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Showing posts from December, 2015

The Beatles, the Sitar and Norwegian wood

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George Harrison and the sitar, the Beatles
Beatles remain a favorite of mine and I have always liked the perky number Norwegian Wood. The opening chords stayed stuck in my memory and the other day I was wondering about how this instrument got used for the song, assuming naturally that it followed from the much talked about visit of the Beatles to Rishikesh and George’s training sessions with Ravi Shankar.  As I started checking it out, I found that the song predated their visit to India and that it had an interesting story behind it. So for those who like the song and the Beatles, here goes…
1964, The Beatles had a great tour in America, George Harrison the lead guitarist characterized it ‘every bit a knock-out’ and it was a time when they met equals like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Beatlemania spread in America and a second tour was announced for 1965. The last two shows at the Hollywood bowl were smash hits.
Just before they crossed the Atlantic once again, they finished shooting f…

Tanjore and its Carnatic music legacy

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Some weeks ago I delivered a short talk on this subject to a few friends in our music group and as it involved some study, I decided to write an article around it.We enjoy these Sunday afternoons trying out some songs under the watchful eyes and ears of our much beloved and patient teacher Sunitha and at times we go over a little bit of theory and history. With that backdrop, let’s get started and go over the matter presented in that short talk, not to be considered in any way an exhaustive treatise on the subject.

The Carnatic has variously been described as the land to the south of the Vindhyas or the land between the Krishna and Kaveri. While Carnatic music should simply mean as the music of the Carnatic, this blend of Indian classical music has also been defined using the various meanings of Kar and Karna, with the word Kar meaning old, black, or that which pleases the ear. So it could be music of the old, music that pleases the ear or music of the darker skinned people. All debata…

Sopana Sangeetham

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The music tradition of Kerala – A performance for the gods
We talked about the movement of Carnatic music stalwarts and capitals, its development in Tanjore, and the part played by the Tanjavur quartet. We also looked at the contributions of the famous Shadkala Govinda Marar from Kerala. Now let us change tack and focus on a music form which was in vogue in Kerala, one that was slightly different from the Carnatic music that we covered so far. In the process we will also very briefly touch upon the language prevalent in Kerala in the medieval times, namely Manipravalam and get to know the marar community.
There is nobody who has done better research on this subject than Leela Omcherry and her daughter Deepti Omcherry. The history of music in Kerala is explained by them in such detail and anybody who is keen on the subject is advised to refer their works or listen to their lucid interviews. This article will only serve to be an introduction and is based very much on the fine and painst…