Pick up a copy of Outlook Traveller Getaways’ Karnataka Travel Guide to read my stories on the rich and varied experience this ancient land offers. Here’s an excerpt from my article on Carnatic Music; to read more, head to your nearest bookstore:
“…The unmatched complexity of Carnatic music stands testament to its rich cultural underpinnings. This near-ethereal form of art could only have sprung from a society that valued the guru-shishya parampara, carrying forward the hard work of poets, composers and artistes from the years gone by. Energetic and soulful, Carnatic music is the sound of our ancient civilisation, distilled down to its purest form….
…It was around the 12th or 13th centuries that India’s music traditions, regarded by purists as a divine gift from the heavens, began to evolve into two distinct schools, with a clean break happening some time between the publication of the Sangita Ratnakara (mid-13th century) and the Sangita Sara (late-14th century)….
…In north India, the arrival of Persian and Islamic influences led, eventually, to what’s now called Hindustani classical. But south of the Vindhyas, it was the Vaishnava Bhakti traditions (such as the Haridasas) that held sway, and under the patronage of kings and emperors, eventually evolved into the highly complex style of Carnatic music….
…Like all traditions must if they are to survive, Carnatic too has moved with the times, keeping its essence intact, while incorporating new elements. Many musicians have expanded their repertoire, putting their classical training to use in jazz, fusion, pop and rock, and taking classical music to new audiences: There’s Lakshminarayana Subramaniam, who’s recorded with the likes of Yehudi Menuhin and Herbie Hancock, and performed with the New York Philharmonic. His brother, Lakshminarayana Shankar, famous for his work in fusion, can name John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, and many, many more global stars as collaborators. Then, there are Nithyasree Mahadevan and Sudha Ragunathan, who’ve made their mark in fusion and cinema….
…Carnatic lives on, stronger than ever, sometimes flying the standard of tradition, and sometimes welcoming new influences.”