Posts Tagged ‘Indian Classical Music’

Bonding Voices Blending Strings

09.02.14

photo3He is pretty weak – one might say, fragile – these days. For the necessary movements, he prefers to walk on his own, holding on to wall and furniture rather than take human help. Failing eyesight makes it difficult for him to recognize people unless they come close under bright light. The speech falters and one wonders if he is meeting the famed musician and composer who carved his signature in playing Santoor and created a whole new choir based on Indian classical music. Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya, one of the senior players of Santoor, established Madhukali Vrind with the express of reviving the ancient tradition of orchestration and choral singing. Instead of Vedic hymns he chose poems of national poets. All these poets, in their own way, had contributed to enriching the modern Hindi language.

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In Quest of Conservation

11.15.13

To view details of participants & proceedings visit page Seminar Raga Conservation

Since its inception, Madhukali orchestrated its activities, based on music practice, teaching and principles of Dr. Lalmani Misra. RagSem1In the past decade it has been more concerned with community of musicians and educationists, instead of individual performers. The reason for this shift was due to (initially subconscious) response to change brought in attitude towards and treatment of Indian Classical Music. As the market forces tried to bring it into main-stream, individual musicians were turned overnight into stars and brand-ambassadors. The strategy did not succeed in increasing revenue to any worthwhile level but it did bring in a change in attitude of general public and of the musician – be it a learner, teacher or performer.

Since 2007, Madhukali with support of Omenad, has been working to raise awareness of artistes, teachers and aesthetes about the necessity of safeguarding the knowledge of music that for millenniums has been transmitted orally (but also bolstered with text, even though there are periods of gap). Artistes, composers, craftsmen, scholars, aesthetes and enthusiasts have been approached and informed about the necessity of their active support towards safe-guarding of Indian musical heritage.

It is a matter of understandable pride and joy that community has begun to exhibit response to Madhukali’s exhortation. Music department of a Government College at Indore is the first such institution to examine the idea of conservation as applied to Indian Music.  The institution proposes to organize a national seminar, sponsored by Uniersity Grants Commission on January 31st and 1st February 2014. The area to be discussed is, “Raga – Conserving  Musical Heritage of India”.

The science or discipline of artistic musical expression is embodied in Raga-s. Raga-s, in turn depend on certain self-evident principles, such as Shadja-Pancham Bhav (Perfect interval ~ Pythagorean cycle of the Fifth) and consonance of ninth-thirteenth Shruti. As after stabilization of Shadja, Jaati-Gan turned to Prabandh, the principle of Raga consolidated into Ten Lakshana-s.

Technology allows multiplicity at all levels. As number of listeners and the variety of music they could now access increased, the area for innovation and experimentation available to composers and  artistes too increased several folds. These modern changes began to impact traditional practice of classical music.

RagSem2The element of “intangible” finds its best expression in music. Most invisible, music is the fundamental art-form that manifests the conscious mind. Safe-guarding, conservation and preservation are all abstract ideas expressed through concrete line of action. Once we understand how to safe-guard the element of intangibility in music, we might have a lead on how to safe-guard its expression in other practices.

The essence of intangibility rests on the attitude or mind-set. While obedience was an intrinsic given, it was the time spent by Guru with Shishya that transferred this from elder’s mind to younger without any loss. It is the intangibility involved in  this passage of right attitude, that music exhibits its primacy as vehicle of the intangible. Not only the content, but the form needs equal attention for the art to survive.

It is for its determination to examine the various facets which have contributed to formation, carriage and preservation of Raga that this particular conclave of scholars is worth watching. Madhukali hopes that even as this first show of concern by the Classical Music community is an important step – if only for raising visibility – forward, the discussions too would contribute to better understanding of the act of safe-guarding.

