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Living Traditions: 21 articles for 21st-century Indian classical music

Welcome to Living Traditions - a new written collection by Darbar's George Howlett, exploring how music with ancient roots is adapting to a fast-paced, interconnected modern world. Expand your appreciation through 21 different perspectives!

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11 May 2019

What is Rasa? The 'essence' or 'juice' - a flowing nectar of emotional experience

Rasa (also spelt ras) is the word for 'juice' in many Indian languages. In a musical sense its meaning is closer to the English words 'essence', 'flavour', or even 'self-luminosity'.

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11 May 2019

What is Prahar? Time theory in Indian Classical Music

Apart from musical content and the esoteric concept of rasa ('juice, essence, flavour') Indian classical raags (melodic structures) are also assigned to particular times of day or night to maximise their emotional impact on the listener.

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11 May 2019

Guru-Shishya Parampara: Master and disciple, knowledge through surrender

Indian classical music is largely a hereditary tradition, generally taught in a pedagogical fashion and handed down from father to son. Since Indian music is rarely written down, watching and listening to the teacher - or guru...

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11 May 2019

Why do Indian musicians tune their instruments in front of the audience?

One famous story of an Indian musician tuning before his audience has now taken a permanent place in the annals of West-meets-Indian-music history:

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11 May 2019

Indian Music Etiquette for Listeners: learn about the unspoken rules for audiences

As an ancient tradition, Indian classical music carries its own hereditary code of etiquette and, apart from the guidelines governing the master-disciple relationship (see Guru-Shishya-Parampara)...

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11 May 2019

Brief Origins of Indian Classical Music: From Vedic chanting onwards

It is generally believed that Indian classical music has its origins in the religious observances of the Aryan people who arrived in India some 3,000 years ago, pushing India's local population...

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11 May 2019

Why do Indian musicians tug at their ears when mentioning a senior figure in music?

To touch, or tug at one or both ears, is a visible sign of repentance in South Asian cultures. But one often notices that Indian musicians, as well as their disciples, perform this action when uttering the name of a maestro...

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11 May 2019

The Evolution of Indian Film Music: Mixing East and West, North and South

Ever since the talkies (films with sound) arrived in India; the first being Alam Ara in 1931 (pictured above), film music quickly established itself as the music of the masses.

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11 May 2019

The Bansuri: the humble bamboo reed of cowherds

The bansurior bamboo flute is an ancient wind instrument made of a single hollow shaft of bamboo with six or seven finger holes. Its name originates from the Sanskrit for wood, bans a the word for musical note(s), sur, and is a generic term..

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11 May 2019

The Shehnai: a folk instrument elevated to classical music

The name shehnai comes from the Persian word, shah meaning king, whlist nai or ney is the generic term for any kind of wind-blown flute-like instrument.

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11 May 2019

The Santoor: from Sufi folk to the classical stage

The santoor is an ancient folk instrument thought to have originated in Persia, from where, according to some scholars, it made its way to India.

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11 May 2019

Legendary Figures: Rabindranath Tagore, the great Bengali polymath

Born in 1861 in Calcutta (now called Kolkata), Rabindranath Tagore was the most outstanding polymath of his age.

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11 May 2019

Legendary Figures: Ustad Imdad Khan and Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan, fountainheads of two great string...

Ustad Imdad Khan (1848-1920, pictured above) was a sitar and surbahar (bass sitar) player born in Agra as a fourth-generation musician, His family's musical tradition would, thanks to his efforts, become known as the Imdadkhani gharana...

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11 May 2019

Legendary Figures: Swami Haridas and Tansen, mythic innovators of North India

Swami Haridas, a mystic-musician and renowned guru of the early 16th century, is thought to have had an innate knowledge of classical music gained through numerous spiritual and devotional practices.

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New to Indian Music

Guru-Shishya Parampara: Master and disciple, knowledge through surrender

Indian classical music is largely a hereditary tradition, generally taught in a pedagogical fashion... read more

What is Rasa? The 'essence' or 'juice' - a flowing nectar of emotional experience

Rasa (also spelt ras) is the word for 'juice' in many Indian languages. In a musical sense its meaning... read more

Why do Indian musicians tune their instruments in front of the audience?

One famous story of an Indian musician tuning before his audience has now taken a permanent place in... read more

Hindustani

The Sarod: From Afghanistan to Hindustani classical music

The sarod is a plucked string instrument, now as popular and predominant in North Indian classical... read more

North and South: One country, one music, two classical traditions

There are two kinds of Indian classical music, Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian),... read more

Performance format for Hindustani classical vocals: elements of a classical recital

A vocal performance of classical Indian music is ranked higher than a purely instrumental one (see... read more

New to indian Classical Music?

The beginner's guide to Indian classical music. Whether you’re completely new to raga music or just need a refresher, we’ve put together this brief overview of all things raga music to help you feel at ease when visiting one of our concerts or watch our videos on our YouTube or our Darbar Concert Hall.

 

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