The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

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rajeshnat
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#2 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by rajeshnat » 04 Nov 2018, 16:07

Super write up lalitaram. I always like your solution angle instead of just lamenting you give some solution. I think in general there is over supply of quality vocalist . For sure many of them just hear their favourite vocalist stars and leave out the instrumentalist .

Just few more solution points:
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1. Nagaswaram is not generally not that fit for closed auditoriums the sound volume of thavil is usually high ,the volume should be brought down , there is an appreciation of GNB or SSI fourth generation sishya singing a nagaswara pidi in that bygone era as they all heard TNR and Karaikkurichi in open air temples in thirunageswaram and tiruvidaimarudhur. I think instead of you taking pains to host again in a closed hall in ragasudha why cannot you try it in mylapore karpagambal temple as venue. That open air auditorium will give the needed sound balance.

2. I once talked with a tavil vidwan who played for tirupppambaram brothers , now i forgot the thavil players name . He said the hard rings that they wear in their five fingers can be softened with little more padding , i was told even the stick of the tavil can be made with a little less volume inducing material , thavil vidwans have to bit tone down. This concept of special thavil is more for laya aficionados and not for general public.

3. Concerts of nagaswaram should bring the uniqueness where you feel that nAdham and that sangathi /sancharas is not possible with vocalist and only with nadaswara vadhyam it is possible . Nowadays even for the concerts that I attended the nadaswara is sounding bit less forcefull some are playing with extremely low shruthi , no big circling the mangala vadhya and the tukkada tail is as much as an aruna sayeeram concert.

4. I agree on education of soft skills , I would humbly suggest they should also learn to give lecdems in casual attire. One musician like Injikudi is marketing bit more modern but the rest of them are just positioning them as more of antha kalathu topless bhagavathars. The new listening public appreciate bit more contextual and relevant attire and polish.
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arasi
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#3 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by arasi » 06 Nov 2018, 02:45

Lalitharam,
Your mindfulness shows, as always--in your writing (add sensitivity to that), and in your valuable suggestions and in your persistent efforts in making CM stay classy and yet accessible to all. May your tribe increase, for the well being of CM! Jaya Balakrishnan follows her remarkable father's footsteps. Arkay and others add to this positive trend to fortify the positive elements which are needed for now and in the future.
Far from the madding crowd of ''ceppith thirivAraDi kiLiyE, seivadaRiyAraDi"...would go about ranting and raving, not knowing what to do...
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vgovindan
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#4 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by vgovindan » 06 Nov 2018, 22:16

A whole ecosystem has been damaged - rather destroyed - irretrievably. What we are attempting is 'conservation' - much like tigers. While I sincerely appreciate the efforts, the past glory of that community - wholly dedicated to music and dance - for many millennia, can never be resurrected. All the best.
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shankarank
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#5 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by shankarank » 07 Nov 2018, 20:03

I don't think the situation is any different that the countless sabhas where "concerts" go on. Just like it is said that the Govt. students feel good enough to produce some sounds for a family function engagement, the countless students in sabhas also just dish out methods: keerthanai, svaram, neraval etc.

One Vidvan who cannot be named now ;) , said "keerthanai solliTTU" - crudely translated as - "saying the keerthana". Even Pallavi is templated very much. Just a bit smart-alec. than villagers - that too, that is a perceptive thing , and why can we not call the latter smart as well.

SangItam developed when there was largesse in the form of produce (Tanjore ,KumbakOnam, Mysore), but there was a dharma in that society that regulated and recognized.
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RSR
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#6 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by RSR » 07 Nov 2018, 22:45

very nice article by 'gamakam'. Nagaswaram and VeeNa are characteristic instruments for Carnatic music. In Ramnavami music festival at Bangalore last year, there was a full-time Nagaswaram concert. ( as reported by Ramesh in 'music to my ears' blog. If Nagaswaram is unsuitable for music halls, they can be conducted in outdoor 'pandals' as in Bangalore. More than VeeNa, it is Nagaswaram which is played all over tamilnadu , in rural areas and temples much more than medium towns. Saiva mutts are doing great service by supporting nagaswaram artistes and preserving a unique tamil tradition. If we really want to preserve CM traditions, the activists should spread out to the districts. I read recently that Koviloor mutt has begun to impart training in Nagswaram. As Lalitharam correctly observes, poverty is a major handicap, as the instruments have to be purchased and maintained. ...Did TNR ajarathanam PioLai perform in nmusic academy? How?--------------------
here is piece by V,Sriram
https://www.thehindu.com/features/frida ... 587972.ece
"The Academy took the initiative by asking TN Rajarathinam Pillai to perform. The first such concert was at the Academy’s venue at General Patters Road. The crowd was so thick that vehicles could not pass through. A rickshaw gave up the attempt midway and its passenger, a blind old woman, was asked to alight. She then felt her way through the crowd and made it to the venue. Once there, everyone recognised her and helped her to sit near the dais. As the performance ended, she clambered on to stage and enveloped TNR in an embrace. The curtains came down on the two legends holding on to each other, for the old woman was none other than Veena Dhanam. Can such magic return?"
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SrinathK
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#8 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by SrinathK » 08 Nov 2018, 12:38