Interested scholars may send their queries and submit their abstracts & papers at raga@madhukali.org  For submission of fee and registration etc. contact suvarna_wad@rediffmail.com

Download Brochure 
The deadlines are:

Submission of Abstract (only soft-copies accepted):     28th December 2013

Submission of Paper (pdf & doc using UTF fonts only):  15th January 2014

Registration (along with applicable fee) on or before:    28th December 2013

Abstracts submitted & approved within time-frame would be included in pre-Seminar publication.

Music Learning in Digital Age

04.22.13

Urgency for conservation and continuation of heritage practices is unquestionably enhanced now, in comparison to even a mere century back. The awareness, better still, concern has always been there.  If all past knowledge is preserved in condensed, usable form, the given discipline is assured of health and growth. When the essence gets buried under innovation, the discipline itself is lost.

1It does not suffice to trace the origin of Indian Veena-s or of Harappan civilization; it is also necessary to examine how the idea and facts  of yore are still relevant. Often, individuals as well as institutions make the mistake of equating the form of practice as its essence. They err to consider completion of act in mere repetition of  tangible patterns.

Of all others, music is intangible most art form. Its teaching and training requires development of strong understanding between teacher and the taught. Indian musicians in past tended to disregard any other form of learning, which fell short of absolute one-to-one teaching. Thankfully, there always have been some unconventional musicians who kept the stream of scholarship vibrant, constantly  documenting, analyzing and directing the  practice of music.

It is scholar-musicians of this timbre who dare to defy the physical contact and move into realm of distance education. It involves intangibility at an extra level – that of not being physically present. Strangely, technology sometimes overpowers existing intangibility in hitherto unimagined ways. Like, providing tactile feedback to fingers of student

From formulating requisites  for teaching of Indian Music in the distance mode to actual innovation and practices, scholars from around the world contribute their ideas and experiences in this groundbreaking compilation –   Distance Education in Music. Edited by founder director of Madhukali, Pt. Omprakash Chouraisya, the volume carries the research paper in original language and its translation in Hindi or English. Published by Kanishka Publishers, Dariyaganj, Delhi this book shall prove useful to planners, educationists, musicians and interested learners. There are a few innovations like Digital Veena and Ome Swarlipi that do not find mention here, but ample information by stalwarts of music that shines benign on pathway to learning of music on one’s own.

Self-learning has always existed, even though it was not encouraged at elementary level. In words of Misrabani exponent Dr. Ragini Trivedi, “I call the instrument my father and after him, my brother used to play, Divya Veena. It is Divya (divine) because it teaches me how to play it.”

Categorization of Music Practices

04.10.13

Rajiv Trivedi

VibCov2As we celebrate the tenth anniversary of UNESCO Convention 2003, the idea of conservation and continuance of traditional practices through according them greater visibility has become a familiar concept. It may yet take time to percolate to every working adult, but community leaders have begun to realize its importance and are coming up with plans. It was reported in media that people of Varanasi are busy in making inventory of activities both ancient and current, so the ancient most city (Kashi) may be included in UNESCO’s representative list. Kashi has been seat of all Indian learning not only for creation but also for evaluation and incorporation. Music finds mention in Veda-s and has been an intellectual discipline ever since.

Broadly, practice of Indian classical music is in area of singing and instrument playing. Both these areas involve the form, content and governing rules. The techniques are quite different; yet, still, they are in the same domain of intangible.

Instruments involve the solid and the physical as well.

So, for the heritage worker, the various fields for consideration become distinct.

1. Body of Music.

2. Practice & Technique in distinct areas of Vocal and Instrumental.

3. Actual form of instruments. Tangible and Intangible Aspects.

4.  Intangible aspect of instrument making.

In a way, this implies that field of instruments is more demanding as it involves two extra aspects (No. 3 & 4) than vocal music.

Further divisions might be made on Stream – North Indian/ Hindustani and Karnatic – region, period, style and school. So to work for continuance of practices in the field of Indian Classical Music is a massive one. Existing body of documentation itself requires inventorying. If we leave the last century out of consideration when audio-recording techniques were evolving, music has been an absolute oral practice. Among all arts, it alone takes a form of absolute intangible.

