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The Indian jazz fusion band, Shakti, with jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, ghatam maestro Vikku Vinayakaram and violin virtuoso L. Shankar as its original members, is now fifty years old. Watch this production of tiny desk concert by NPR of Shakti with new members Shankar Mahadevan on vocals, Ganesh Rajagopalan on violin and Selva Ganesh Vinayakaram on mridangam, joining John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain. If you have not attended Shakti 50 concerts, here's a chance to watch their mesmerizing performance !
Who can describe the charm and elegance of the Lord? Enta mudho enta sogaso is a Telugu composition of Thyagaraja, the 19th-century Carnatic composer, in the raga Bindu Malini. Watch Bombay Jayshri’s melodious singing of this song at the Sydney Opera House.
A young girl matches every swaram, gamakam, and nuance of a raga with her much experienced grandmother, with ease and élan that belies her age. Watch this graceful Veena Duet by noted musicologist Dr. R S Jayalakshmi and her granddaughter C Charulatha, where the veena comes alive with melody in their hands.
Caranatic Music Association of North America (CMANA) has published a nice Coffee Table Book in commemoration of its 40th anniversary. Follow the link to read or download the PDF version of the book..
Classical dances are often included in Indian movies, sometimes the protagonist being a dancer, highlighting the challenges and struggles of a classical dancer. Here is a list of Seven Movies, compiled by an art enthusiast.
Valmiki’s Nama Ramayana is very popular in south India. This condensed version of the epic, with its 108 verses makes it easier to read, recite and sing Ramayana.
South Indian weddings are incomplete without this song. Thyagaraja, the 19th-century Carnatic composer, sings the praises of Seeta’s husband, Lord Rama, whose virtues are unmatched.
Mohiniattam, one of the classical dance forms of Kerala, has evolved through the ages like all other art forms. Here’s a documentary by Films Division of India, that takes us through the journey of Mohiniattam through the ages.
Mallari is a traditional music played on Nadaswaram, the traditional wind instrument of south India, accompanied by Thavil, the double-headed drum, during the ceremonial procession of the temple deities. It is played in the raga Gambeera Nattai, set to a specific thalam. The ancient temples such as the ones in Thiruvarur, Srivilliputhur, and Chidambaram have their own unique Mallari tradition. Here’s a Mallari performed at Mayuranathar temple in Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu, India.
We have watched and listened to Nadaswaram, the traditional wind instrument that is ubiquitous in all temple festivals, weddings, and other auspicious occasions. We have listened to Carnatic music on the keyboard, a modern, contemporary instrument. Combining these two instruments to present a concert is unique and rare as it requires adjustments in pitch and styles to match and complement each other. Watch Nagumomu of Thyagajara in this unique blend of tradition and contemporary instrumentation.
Roman Romance, composed by a team of talented artists, including composer Martin Jourdan, violinist Sayee Rakshit, pianist Michael Arrom, and mridanganist Kuchibhotla Saigiridhar. It combines elements of Indian and Western classical music and speaks the global language of music.
The song that inspired Indians to fight for freedom continues to inspire patriotism even now, as India celebrates its 75th year of independence. Watch this performance of Vande Maataram performed in one of India’s classical dance style, Odissi.
"Rhythm is always inside of us; we need to explore that," asserts Giridhar Udupa, the Ghatam artist. The language of Indian rhythms is ordered, intricate, and alluring. Whether they are classical instruments like the Mridangam, Thavil, Ghatam, or Kanjira or folk instruments like the Thappu, Parai, or Urumi, Indian percussion instruments are distinctive in their sounds, physical makeup, and settings and uses. An intriguing documentary series called The Hidden Drummers of India investigates the vibrant percussion traditions in India.
The beauty of the voices unencumbered by musical instruments brings a different dimension and grace to the song. Applying the Acapella style to Carnatic music in a fusion of deep-rooted South Indian konokkol enables us to appreciate the elegance and depth of the oldest song form in the world.
A melifluous city square sitar rendition, that puts the listeners in a trance for a few minutes. This sitar player exhibits his passion for Indian classical music, and the instrument, converting the place into an open-air theatre with a bunch of spectators.
Though not very common, pairings of Nadaswaram and edaykka, two of the ancient instruments of South India belonging to temple music traditions, can be seen in some temples in Kerala. Watch a recording of this traditional music by Blue Planet Cinema.
The healing power of music is something that every culture in the world recognizes. Indian cultures have been using music therapy for thousands of years. Raga Chikitsa means “healing through the use of raga.” Raga Chikitsa is defined as “the knowledge of how to use raga for the purposes of healing".
Below are a selection of both Carnatic and Hindustani ragas for some common ailments.
The three-day-long Konark festival, celebrating the classical dances of India and held at the Konark Sun Temple in the state of Odisha, attracts audiences from all over the world. The festival includes classical Indian dance forms such as Odissi, Kathak, Bharatanatyam, and Kuchipudi. The festival also boasts folk dances as well as offerings of local arts and crafts.
We know that the story of Rama has travelled to other parts of the Asian continent and taken roots in their culture, over centuries. But it a surprise to see that Ramayana is an integral part of music and dance in some of the South East Asian countries. The shared cultural history of South East Asian countries with India is evident while watching the ASEAN Plus Ramayana organized by the Ministry of culture of Thailand. Ramayana performances of 8 ASEAN member countries – India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – were featured in this unique presentation.
Women were barred from playing the Rudra Veena until Jyoti Hegde took it upon her shoulders, literally, defying gender discrimination and superstition. She strode into a male-dominated arena with determination to become a pioneer. The earliest depiction of this ancient instrument, revered in Hindu mythology and history, is found in the murals in the Ajanta caves. Here is an interesting article on Jyoti Hegde and on the origins and history of Rudra Veena.
