitioners either to accept or not to accept the researcher’s findings. However, to be effective, a researcher (and for that matter, a musicologist or critic too) should be be able to perform, though not necessarily as a concert performer; otherwise his opinion would carry little weight.

[Commentary by S. Sankaranarayanan: It should, however, be remembered that, firstly, theory is not an unalterable entity and, secondly, theory itself is a codification of practices, though quite often it is one generation behind the latter. Fortunately, music has an admirable tradition of accomodating change].

Dr. N. Ramanathan, [former] Head of the Department of Indian Music at the University of Madras

Read the full report: https://sruti.com/articles/spotlight/teaching-of-indian-music >>

“Children should grow with joy, courage and freedom and a discipline born out of these attributes. The fundamental principle is joy, suggestion must be the method, the emphasis should be on the imaginative and creative experience of music and teaching should follow a “flow-form-flow” spiral.
VV Sadagopan was clearly in favour of lakshya (aesthetic perception) over lakshana (intellectual abstraction) at school, college or university.” – T.K. Venkatasubramanian in “VV Sadagopan – An educator with a mission”, Sruti Magazine >>

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