Sunday, September 12, 2004

Indian Music: Week 1

As entertaining as Matt’s wonderful renditions of the ragas that he broke into during orientation were, quite honestly I was a bit uneasy about what this part of the course entailed. I am by no means a vocalist and do not pretend that I am. Frankly, the combination of singing a completely different scale with different syllables in addition to the fact that most of the learning was done aurally made me a bit nervous. All music students have had quite a bit of experience either reading about a particular culture out of a textbook or playing music of another culture, but learning about a culture through their music is something that I am unfortunately relatively unfamiliar with.
For me, India’s culture is still quite foreign to me. I had a social studies teacher in seventh grade who told us on the first day of classes, “Virtually everyone here is has ancestors in Europe, therefore we will not be learning about any of the European countries throughout this year. We pick up a lot about those cultures in our own society. We study the countries that we are not familiar with because an understanding of these cultures is what your generation will need to function in this growing global society.” At the time, I didn’t know how true it was, nor have I figured out to what extent this will be true in the future. For me, this portion of the seminar has been most beneficial for me just to see a small part of what makes up the Indian culture. Ninety-nine percent of the culture is still left untouched by the end of the seminar, but I think that the best aspect of it is that it is through a medium that all music students can relate to. I know that there is so much of their music that I will never understand, but I am enjoying the opportunity to “test the waters” and to see part of another culture’s music that is very different from our own, yet they share the same passion for it that we do.