It shall serve the cause if interest of academia may be harnessed for examining their content through the point-of-view of safeguarding ICH. Young researchers should be encouraged to take up studies that aim  either directly at preservation and safeguarding, or employ this as one of the factors for evaluation of current practices. Government and other organizations should come up with schemes to encourage publication of treatises under the head of “Safeguarding ICH”

Safeguarding ICH: Identifying Elements in Music

03.18.13

The difference between tangible and intangible heritage has been pointed again and again. Clear poignant measures may be taken for protection, restoration and appreciation of tangible cultural heritage. Whereas these measures often require a small amount of modification, by and large the principle remains unaltered. It is neither sufficient nor advisable to safeguard intangible heritage in this fashion. For, it exists in practice,  in continuity, more like an organism than a finished product.

One has to understand the motivation fuelling a practice in order to safeguard not merely the practice but its essence as well. Without taking into count this intangible – the immeasurable aspect of the art-form –, despite logic of methodology and objective examination, the benefic exercise would become the bane. The end of knowledge is not mere collection or aggregation; all these essentials lose value if creation of new idea-s is blocked.

 

Practice of music in India is traceable from Veda-s. This practice was motivated, in part, with aim of granting  joy and still more, for self fulfillment and absolution. It developed as a discipline with guiding principles based on tangible phenomena. Safeguarding of Indian classical music involves respect for both its motivations. Absolution, in itself an abstraction, provides the practice with ability to transcend the physical rules; yet due its innate obscurity is likely to be shunned for clearer goal of granting pleasure. The science of Indian music developed with clear principles, which permit it full play and space for innovation (Upaj) and safeguard its practice from turning into vain exercise in providing vacuous pleasure to undiscerning people. The danger of ‘entertainment’ devouring  ‘discernment’ and ‘absolution’ was never greater. With breaking up of all human affairs into consumption and production, demand and supply, the ‘fast buck’ has pushed away all other concerns.

Indian Classical Music practice was gradually being molded towards the ostensible goal of pleasing listeners, ever since music could be recorded and replayed. No musician had ever listened to himself singing in exact fashion over and over again. And now, the ability to sing in a manner that could not be bettered – because, this same performance would be heard with same flourishes and blemishes – changed the very mode of Riyaz.IMG_4825 The objective now became an exercise in dissatisfaction for executing blameless performance instead of immersing and losing oneself in one’s music. A still more dominant factor was Time; the necessity to bind one’s practice into definite duration.

It is not that idea of excellence and competence were absent prior to this; but they existed more as just reward that comes to deserving and fortunate practitioner. Concept of detached Karma (one has no right over the result of one’s action) modulated the practitioner’s psyche. Historically, a large number of practitioners, rooted in idea of absolution through art,  remained content with their station in life.  The increasing pressure of externality erodes the internal fulfillment, and most practitioners succumb to immediacy of tangible rewards than wait for intangible, uncertain absolution.

Stalwart vocalist of Jaipur-Atrauli school, Pt. Rajshekhar Mansur received training in music and life from his father and Guru. He confides how his father prohibited him from using music for earning livelihood.  Music is for mind and heart, not for stomach and flesh. And so the son took up university degree and pursued career in higher education, even as he kept learning with his father. Modern thrust on individual as efficient consumer-producer batters all activities into demand-supply chain. Individuals are taught to excel in an activity that comes closest to their heart and use it for subsistence.  Fulfillment is welcome so long it aids economic cycle; but self-sufficiency that opts out is frowned upon. It no longer fits in with the system. So long as music aims to entertain others, it is an activity involving exchange; but when its end is self-fulfillment, it denies the external world. Apart from such a stance being against consumption, it also exemplifies an alternative to rat-race existence.

The idea of attaining bliss – Sat, Chit, Anand – was evocative of spirituality and thus Indian music practitioners whole-heartedly accepted and professed it as ‘spiritual’. Any attempt to approach it rationally were opposed and rejected. Scholars, on other hand, had always  discussed practice and directed course of development.  Introduction of tangible aspects in recent past has reduced clarity and focus in academics.  Through equalization, trivia – because of sheer volume – now  commands greater attention of learner, practitioner than actual science.

