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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Understanding Indian Classical Music


I've recently developed a deeper interest in appreciating and understanding Indian classical music, of which there are two major forms -- South Indian (Carnatic) and North Indian (Hindustani). A brief exploration is sufficient to realize that this is a very complex discipline indeed, which explains why ustads (maestros) aren't made overnight but are the result of a lifelong pursuit of classical music as a passion and career.

By the way, the masters whom I admire most are the ones who leverage their classical foundation to deliver successful popular music. There a many examples, but the ones I am most familiar with include Jagjit Singh, Daler Mehndi, Sonu Nigam, and Shankar Mahadevan (of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy).

In this blog post I merely hope to document the major concepts and bookmark the links to which I hope to return when the next wave of inspiration strikes me to develop my amateurish understanding to the next level.

I would ask serious students to consider the Shankar Mahadevan Academy (SMA), a carefully constructed online system of coursework that is both thorough and fun. But before you pay a hefty sum to enroll at the SMA, you should probably check out the excellent raag-hindustani.com website to get a sense of what you're in for in case you decide to take the plunge. Also, worthy of attention are some online videos including Understanding the Basics of Indian Raga Music. Meanwhile, I shall return to my present level of engagement with this art form, which is listening to Rashid Khan's amazing performances cataloged in The Best of Rashid Khan. Ustad Rashid is a rising star who is presently at the peak of his form. I got hooked on to him when I saw him perform at Jagjit Singh's remembrance (you MUST WATCH this even if it's the only link you click on this blog post).

Before I leave, here's a machine gun version of the key terms and concepts. It all starts with swars (notes), which develop into ragas (a series of notes), accompanied by a tala (beat). And I better stop before I go astray. So, check the sources above and enjoy!

Other good references.

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