Thursday, September 09, 2004

South India and RAGAS

So this week has been quite interesting. I must admit that I wasn't quite prepared for the craziness of the Indian culture. But i suppose "craziness" isn't the most PC word though. It's definitely different. I really like the idea of ragas instead of scales and the concept of having a guru is just awesome. That this person is basically your mentor, your protector, your companion and pretty much your life for the majority of your eduactional years is a completely new concept for us Westerners. By far, however, I think the instruments are the most enjoyable part for me. They are so different from the instruments that I have known my whole life. Even though some instruments are the same as our culture (the violin), that's the only thing that is shared- the instrument. It is tuned differently, held/played differently and doesn't even sound the same. It's kind of sad that now days all the instruments have to be amplified... Even the nadaswaram, which seriously doesn't need any amplification, AT ALL, gets amplified. Maybe some is needed with the larger sized concerts and such now, but it seems like it would take away from some of the history of... well, not being amplified- tradition, maybe. Another point I thought was interesting was that the Southern Indian culture prides the voice above all other instruments, but they don't judge voices the same as our Western culture does. There is no such thing as vibrato and people dont have any idea what good tone quality or anything is. My favorite instrument is the konnakkol, and the concept of learning an instrument by using the formation of your mouth is awesome. These percussionists learn how to make the different sounds of the drum with their voices before they actually play the drum and it sounds AWESOME. When I grow up, I'm going to become a famous konnakkol... player?

If you want to learn more about specific Indian Instruments, click here
The instruments we've learned about include: Nadaswaram, Ghatam, Violin, Tabla, Kanjira, Tavil, Veena (on this site: any of the Vina), Tambura, Mridangam, and Morsing (vibrating metal... thing, looks like pair of pliers, and is played with the lips.)