Reflection, feelings, comments

March 12, 2017 at 04:08 PM · I am a Carnatic Violinist (South Indian Classical style) and am currently minoring in ethnomusicology. For an assignment, I need to get feedback and reflection from people who are not acquainted with the style of music. I have posted a link of me playing a piece in a raga known as Kapi below. I would really appreciate it if you all could comment, and let me know what and how you feel at the end, what you noticed about the performance (differences in feelings, and like compare contrast technique wise with Western Music), and just comments in general. Thank you so much for the help!

Replies (23)

March 12, 2017 at 04:34 PM · This is interesting music! How did you tune your violin? I heard notes below normal violin range, so I'm just curious. Lots of interesting grace notes, glissandos and perhaps a little vibrato. This is definitely somewhat like Western classical in the sense that the violinist does shift and there were a few double stops. The piece seems to be in something like E minor, although it's best described as being modal. E is definitely the tonic, though.

March 12, 2017 at 09:50 PM · That was certainly interesting. My overall impression was that unlike Western music, which is directional and goal-oriented, this music felt static. It changed and varied, certainly, but more like layers atop one another than like phrases building towards a climax. I almost felt as if I were going into a trance by the end.

I really couldn't see your technique well enough to comment beyond the obvious: you are sitting on the floor with the violin in a different posture. I think there is a heavy influence of Western technique though.

March 12, 2017 at 10:24 PM · @ella yu,

Thank you so much for the nice comments :). As you said, the tonic note is E and it is based on the western classical e minor scale, though it has quite a bit of differences. The way I tuned is the a string is an e and the e string is a b. The g string is an octave lower than the a string and the d string is an octave lower than the a string. The glissando and oscillations are known as gamakas and they are what give the identity of the ragas (makes the scale a ragam). Thank you so much again :)

@Mary Ellen Goree,

You are certainly right about a lot of layers. In the genre of Carnatic music the range of pieces can range from something climatic and energetic to something soothing and peaceful. A large portion is improvisation and that is based on the feel of the song. Thank you so much for the nice comment :). The difference in the posture is due to the oscillations or gamaka. I also play Western Classical music and have been incorporating some of the western techniques as well. Thank you again! :)

March 13, 2017 at 02:22 AM · Would love any other comments, I need to record at least 15 for the assignment. Thanks so much!

March 13, 2017 at 09:16 AM · Well, I felt it told a story, but that I couldnt understand it because of cultural differencies. (Im northern European). But then again I felt that the western technique was showing through it sometimes and sometimes that got me distracted from the story.

I did like the rhrythm of it and the irregularity compated to traditional western music, it reminded me of my habit of singing with my so called own or nonsense language when feeling deep emotions, it sure was soul music. But then again I sometimes got lost and the spell broke. This sounds probably funny but I found myself singing a version of Ravels Bolero after listening :D

March 13, 2017 at 09:57 AM · I am really curious as to how this music (which was apparently composed) is communicated. Is it just by hearing? Or is it written down in some music notation? To me this sounds like one big improvisation from beginning to end. Yet, once the large drum starts playing with you, I noticed some definitely planned hemiola rhythms. Like Mary Ellen I miss phrasing, this music seems like it can go on forever, there is almost no structure. Then again, I noticed that after your slow solo introduction, you seem to get an agreement from the drummer to start playing faster. So there is some structure after all, but very little. The man with the small tambourine seems utterly disinterested and I don't hear what he is doing. Note this is just my impression, I am not saying he IS disinterested, only that it seems like that to me! For the rest I think you play very well. Your tone is clear throughout with some very good "hooked" bowings and very fast fingers. Although the tonality of this music is a bit different, still I got the firm impression that you never played out of tune. Thanks for this music experience!

March 13, 2017 at 10:34 AM · I had another question too: one hears a constant drone tone in the background, who is making that?

March 13, 2017 at 10:38 AM · Still another thing that I found remarkable, lacking totally the cultural background: when you begin playing you seem to constantly seek confirmation from your two partners, but they seem to do their best to totally ignore you! It appears very funny to my eyes, of course, as I say, I totally lack the cultural background.

March 13, 2017 at 12:30 PM · @Maria Lammi,

Thank you so much! The breaking of the spell has to do with me having to better convey the music. Some of the great masters can keep you in that spell forever, ofc depending on if the song is supposed to be slow and soothing, or fast and exciting. I can see the connection to Ravels Bolero!

March 13, 2017 at 12:37 PM · @Jean Dubuisson,

Traditionally, this music is passed down orally, but there are records and notations as well, just to retain the authenticity. Though it is composed, there are huge portions of improvisation in between which add to the feel and this comes from the musician's interpretation of the song. None of the concert is planned, as we have not even rehearsed once; however the process is similar and thats the thrill in Carnatic Music. The solo introduction is known as alapana, an ametric form of improvising, and the entrance of the drums signals the start of the song. Again, I reiterate that this is a very slow song, and there are many varieties of songs in Carnatic Music. The improvisation is based on the song, and the musician's virtuosity. The man with the small tambourine (Kanjira), is definitely into it, but the feeling you get is just because of lack of stage presence. The drone in the background is traditionally an instrument known as a tambura (highlights and emphasizes the tonic note and the perfect fifth from then), though electronic versions are very popular now. I do seek confirmation from my partners, as I like to interact with the audience and co-artists because I think it adds to the stage presence. Thank you so much for the nice comments!