Indian Classical Music thus faces threats on all platforms: political, social, economic and academic. Political correctness attacks it for ‘elitism’; socially, it is less than entertainment; it is no longer an economically viable activity  with inverted user: time ratio; academically a near-impossibility to teach with reduced attention span and learning time. Whereas technology aids most learning activities, inter-relationship of Music and Time, does not provide short-cuts.

Safeguarding Indian music thus involves re-affirmation of its shadowed goal – self-fulfillment, sublimation, absolution – through Appreciation, Practice and Education leading to awareness and consensus amongst practitioners for preserving innate strength and essence. People have to realize that solution to thirst in a desert lies not in turning it into ocean, but in a tiny, secluded haven. Music, like life, has existed only through giving not mining. As Magi would say, giving is reward in itself.

Chandrakant Sitar endeavor

02.17.13

Continuity of cultural practices often requires aid and support of sympathetic outsiders; yet, it is only in action that it retains longevity. Madhukali has organized concerts, workshops and seminars. Young and mature artistes have been encouraged with award and felicitation. Appreciation modules in various fields – art, music, theatre – introduce the young to aesthetics and creative thought. Dr. Misra proclaimed that existence of an artiste is justified by his art. The only competition he may be allowed is with himself. Yet, as an educator devoted to standardizing of music-teaching, he was tolerant to the idea of healthy competition – the sort that would  encourage a person towards a particular art-form. He  considered it the responsibility of educators involved that while it serves to provide a platform, the competition should not generate materialistic traits and negative emotions of jealousy and rivalry.

During most of his adult age, the boy-wizard of Sitar constantly tried to reach the young talent. Chandrakant’s desire was to identify and encourage musical talent. He would travel to regular schools, institutions for differently-abled and even resorts for senior, so that music played first-hand could relax, heal and inspire the listeners. In memory of his father and Guru, Sardeshmukh Maharaj, he constituted an award for talent-of-the-year. After Chandrakant left for his heavenly abode, his wife Dr. Pooja Sardeshmukh, in consultation with friends, academics and musicians decided to follow a transparent, time-bound system to encourage young musicians taking up Sitar.  The foundation has approached reputed Guru-s, teachers and institutions to motivate their students for Annual Chandrakant Sitar Award. From this year – 23rd February 2013 – a concert Nava Swar too has been planned to provide a platform to talent identified through the award process.

Darshanam, Japan

First Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh Sitar Competition 2013

The First Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh Sitar competition will be held by Darshanam, Japan in Pune in 2013. Details are as below.

l – CONDITIONS

1. The Competition is open to all artists performing on traditional Indian Sitar.
2. And to those who belong to any state of India, with age limits 15-28 as of January 1st 2013.
3. The winner of the past edition is not allowed to compete again. (Not applicable for 2013)
4. Application materials must be received no later than March 15th 2013, and must be sent to: Darshanam c/o Dr. Pooja Sardeshmukh, 203 Amruta Apartments, Ashok Path, Off Law College Road, Erandavane, Pune 411004, email pooja.chandrakant@gmail.com
5. The Competition organization in cooperation with other entities will offer the possibility to organize some concerts for the winner of the Competition.
6. The jury is not obliged to award all the prizes. Their decision is final.
7. All grants and prizes shall be subject to taxes at the statutory rate.
8. The awarded artists must personally collect their prize in the award ceremony separately held, and will play during the Winners Concert without receiving a remuneration. A refusal entails cancellation of the award.
9. For 2013 Competition, there is no entry fee.

ll – APPLICATIONS

1. The following documents must be sent well before March 15th, 2013
a) Photocopy of legal document regarding age and nationality.
b) One passport size photograph, in a digital format, if possible, sent by e-mail.
c) Brief Curriculum Vitae in English.
d) Application form
e) A 20 minute Audio CD recording.
f) Performance also uploaded to You Tube and (not public but selective) URL link sent to Darshanam
g) One passport size photograph of performance mood with instrument.

