Friday, September 17, 2004

Missing the Class...

I don't know about anyone else, but I personally will miss this portion of our First Year Seminar. I really enjoyed this class. Not only was singing these raga's at 9am fun, but it woke you up and warmed your voice up too! Keeping tala and singing at the same time was hard at first, but like anything else after you do it so many times it just comes natural. After doing my singing exam this morning, I found that even if I missed a pitch, I was still keeping perfect raga. My hand seemed to be in its own little world. For me its kind of like when I play the piano. When I first started it was hard to constantly sit straight up while playing. (This also can be compared to sitting indian style). However, eventually it was just a habbit. When I sat down to play, I sat straight up. While I was singing the ragas, my hand/fingers would automatically keep tala. Throughout this class there were times when I wished we could have had a few days just to listen to Dr. Johnson's experience of living in South India. I can't imagine the culture shock! I hope that we will be able to borrow the shruti box again, because I would love to show all of my Cincinnati friends the way of singing ragas!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Where do I go from here?

So I just had a revelation; I don't know where to go on Monday! The Indian portion of the First Year Seminar is over and now I don't know where to go next. I guess I'll just follow the crowd on Monday.
When thinking about all of this I had another revelation. As American's we have to decide for ourselves where we are going in our lives. In Indian culture, if your father is a musician then you'll be one too. No one in my family is a musician. I'm going into uncharted territory. It's probably a lot easier in India because the family's of musicians are also musicians. I'm very lucky to have a supportive family, but I have a lot of friends whose family's are not so supportive of their musical endeavors.
While thinking about going places I thought of something that my voice teacher told me today. Dr. Irwin said to me, "Stacey you're going places." Okay...that's great. But where am I going? Where do I go? (as the legendary song from the musical Hair asks.) I yearn for a "normal" life. I want a husband, kids, and a nice little house in the suburbs. However there is a huge part of me that also wants so much more. I don't want to follow the crowd. I want to sing. I want to be on the stage and touch people with my art. I want to travel, and see the world. Hell, I want to change the world. Where do I go from here?
I mustn't spend too much time worrying however because I think, that maybe, I can do everything I want...and more.


Indians, the ultimate multi-taskers

Has anyone else noticed how much Indian musicians have to multi-task? It's crazy! Indian singers keep tala with their hands and sing the syllables at the same time. Not to mention dealing with all of the noise in the background. A typical Indian concert has people going in and out, people keeping Tala with the musicians, and others just noisily having a good time. Can you imagine someone doing any of these things at a Western classical concert? They'd probably get thrown ou. Indian musicians also do oodle of improvising, which is challenging also, and they somehow manage to stay together throughout the craziest changes in pitch, rhythmn, and tempo. Indian musicians have amazing ears to be able to keep up with a vocalist who is just winging it. Before this class, I thought of Indian music as folksy and kind of primitive, but now I have a new found respect for these talented musicians.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Karnataka Sangeeta Sastra

After studying the music of South India this week, I found it very interesting how a vaggeyakara (lyricist and songwriter) is so well-rounded. In The Illustrated Companion to South Indian Classical Music, Ludwig Pesch states that "a person who is recognized as being a genuine vaggeyakara would have undergone training in several allied disciplines, such as music theory, performance, poetry, and often dance or drama. Given the difficulty of mastering more than one among these ancient and highly developed art forms, it is understandable that a musician who has such variegated interests and experiences is regarded as belonging to the highest class of composers" (153).
It is fascinating how classical concerts of South India and Western culture contrast. Dr. Johnson's story about the classical South Indian concert at Indiana University really puts this difference into perspective. Dr. Johnson was thoroughly enjoying and keeping tala to the South Indian music at the concert, and the man next to him asked him if he would stop. The duration of concerts in South India is also intriguing. Concerts lasting two to three hours are a relatively recent phenomenon. Until a few decades ago, it was customary for a musician to treat his audience to five or more hours.
According to Pesch, "Karnatic music is literally 'learnt by heart' because first it needs to be listened to attentively, memorized faithfully, and ultimately rendered with feeling."

Indian Concerts

Even though it's only been 1 week and 2 days in this class, i feel like i've learned so much. All of the ragas, and just listening to that twenty five minute piece was amazing! Then to learn that that was the shortest song Dr. Johnson could find. I can't believe those concerts go on for hours and hours...I don't know how the performers do it! Dr. Johnson also said that while at these concerts the people in the audience sit as close as possible to each other so there is no open space, and while the audience is listening and enjoying they keep tala (tempo) for the performers. It was also interesting comparing the Indian way of being an audience member and our way. If you went to one of our concerts and started slapping your leg to keep the tempo, or if you just got up and walked out then the performers would get very insulted. Although if you don't slap on your leg and wobble your head in India during a performance then that's considered insulting. I just love that I'm getting exposed to this type of music!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

My Legs Still Ache.....

Wow! This first week in the Indian music seminar was so cool. I would have never guessed that their music was so intricate and sophisticated. The first thing in class we did everyday was begin with a raga. We also learned about the many different types of Indian musical instruments. The part of India we are learning about is the southern half. Learning about their music has also given me a greater understanding of the many, many, many, many different types of music out there. It shows that what we learn in music is only a very small fraction of what there actually is to learn. Sitting "Indian style" was hard on my legs, but I ready for the next week to what it can.

UPDATE!!!!! I forgot to mention Baliwood. So according to our guru Baliwood music is their equivalent to our Brittany Spears, well sort of. The neat thing about Baliwood is that they come out with the sound track even before the movie comes out. So they know all the songs way before the movie comes out so if the movie has a bad sound track the movie will do very badly. If you are going to watch a baliwood film make sure you like musical interludes, because about one third of the movie is music and dancing, sort of like Broadway. Also Baliwood comes out with 4x's as many movies than that of Hollywood. Also the movies are about 3 hours long, this is because the Indians want their entertainment to last the entire night. So they wont have to worry about doing anything afterwards.

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.