March 14, 2017 at 01:06 AM · Thank you all for the nice comments :) I would really appreciate more as I need to record at least 15.

March 14, 2017 at 05:48 PM · So very fine! THANK YOU!! Your playing is stunningly beautiful! Always perfect intonation and expressiveness! Your music takes me high and low, so deep inside and yet so far away, so in-the-moment and yet so out-of-all-time-and-space, so very pure and sacred yet so human, showing divinity in human awareness and creativity.

I have loved Indian music for decades, I have some recordings of ragas and heard Ravi Shankar play in concert about 30 years ago at UCONN Jorgensen auditorium. Yehudi Menuhin had a very delightful improvisation session with Ravi Shankar, which I listen to in his awesome 4-CD set "In Celebration." I also love his CD called "Chants of India."

Just 2 weeks ago I heard (Indian-American composer) Reena Esmail's "This Love Between Us: Parayers for Unity" in which she combined baroque orchestra with sitar and tabla. I generally don't like much new music but she overcame my resistance so much I'd call her the Bach of our time: universal, sacred and human, finest choral work and orchestration, sensitive and appropriate selection and setting of texts, masterfully composed!

I mention Reena Esmail as a kindred spirit to you, Kamalakiran, and I love you both for bringing traditional Indian music to our western ears so spiritually hungry and ready for your transcendent combinations of composition and improvisation.

March 15, 2017 at 03:11 AM · @Will,

Thank you so much for the extremely wonderful and kind comments! It means a lot to me that I was able to make you feel that way, and I am trying my best to always practice and improve to the best extent I can! I believe music is all about feeling, and I try my best to bring that through.

Pandit Ravi Shankar is a maestro and I am a big fan! Yehudi Menuhin has gifted violins to great Indian violin maestros including MS Gopalakrishnan, and Lalgudi Jayaraman, and L Subramaniam. He has also collaborated with L. Subramaniam.

I have heard Reena as well, and I really think that her selections are really well done! I would recommend that you listen to an artist by the name TM Krishna (I have a feeling you will like his style, as it is very emotion based).

Thanks again for all the wonderful comments, it means a lot and I will work hard to continue to improve!

March 15, 2017 at 05:34 AM · Kamalakiran, I agree that music is definitely all about feel. Your music definitely evokes some feeling.

March 15, 2017 at 02:16 PM · Thank you so much that means a lot to me!

March 16, 2017 at 05:51 AM · Would appreciate any more comments as I still need 15 by the end of the week! Thanks so much!

March 17, 2017 at 10:17 PM · I'm worried that in my lessons I am as fidgety as your friends who are surely not as inattentive as they look!

I know little of the Karnatic styles, a little more more of the Northern Indian ones.

I think of the drone as a calm river from which the melody emerges during the alap like a magical bird, to enchant us with dazzling flights of rhythmical fancy before returning.

March 18, 2017 at 02:28 AM · Yes Kamalakiran, I just sampled all the tracks from TM Krishna's "Ramayana" album and love it! Beautiful singing and fine violin and sweet tambura. I put a few of his CDs on my Amazon wishlist, but unfortunately I have no money now to get any. Mostly he's on mp3 on Amazon but I only listen to CDs. One day when Ihave $ I'll go thru my Amazon wishlist and include one of his CDs along with the mostly renaissance and early baroque selections I've made.

March 18, 2017 at 04:59 AM · @adrian,

lol it's all a matter of stage presence ?? I agree with you completely that the drone forms the basis And from that emerges the melodies! :) thanks so much!!

March 18, 2017 at 05:00 AM · @will

There are actually a lot of his recent concerts on YouTube :) you are sure to find a lot of gems if you filter by upload date! I am enchanted by his approach to music! I really hope you get to listen to more of his amazing music! Thanks a lot :)

March 20, 2017 at 01:36 AM · I'm so close :) assignment is due on Tuesday, please anyone just some more reflections, feelings, and comments please!

March 20, 2017 at 03:30 AM · I absolutely love this kind of music, it's so spontaneous, organic, fluid. It seems to speak to the senses in a much more basic (primitive even?) form than our precisely choreographed Western music, but that doesn't mean it's without complexity or synchronization.

And it's even more amazing that you take the violin, a notoriously Western instrument, and make it sound completely at ease and native to that style of music. If I had just heard this without video I would have thought it was being played on some exotic instrument from a far-away land, not a fiddle. ;)

March 20, 2017 at 04:04 AM · Here are several thoughts:

-There's a lot of emphasis placed on posture for beginning students, so it was really interesting to me that the violin could be played this way seated (and it looks like perhaps held more in front rather than to the side?)

-At the same time, the right hand bowing looks "the same"

-Left hand technique is fascinating--would love it if you could post a close up sometime on what that looks like while playing

-Also though the other instrument pairing was interesting--playing together with drumming (as opposed to duets, string quarter, piano accompaniment)

If you needs more comments you may be able to use the ones from youtube or you could quick repost to reddit's violin page, which is not as professional as this one but may get more views.

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