Like Higgins Bhagavathar, who was attracted to Carnatic music, the French Carnatic vocalist Emmanuelle Martin’s soulful rendering of the songs with grace and understanding of the nuances is sure to enthrall her audience. In January 2016, she joined Ariane Mnouchkine and the troupe of the Théâtre du Soleil to train actors in singing and karnatic music for their latest creation "Une Chambre en Inde". Emmanuelle is a disciple of eminent carnatic vocalist TM.Krishna.
In the backdrop of barren desert sand, a young gypsy girl is dancing to a beautiful song in the lilting voice of a young boy. Even though nomadic life in the desert is hard, the joyous smile on the girl’s face and the vibrant colors of her dress show resilience and their ability to enjoy life, filling it with music and dance, in the midst of the rigors of daily life.
The book Carnatic Summers by music historian V.Sriram throws light on the circumstances that led to the rise of some of the eminent Carnatic stars of yesteryears. It takes a peek at their lives off-stage, the struggles and influences that shaped their music styles. There are lots of interesting anecdotes, such as a musician helping a critic who degraded him, musicians uniting to propagate Tamil music, and fund-raising for a fellow artiste. This is a good book to read about the lives of the great musicians whose music you love. Available on Amazon.
In 2020, when the world was gripped by pandemic, Indian Oil launched a digital concert series. The 12-episode series gives the most-needed opportunity for upcoming artistes to showcase their talents and establish their presence. The concerts are performed in unusual venues such as schools, museums, heritage sites, and parks. The series, features Hindustani and Carnatic musicians. 1) Aditya Modak 2) Brindha Manickavasakan 3) Deepsankar Bhatacharjee 4) Sruthi Sagar 5) Pratik Shrivastava 6) Rutuja Lad 7) Noopur Gadgil 8) Aditya Khandwe 9) Ramana Balachandran 10) Vignesh Ishwar 11) Shruti Vishwakarma Marathe
Would you like to listen to Hindustani ragas, appropriate for the time of the day you are listening? Here is Ragya, an app, that is available for iOS and android platforms. The appropriate raga for the time of the day is said to have an impact on the emotional status and help in reducing stress and ailments.
When we think of Kathak, the first name that comes to mind is Birju Maharaj. This Kathak legend combined poise and rhythm to convey traditional and contemporary stories with élan. He was a singer, percussionist, poet and a great teacher. Here is a glimpse of this amazing maestro, who loved his students and touched millions of hearts with his art.
Women played an important role in India’s freedom struggle. They organized rallies, protest marches, joined the Indian National Army under Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, performed street plays.. The list goes on. Their patriotic songs inspired millions of Indians to join the freedom struggle. Here is a patriotic song recorded by Captain Laxmi Seghal of the Jhansi Rani regiment of INA, in 1942.
It is a tradition in South India to begin an event with the auspicious music of Nadaswaram, the south Indian wind instrument. Whether it is a temple festival or a wedding in a family or a house warming ceremony, the reverberating sounds of Nadaswaram will have the pride of place. Listen to TN Rajarathnam Pillai, the legendary Nadaswaram vidwan, presenting this auspicious music before the announcement of independence(Time cue 2:12)
For a music enthusiast, Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bengaluru is a place to visit. This gigantic concert hall, shaped like the seven-stringed violin of the legendary carnatic violinst T.Chowdiah, opened in 1980. The venue can seat 1,000 people. No other musician of any instrument in India has the honor of such a memorial. It is a fitting tribute not only to the legendary musician but to all performers.
A 22-year-old young performer is on a mission to keep ‘nokkuvidya pavakali’ (നോക്കു വിദ്യ പാവകളി), a unique form of traditional puppetry of Kerala, alive. The performer KS.Renjini has learnt the art from her grandmother, Padma Shri Moozhikkal Pankajakshi. The uniqueness of this form of puppetry is that the puppets are hoisted on a two-feet long stick that the artist balances by placing it between her nose and the upper lip. Read about this here and watch a YouTube video.
A daughter has a special place in her father’s heart. Carnatic violinist V Sanjeev and vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan have teamed up to create the song Magale Kanmaniye. It is fitting that the song is released on National Girls Child Day (January 24). It salutes all daughters with dreams to achieve something in life and fathers who support them. Watch on YouTube and other platforms.
All India Radio (AIR) has served to keep alive the classical music traditions of India through Radio Sangeeth Sammelan concerts. AIR honors great masters of Carnatic and Hindustani music. We can now listen to the of yesteryear great maestros on YouTube, uploaded by AIR.
This 8th century shore temples of Mahabalipuram (Tamilnadu, India) have been the backdrop for the Mamallapuram Dance Festival. This mega 30-day event, promoted by the Tamilnadu tourism during December - January months every year, features about 90 performances. Here’s a chance to watch the traditional classical dances and folk dances of India on YouTube.
Indian classical music concerts are usually part of music festivals and religious festivals. For the first time, a curated digital music and dance festival is being filmed to create an awareness of our planet's ecology and its fragile natural resources. Classical musicians are stepping out of their comfort zones and perform amidst ordinary working people and understanding the realities of life. Watch the festival on Shaale.com.
We can keep listening to the soul-filling song: "Maha Ganapathim" anytime, anywhere.. Here's a rousing contemporary interpretation of this 200-year-old classic by South Indian poet-composer Muthuswami Dikshitar in the soulful voice of Shankar Mahadevan. Very cool.