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Downloads by surname => Downloads: discussion without links => Topic started by: jowcol on August 18, 2012, 12:42:00 pm

Title: Indian Classical Music
Post by: jowcol on August 18, 2012, 12:42:00 pm
I may be crossing the Rubicon here, but I hope to post an occasional work from the Northern Indian Classical tradition. I'm a big fan of Hindustani music.  It may be an acquired taste, but once you "get the hang of it", it is some of the deepest, supremely meditative music I know.   Before I post any specifics, I just wanted to offer a crash course on the structure/style of this music.

This music is, to a large degree, improvised, but there are many traditional elements and ornamentations used.  The traditional form is a trio, with a soloist on a given instrument, another person playing the Tambura (a drone instrument with 4 strings that creates buzzing through threads placed on the bridge, and the drummer, who plays the 'tabla- which looks vaguely like the bongos, but can also be turned to a specific pitch.

The soloist (also called the "composer") bases the work on one of many scales (Ragas) which are associated with a mood and time of day, and typically adds a basic theme or melody.  The scales are selected form on  the same basic tones of the western scale, but may have some different intervals. (One of my favorites flattens the 2nd and 6th notes of the major scale.)  Microtones are often used in elaborating a scale , but the base raga is not specified with them.  Note that the instruments are tuned to a natural, not equal tempered pitch, providing a richer overtone series, but pretty much ruling out any key changes in a performance.

The opening of a work is called the Alap-- a slow, free meter unfolding of the scale with the Tambura in accompaniment.  To untrained ears, this may sound like the performer is tuning their instrument, but in reality, building an Alap over time requires excruciating concentration, and is more of a mental than physical challenge.  

The next sections, Jor and Jhala, have the soloist adding a Rhythmic drone, and stating the melodic phrase while also adding a series of variations.  Indian Rhythms are best thought of as compound rhythms built from elements of 2, 3 and 4 beats, and a typical rhythmic cycle  could have 7, 10, 12, or 16 beats.

Finally, in the Gat, the Tabla player, who may have been sitting quietly for half an hour or more, joins in, and the soloist and Tabla player exchange a dazzling call and response.

From a Listener’s standpoint, a fully realized Raga is like a slow motion crescendo, with the intensity slowly building over what can be two hours in a live performance, and can be tremendously involving.  One thing I’ve noticed in one performance is that everyone around me was breathing in unison.  While I’m a big lover of the Western classical tradition,  there are some unique benefits that Hindustani music can offer a listener who is willing to try something different.

Anyway- it’s not my intention to flood this site with Hindustani  Classical, but to offer a sample work every once in a while.

Title: Re: Indian Classical Music
Post by: jowcol on August 18, 2012, 12:51:09 pm
Raga Chandra Neel by OM Chourasiya (Santur)
Om Prakash Chourasiya, santur
M.N. Bhale, tabla
D. Bhagwut, tanpura

Source LP Info:
Label: Disques Espérance – ESP 165 543, Disques Espérance – ESPERANCE 165 543
Series: Prestige de la musique extraeuropéenne – L'Inde Vol. 8
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Released: 1981

The Santur is related to the Western Hammered Dulcimer (Or a smaller Cimablom without damper pedals).   It is an ancient instrument, with versions going back at least a thousand years. It originated in Persia, but also was a folk instrument in the Kashmir Region.  Over the last 50 years or so it has been adapted to Indian classical music by the maestro Shivkumar Sharma.  The reason I got pulled into this is that I play the hammered dulcimer, and have the players in India to be light years ahead of those in the west, and the material also plays up the instrument's strengths and avoids many of its limitations.

This album was the first by Chourasiya, and, although the Alap is  not as polished as Sharma, he has a great sense of Rhythm and also gets some wonderful tones out of the bass strings.   This was transferred from LP to Cassette to Digital-- it may be a bit trebly...