Vibrating echoes of a traditional rhythm

Vibrating echoes of a traditional rhythm

Percussive touch

Entertaining: The event in progress.The Institute of Ethno Music recently organised a concert as a part of the ‘Tala Vadyotsava 2011 Music Conference’, that showcased an ensemble of global percussion instruments at the Bangalore Gayana Samaja. The event was held in honour of R K Srikantan, the chairman of the board of management and selection committee of the Percussive Arts Centre.

Srikantan plays and instructs on the art of Carnatic music, and has several disciples while his performance is a treat for the ears. The orchestra comprised Anasuya Kulkarni and her team of talented musicians. Conscious of the need to preserve the ancient musical traditions that Karnataka is famous for, Srikantan addressed the crowd on the importance of the pure heritage of Carnatic music, which he feels has been corrupted by a younger generation of musicians. The instruments that were showcased included traditional ones like the tabla, the mridangam, the flute and the violin, and a series of percussive instruments from countries around the world.

Anasuya Kulkarni began the ceremony by enlightening the audience on the origins and rhythm of each instrument that was being played by the orchestra. Many of these were made of bamboo and heavy woods commonly found in Africa, and so produced a deep, guttural sound that served as a background beat for indigenous tribal music.

However, Anasuya and her team had tweaked some of these instruments to better suit Indian sensibilities and showcased these forms of music as the central theme of the performance instead. She also demonstrated how the orchestra used verbal sounds to denote the rhythm of each instrument.

The global percussive instruments that were showcased in the performance included a Mexican fish drum, a slip drum, a double-headed Dono drum and cylindrical drums from Ethiopia and Senegal. In addition to this, there was a Ugandan seed box rattle, a Burmese wooden clapper and an instrument from China that composed of a padded stick beat against a rectangular piece of wood. A small, metallic instrument from Vietnam, which is played with the mouth and fingers, was also used. These instruments produced a variety of deep and guttural as well as light and high-pitched sounds, which the orchestra integrated to create pure forms of Carnatic music.

After enlightening the audience on the cross rhythms, multi-rhythms and tone of each instrument, Anasuya Kulkarni proceeded to play a few pieces, including the popular Vathapi Ganapathim Bhaje.

The diverse compositions were both slow and devotional as well as fast-paced. Some of the members of the orchestra also performed independently to better showcase the music of their individual instruments. The audience, who recognised many of the compositions and loved the show, participated by clapping their hands to the rhythm of the music.

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