If you don't mind, maybe the title could be edited to highlight the special challenges faced by the Nagaswaram and Thavil artistes.

Personally it was surprising to read that most of these musicians have to take up the instrument because of poverty and lack of other options. This is a far cry from the rest of the CM scene, where reasonably well to do or affluent families send their (well educated) children to learn music, which for a small percentage of them becomes a full time career down the road. Because of this, aspirants can't even afford good instruments, which cost a bomb in comparison to student violins or flutes or mridangams. A good nagaswaram costs nearly 20k today for those who are wondering. The costliest flute I've ever bought was worth 3.5k.

While Carnatic Music migrated to the city, the nagaswaram is still stuck in the previous century, with only well funded temples capable of hosting regular concerts. Outside that playing for marriages, etc. is their only other alternative.

Their financial status also means it is impossible for them to migrate to the city. This also means that lack of education and exposure doesn't give them the skills required to work their way to the top in today's CM world. In fact, in the congested urban jungle, even practicing instruments like the nagaswaram and the thavil is virtually impossible given the loudness -- maybe the temples should throw open their mandapams. And then we wonder why there are so many apaswarams in most nagaswaram performances.

So in the city, no one wants to puruse the nagaswaram as an option. Yes, we can talk of the fact that Brahmins do not show an inclination to pursue this instrument as such and that cultural differences are there, but this is not nearly as big a problem as poverty and lack of support.

The stress and poverty also drives many of them to alcohol and the like, which does not help their future or their already precarious finances in the least bit either.

Apart from this, I have also read of health issues arising from the demands of playing this instrument (it needs a lot of power), and we do not get proper medical advice on wind instrument playing techniques like we do for voice culture - and this is not just associated with the nagaswaram. Oboists (players of the oboe), trumpet players and bassonists also face similar health issues. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/948374.stm

So hats off to Parivadini (and Raga Sudha) for the work they're doing, raising awareness, providing opportunities and supporting talented youngsters in this regard!
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shankarank
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#9 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by shankarank » 08 Nov 2018, 19:43

SrinathK wrote:
08 Nov 2018, 12:38
The costliest flute I've ever bought was worth 3.5k.
Many professional artistes chose one or two from a huge collection brought to their house. So that "good" one cost a lot more to make for somebody, as others were discarded, unless the discarded were peddled elsewhere down the quality stream.

And all the personal habitual issues plagued the so called mainstream CM as much as the artistes, but the costs of it may be different due to societal reactions to each! There were some clean disciplined ones there as they were here!

And we don't blame the real culprits, the Dravidian movement, which demoralized entire society of people, because we buy into these "civilizing" narratives of outsiders and use the same tools to dissect these things! A simple systemic view would out that in a jiffy!

It is better to use the Science one learns from outsiders than their sociology and humanology!
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RSR
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#10 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by RSR » 08 Nov 2018, 19:51

While on the topic of Ngaswaram, this short story by Janakiraman , may be of interest. ( it is in tamil, however)
http://www.valaitamil.com/news_1833.html

rendered here by Smt.DKP ( santhamukega...saama) mentioned in the above story.
translation by Sr.V.Govindan
https://sites.google.com/site/dkpattamm ... aama-ragam
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shankarank
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#11 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by shankarank » 08 Nov 2018, 21:16

Why can't there be a concert almost everyday when artistes are available here?

http://www.thanjavurpalacedevasthanam.t ... emple.html

Can somebody file a writ petition to force HR&CE to fork out money? Is there dearth of lawyers in mylapore?? :evil:

They should play continuously through out the day.

If film shooting can be given permission, Agamic rules can be bent as well! All afternoon till dusk we will require one or the other vidvan to play all year! So any tourist visiting at anytime gets to hear a section of it!

It is an archaelogical site - a study of dead civilization? ! Somehow dancers seem to be have succeeded in taking events there! Why not nAgasvaram?

