NEWS & NOTES
The Other Festival – at Tiruvaiyaru - VAIDEHI IYER The Festival of Sacred Music at Tiruvaiyaru-by-the-Cauvery transformed a forgotten temple town into a landscape of rich possibilities. How can Tiruvaiyaru need introduction to music? Yet, there was not one discordant note in the elaborate and gently delivered introduction on the opening day of the recently concluded Festival of Sacred Music at Tiruvaiyaru-by-the-Cauvery. Thumri, listeners were told, is a form not unlike the padam-s and javali-s of “namba Carnatic music”. Soulful, romantic and philosophical by turns, it uses metaphors laced with love and longing to convey deeper, more spiritual meanings. Vidya Rao, a thumri-dadra performer, then commenced her recital after delightful verse-for-verse translations and nuanced interpretations of the songs she rendered on that moonlit night. Language and form transcended geography as the ruins of the Husoor Palace in Tiruvaiyaru became the setting for a style this temple town, with its own legendary musical history, enjoyed for the first time.
V.S. NARASIMHAN The return of the native - RAMESH VINAYAKAM V.S. Narasimhan is an outstanding classical violinist equally well versed in the Carnatic music and Western music traditions. In an amazing career distinguished by high quality, original music, delivered consistently in near anonymity for decades, Narasimhan first acquired expertise in the Carnatic violin, learning from his father, then adapted it to Tamil film music, learnt Western music, formed the Madras String Quartet and eventually hit upon the brilliant experiment of playing Carnatic music as a Western string quartet. He has thus come full circle in his musical journey, passionately determined to take Carnatic music to a sophisticated global audience. Here he is profiled by Ramesh Vinayakam, a young music director of repute. A student of Jacob John, he is a qualified teacher in the theory and practice of Western classical music. Trained in Carnatic music as well — Rukmini Ramani has been his guru — the author is a singer, lyricist and has composed music for devotional albums, films, teleserials, shortfilms, documentaries and advertisements, as well as fusion music. Epics and stories from folklore found their way into early Indian ‘talkies’. Music, often classical music or songs of the soil, came to dominate films. Orchestras of Indian classical musicians were formed and for the first time in the history of Carnatic music, live sound was recorded for posterity. The sound of Indian music was captured with equipment and expertise from the West. Indian musicians lapped up the opportunity in the new medium to reach a vast audience across the country.
THE SITAR - 2 Sitar music- DEEPAK S. RAJA Tala-s in sitar music Although early sitar music was performed in a variety of tala-s, performers soon gravitated towards Tritala (16 beats), which has remained its primary tala upto the present. A diversification of temporal orientations took place in the latter half of the 20th century. As a result, a fair amount of sitar music is now performed in other tala-s – mainly Jhaptala (10 beats) and Roopak (7 beats), but occasionally also Ektala (12 beats), Deepchandi (14 beats) and Dhamar (14 beats). Compositional styles Firoz Khan – a son or nephew of Khusro Khan – developed the earliest compositional style specifically for sitar in mid-18th century. His compositions featured stroke formats for medium tempo renditions in a variety of tala-s. They had melodic lines covering three octaves with large intervallic jumps, and also spanning three or four iterations of the rhythmic cycle. Probably because of the difficulty of executing them on the sitar, Firoz Khani compositions did not find widespread favour with sitarists. Rabab players however found them interesting and easier to execute because of the multiple-string execution facility on their short-necked instrument. The Phiroz Khani Gat thus became a part of the repertoire of the rabab, and its later derivative, the sarod.
Twirling Dervishes - SADHANA RAO A midst the limestone walls of Cairo’s Citadel, a makeshift auditorium is formed to showcase the art and rituals of Twirling Dervishes – an Order of dervishes that moved from Turkey (after it became a Republic) and settled in the area at the foot of the Citadel, just below the Sultan Hassan mosque. As the musicians and dervishes take their position on the performing arts platform, the character of the Citadel (once a military garrison) perceptively changes. Every inch of the terra firma gets bathed in asceticism and drenched in sprays of faith and belief. In the rhythmic chanting and twirling, the audience gets hypnotically tugged into another world. One can sense that every sigh uttered amongst the viewers is laced with a different and deep inflection, reflection and awe. Prayers and worship sprout wings literally on a twirl. It is the mystical lightfooted twirling images of the Sufi saint Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi and the fresh fluidity of his poetry that gave a tangible construct to the concept of twirling dervishes. Rumi’s son Sultan Walad organised the Mawlawiyah brotherhood and moved the Sufi dance ahead with the Order of Whirling Dervishes. ‘Dervish’ in Arabic and Turkish literally means the ‘sill of the door’ (dar). In the idea of a “twirling dervish”, it alludes to the one who is at the door of enlightenment, through his zikr (profound and meaningful remembrances of God) to attain a trancelike state of devotion.