lll – COMPETITION STAGES -Calendar for 2013

1. The Competition consists of an Eliminatory Round and Final.
a. ELIMINATORY ROUND: Based on the Audio CD recordings, up to 8 finalists will be selected
b. FINAL: A self chosen program lasting no longer than 40 minutes, consisting of pieces of different styles. To be performed in person, in Amruta Apartments, Ashok Path, Off Law College Road, Erandavane, Pune (Residence of Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh)
c. The Final round will be open to public. Capacity of Amruta Apartment is about 30 persons.
d. Felicitation of awardees will take place in Annual Darshanam Awards event in December
2. No work may be repeated.
3. All the works must be performed by heart.
4. CD recordings will be received from the contestants by Darshanam and will not be returned.
5. Preliminary screening of CDs will be conducted by Darshanam Team members.
6. Final round judges will be selected by Darshanam Team members

lV – CALENDAR 2013

1. Jan 01- Mar 15- Receive applications
2. Mar 15-May 30 – Eliminatory round
3. May 30 –June 10 – Final round candidates will be informed by email
4. August 17- 18 Final round will be conducted
5. August 17 Session #1 -Morning session – 10 AM to 12 PM – 4 artists will perform.
6. August 17 Session #2 -Afternoon session from 3 PM to 7 PM, next 4 artists will perform.
7. August 18 – Awards will be declared
8. August 18- finalists workshop will be conducted in Amruta
9. December 28/29 Annual Darshanam Awards event in Pune

V – PRIZES

1. Only one prize will be given as cash award of Rs. 20,000.
2. All finalists will be given certificates by Darshanam

VI – LOCATION

1. Pune City, Maharashtra.

VII – ACCOMMODATION & TRAVEL

1. For artists when they perform in event planned by Darshanam, basic accommodation will be taken care of.
2. Artists will have to bear their own To and Fro travel costs.

Sitar in willing hand: 3rd Workshop in Pune

02.13.13

Stalwarts in music were prone to make a trite remark to a novitiate eager to impress – “Prove through performance not by idle talk”. IMG_4566Often did pupils of Dr. Lalmani Misra hear this remark and were motivated to devote themselves to their art. As Dean, Music & Performing Arts and Fine Arts, he introduced a weekly concert where a teacher and a student were selected to present recital each Thursday. He insisted on breaking the monotony of self-same Riyaz through such innovative practices. Madhukali, in keeping with thought and practices of its mentor, has sought ways and means to energize practice and appreciation of music. To mark the tenth anniversary of UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Madhukali planned this year’s activities to start with teaching of music.  Click here to view a clip of   Workshop in progress

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End of an Era

12.12.12

In the condolence meeting organized at Madhukali premises, Bhopal, Founder Director Pt. Omprakash Chourasiya paid tribute to Madhukali patron Bharat Ratna, Pandit Ravishankar, whose loss is deeply mourned by classical music community. Pt. Chourasiya said, “Pandit Ravishankar ji would invariably meet with Guruji (Dr. Lalmani Misra) whenever he visited Varanasi. As disciples, we would maintain our distance, but still could learn a bit of plans about promotion and education of Indian music, the two would discuss. Pandit ji always loved us as his own.” Still later, he would call Pt. Chourasiya to ask after the affairs of Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy. Once when during some bureaucratic restructuring, it was proposed to rename the music academy, Pt. Chourasiya sought advice of Pandit Ravishankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and other musicians. Ravishankar ji wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Bajpeyi requesting not to take away the name of Baba from the only academy to be named after a musician. Thus, music academy in Madhya Pradesh still continues to be known as Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy.