An old timer shared with me his opinion - inside a sabha hall, they will plug the instrument and play - not ideal!
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uday_shankar
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#12 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by uday_shankar » 09 Nov 2018, 14:48

SrinathK wrote:
08 Nov 2018, 12:38
In fact, in the congested urban jungle, even practicing instruments like the nagaswaram and the thavil is virtually impossible given the loudness
That problem can be solved for nagasvaram by a suitably designed mute that fits the flare... a small funnel like design should work... actually the shuddha madhyamam, which nagasvaram players so often get wrong, i.e., sharper, will become easier too when using the mute. For brass instruments in the west, it is common to use such mutes for practice. Nowadays there are electronic mutes too. Thavil is a different story.
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SrinathK
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#13 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by SrinathK » 09 Nov 2018, 15:12

uday_shankar wrote:
09 Nov 2018, 14:48
SrinathK wrote:
08 Nov 2018, 12:38
In fact, in the congested urban jungle, even practicing instruments like the nagaswaram and the thavil is virtually impossible given the loudness
That problem can be solved for nagasvaram by a suitably designed mute that fits the flare... a small funnel like design should work... actually the shuddha madhyamam, which nagasvaram players so often get wrong, i.e., sharper, will become easier too when using the mute. For brass instruments in the west, it is common to use such mutes for practice. Nowadays there are electronic mutes too. Thavil is a different story.
What is with that shuddha madhyamam in the bari nagasawaram anyway? Is the hole drilled in the wrong place and no one tried putting it where it really ought to go, or is it a wolf note or some tradeoff made to play prati madhyamam more easily or for the fingers to reach? Or is it that there is no dedicated shuddha madhyama hole as such?

I haven't seen good flutes with such issues, so why the bari? BTW the bari does sounds less loud than the high pitched shrill timiri nagaswaram, but so many people make far more wrong notes on it. Is it because it needs more power?
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uday_shankar
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#14 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by uday_shankar » 10 Nov 2018, 19:31

Srinath
The long answer is very complex and perhaps some day when I get time I can investigate thoroughly and write from an acoustic viewpoint (requires a thesis of sorts) ... the flute analogy does not work completely for nagasvaram because any hole position has a range of notes depending on the blow control at the seevali. So for example, if two holes closed is the nominal Sa, it can produce a range of notes from N3 to R1 or even wider. Similarly, all holes open can produce a range from below G2 to M1. Apart from that, it can produce an overblown sound... In Indian flute, we use overblow for the octave (i.e, two holes is Sa, and with a stiffer blow mel Sa). Same with nagasvaram but with much more control by the lips and blow at the seevali. Unlike flute, nagasvaram is a closed pipe (broadly no even harmonics) but it is further complicated by conical bore. As regards the M1 (all holes or six holes closed depending on the sthayi), if you blow too softly you will break the standing wave and get a gurgle, and if you blow too hard you will sound too sharp. There are some additional holes further down which could be closed with wax (i.e., not in realtime but a sort of "calibration" of the nagasvaram) to correct this but in the end it is the sensitivity and control of the player. I will think and investigate more about the M1 issue and respond at a later time.
Last edited by uday_shankar on 10 Nov 2018, 20:15, edited 1 time in total.
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uday_shankar
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#15 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by uday_shankar » 10 Nov 2018, 19:41

SrinathK wrote:
09 Nov 2018, 15:12
I haven't seen good flutes with such issues, so why the bari? BTW the bari does sounds less loud than the high pitched shrill timiri nagaswaram, but so many people make far more wrong notes on it. Is it because it needs more power?
In general it is easier to give a perception of "shruti shuddham" with lower shrutis (as well as tuning) because the beat frequencies of non unison are lower. But the irony is that it can also be a good negative feedback mechanism. Women singers generally give a better sense of shruti shuddham than stalwart male singers. But take the flute, it is much easier to give a perception of shruti shuddham on a D# or E bhansuri than a Carnatic flute at G#. The mel Sa in the G# flute can easily go wrong even for stalwarts. That's why sensitive folks like flute Mali played minimally in the upper octave. Also, he consciously modulated the blow, drew away from the mike, to pinpoint the mel Sa on that high pitched flute. Brindamma modulated her mel Sa and above instinctively, in order, among other things, to blend in with the shruti perfectly. Certain male singers and some rasikas in CM have never understood that singing is a feedback mechanism. Somehow they think feed forward works.
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RasikasModerator2
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#16 Re: The fate of the nagaswaram - Twin worlds in Classical Music

Post by RasikasModerator2 » 12 Nov 2018, 09:38

Title has been edited as per request.
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