I am herewith sending you an overview of an Alaapana interest group. Please share it with other in your group and network of friends.
Creativity in Alaapana
The scope of the interest group is not limited to alaapana only, but expanding the role and place of alaapana and similar musical traditions in Indian music discipline. A very important advantage of alaapana is that it is not language specific, encourages individual creativity, group creativity, and has already the tradition of being impromptu in its core. I also hope and envision that this interest group will bring unity among music enthusiasts of all language affiliations, and musical traditions. I have no desire to manage or lead this group, except for the initial and ongoing ideas, so that the group will give equal opportunity for good organizers to run the meetings of the group.
Here are my initial thoughts in creative techniques for alaapana. Please feel free to add, supplement or come up with your derivatives of the ideas presented here.
This is not meant to be a distinct group from existing successful groups. I do not believe in committees, memberships and fees. It will be a group of friends with interest in Indian music. This is also an outlet for creativity for artists, and music enthusiasts.
The interest group is a group to be equally participated by all of you. It is most importantly a participatory group with common interests and passion in music. I envision the group to be of value to music connoisseurs, musicians, beginners, and just listeners. Please send me your ideas and comments. I will be glad to explain by phone or e-mail, and later in a meeting. Let us also plan on meeting in about a week or two.
The creative ideas apply to routine alaapana, thillana, raagam - taaLam - pallavi, and any other mixed combinations. In the beginning it will be brainstorming sessions for the team, but we will develop, as a group, presentation pieces or compositions for specific performances on the stage. These compositions may be based on themes, and will try to judiciously combine creative ideas and presentations, as well as happy combinations of vocal, instrumental, Karnatak and Hindustani styles. As further derivatives and variations, we may try Rabindra Sangeet style and other ethnic styles. These styles give their special treatment to Indian music.
The raagas or raaga combinations chosen can be presented in:
· Karanataka style, exclusively
· Hindustani style, exclusively
· Different sub groups in a combination of both styles.
We can try a variety of sub groups on the stage. The sub-grouping may be done based on:
· Men, women and youngsters
· Combination of men, women and youngsters
· Vocal and instrumental
· All violin, all flute, all vocal …..
· Karnatak and Hindustani
· Group of musicians (vocalists and instrumentalists) performing group alaapana.
· Sub groups or individuals presenting different and distinct aspects of the raaga
· Sub groups or individuals presenting different and distinct aspects of the mood intonations (Navarasas) of the raaga. Even though the navarasas are very well known in the Indian literary and theatre traditions, it has not been effectively, extensively and exhaustively employed in Indian classical music, and especially in the alaapana. The nine categories of rasas in navarasa may need detailing, and further categorizing in alaapana, to get the privilege of the various / diverse possibilities in mood intonations. Examples of sub-rasas or uparasas are praising, worship, kindness, laughter, flirting, quarreling, convincing, requesting, anger, being scared, scaring, sorrow (of many types), cry, happiness (of many types), ridiculing, caution, doubtfulness, confusion, pleading, playfulness, admiration, thoughtfulness. All of you as musicians and enthusiasts can try / experiment on expounding the raaga alaapana to invoke all of these, and many more uparasas. We have many singers and instrumentalists in the Indian music world who have successfully done this in classical, light classical, devotional and film music, except that most of it has been in songs with lyrics. There is a lot of unexplored scope in alaapana and other presentations of music that do not depend on lyrics. Even in other musical traditions, this has been successfully done, even though the concept is not identical to alaapana, and may not conform to raaga concepts. For example, blues music extensively has songs that fall into the confines of Bheema Palas (Hindustani) or Abheri (Karnatak) ragas. Many of you may have heard the music of the legends of blues like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. However, blues vocal depends on the lyrics.
· Sub groups or individuals presenting different, but closely related raagas - The Example: Maalakauns and Chandrakauns; Simhendra Madhyama and Shanmukha Priya; Mohana (Bhoop) and Shuddha Saaveri (Durga); Kalyani and Yaman Kalyani; Lalitha and Vasantha
· Sub groups or individuals presenting at different paces (kaalas like Vilambit, Madhyam and Theevra)
· Sub groups or individuals presenting different and distinct impromptu techniques. I have some ideas that I can only demonstrate, as it is difficult to explain here.
· Individual singers / instrumentalists doing dialogue type interchange of the alaapana pieces. For example, one could be doing aarohana (ascending loci) of the raga, while other doing the avarohana (descending loci).
· Handoff pivoted on specific swara(s) from one musician (vocalist or instrumentalist) to another, or subgroup to subgroup. For example, the handoff swara pivot could be a Jeeva swara, or hraswa swara or even the aadhaara shruthi (the Shadja or Sa).
· Handoff pivoted on specific maatra of the taala from one musician (vocalist or instrumentalist) to another, or subgroup to subgroup. For example, the handoff maatra pivot could be the beginning of the taala, or at the beginning of a significant / major component of the taala or even signified by a distinct percussion sound. Examples of the distinct percussion sound are a bell, cymbal (the hand instrument used in bhajans and classical dance which is played like a hand clap), just a hand clap, two sticks played against each other (as in Bharata Natyam), along with a visible action by the singers. The music group on the stage can really get creative in the handoff techniques.
· Show to the audience how jeeva swara silencing can affect the raaga. I call it “ghosted jeeva swara”. Even though I have not yet tried this in front of a musician or enthusiast, I strongly feel that this ghosting technique may create interesting and novel effects.
· Shruthi experiments developed by me. Please feel free to contact me anytime to get a copy of my research paper on this topic.
Virtual Think Tank