Dr. Ragini Trivedi considered his deep classicism as the bond between Pt. Ravishankar and her father. She fears that with Pandit ji’s passing away, Indian Classical Music may suffer setback in area of performance similar to that, it has undergone in area of academics after demise of her father, Dr. Lalmani Misra, Acharya Brahaspati and Thakur Jaidev Singh. It would be hard to find an artiste of similar stature who is committed to classical knowledge and enjoys global acclaim. She almost broke down, recalling how Ravishankar ji assured his friend and colleague that he would look after the children. He would send for them whenever he was in town, inquire about their progress, eagerly examining their fingers for string marks. Pandit ji flew to India on a short notice to bless the couple when Ragini was married in 1985.  Dr. Kiran Deshpande  recalled various interactions with Pandit ji – how he would put younger artistes at ease motivate them by example. Pt. Ramswaroop Ratonia tried to express his grief; he said, that Pandit ji’s presence  is felt through his creativity in daily routine of Akashvani. Dr. Sudha Dixit marvelled at Panditji’s depth of understanding which gave him the ability to successfully use Karnatic Raga-s along with Hindustani equivalent.

Several members located across the country called to express their sorrow.  Smita Tanshikar of Ahmednagar who learnt Misrabani had also come in contact with Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh the sole common disciple of Pt. Ravishankar and Annapurna ji. She helped maintain interaction between musicians in different locations. Young Santoor player Satyendra Solanki looked after the hurriedly called meeting  at  ‘Asthaa’, the Madhukali headquarter.

The year 2012 has taken its toll on Indian music. A complete generation of stalwarts bid adieu this year, leaving music colder stroke by stroke. With Ravishankar – a synonym for Sitar, Classicism and innovative orchestration –  an era of tradition, experimentation and creation that always cherished melody and aesthetics, draws to a close.

Voicing Tri-tantri Veena: Darshanam Workshop, Puna

05.04.12

sDSCN3518Till the moment when a fatal accident on 14th August 2011 claimed this noble, vibrant soul, Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh was moved by thought of bringing music to children, especially in India. He was on his way to attend Independence Day Celebrations at a school he had adopted. He had made Indian Classical Music work in several ways taking it to many far-east countries for the first time. Apart from traditional presentations, he innovated with Japanese artistes, introducing them to galaxy of Indian Raga-s; taught Sitar, traditionally, to young and mature learners and healed many with his music. A child prodigy himself, he realized the importance of recognizing and nurturing talent at an early age.

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Darshanam Sitar Workshop

04.01.12

Dedicated to legendary Sitar Wizard, Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh, Darshanam has announced extension of Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh Music Academy to benefit pupils desirous of learning Sitar from experts in India.

The first workshop being held at Pune offers intense courses to basic and advanced learners. The four-day Basic workshop beginning 1st April 2012 shall be conducted by Misrabani practitioner Dr. Santosh Pathak. For Advanced workshop on 6th, 7th and 8th April, Dr. Ragini Trivedi has been invited. She is known for expertise in performance, preservation, critique as well as her innovations in Indian Classical Music.

Registrations from eager students from Japan, U.K. and India have been received for these courses. The workshop shall be conducted using Ome Swarlipi – the symbol-based, digital notation system created by Dr. Ragini Trivedi. Exponent of Misrabani, a style created to enhance range of string instrument by father Dr. Lalmani Misra, she has been hailed both as teacher and performer of Jal Tarang, Sitar and Vichitra Veena. Working for Safeguarding of ICH practices in the area of ICM, she is nonpareil when it comes to knowledge of form and content. She plays rare Raga-s on a rare instrument, Vichitra Veena.

Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh had studied Sama Veda and other Vedic literature apart from Ayurveda and directed his knowledge in innovating ways to use music for providing succor to patients suffering from life-style diseases. A number of students who studied with him in Japan & Australia have contributed to popularity of Sitar in their countries. Dr. Pooja Sardeshmukh invited experts in Misrabani tradition to conduct workshop, as child-prodigy and sole student of both Vidushi Annapurna Devi and Pandit Ravishankar ji, Dr. Chandrakant was inspired by Dr. Lalmani Misra’s work on Vedic music and elucidation of Bharat Chatuh Sarana.