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Xianzai

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello, everyone.

I am a student from Sweden, Europe, who is currently finishing my degree in Musicology and performance, and will soon begin my MA. I play mostly popular music; by that I mean jazz, rock, country, blues, fusion, etc. I have had a love for Indian classical music for some years now, and would love to do a semester abroad in India during my master degree, if that could be done.

So, I am asking you, dear community, if you have any good recommendations on a university that has an exchange program for a student with a music MA! My knowledge of raags and ICM is not too great; I am mostly an avid listener but I would love to learn more - indepth. But I think that having a popular music MA would be the best to exchange to.

I tried using Google, but found really nothing. University of Delhi had a MA in Music, would that be a good choice?

If anyone can help me out, I really, really appreciate it. Thank you all!

Sincerly,
Xianzai
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musicslug

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Reply with quote  #2 
you might try Banaras Hindu University. definitely a more interesting place to live than Delhi. it should be said though: most serious students of Indian music learn from a guru in a one-on-one context, not a classroom. teaching Indian music to a group with varied skill levels, backgrounds, etc. doesn't work. I'm sure there are exceptions, but that's the general rule.
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arnabsarod

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Reply with quote  #3 
BHU was decent till about 10 years ago. However, with the demise of Dr. Premlata Sharma and retirement of Dr. N Rajam, both the theory and performance aspects have been weakened considerably. Among the current faculty, Prof. Ritwick Sanyal is a respectable Dhrupad performer and teacher.

Delhi university has been ghastly for decades - nothing happening there since Ustad Asad Ali Khan quit. There are no credible research programs, and I don't believe any faculty member has published anything in a respectable peer-reviewed journal in recent history.

Music PhDs in India are a joke. People write up some hagiography of a dead (or living) musician, throw in some random musical notations, and print it without bothering to even proofread them. There is almost never any concrete research question, and most certainly no methodology or rigour of analysis.

Also, the intended audience of an MA in music comprise two categories of people. (1) Aspiring performers who want a "fall back option" (a bogus lectureship of the above mentioned sort) in case they don't "make it", and (2) Women whose parents have long decided that they are going to be career housewives. The fine arts are viewed as "soft knowledge" and lack of critical faculties is viewed as a positive asset by the marriage market which largely favours women who are more amenable to "domestication" over those who can think for themselves.

My recommendation: Do yourself a favour and don't come to India for the "semester abroad" thing. Come over and hang out with musicians in Bombay (Mumbai), Calcutta and Madras (Chennai), and keep a safe distance in order to avoid being sucked into any one of the hundreds of personality cults that infect/infest ICM. You'll have fun.

Cheers,

Arnab
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Xianzai

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hah! Thanks for sharing your opinions so freely, Arnab, I admire that.

I have sent several e-mails to both these institutes and the University of Mumbai, but I haven't gotten any answer if such an exchange is possible. I am thinking just an exchange for one semester, meaning from august to december, basically. I am taking my MA here in Sweden, not in India. And to be honest, during one semester, you barely get the chance to get aquainted with any personalities at all, so I am not worried about that. This sort of exchange is basically the only way I can spend a prolonged time in India to focus on ICM; I cannot take a break and just go over there. I would prefer to have some sort of network that you would get at a university. But since no-one can be bothered answering my mails, it seems that this sort of exchange is not as popular? Is there a reason for this? I would have thought it in everyones best interest that more people can come and experience the country and the culture. During my stay I could try to contact sarod-teachers from outside the uni I would eventually stay at.

Do you live in Mumbai, Arnab? Is there any university you think would be suitable for an exchange student? It doesn't have to be ICM per say, it could just aswell be popular music/jazz or any of the sort. I just think it would be a fantastic experience to live there for a semester, absorbing all the information about the music and culture I can.

It's such a shame that the education of music in India is regarded as such a weak field, considering the classical music it holds is such a magnificent national treasure.
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nigama

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Posts: 70
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Xianzai,

I believe Sandesha is one of the institutes that’s definitely writes back to you or else phone them. They teach indian and western music and english and claim low fees. There are others in Tamil Nadu as well. Check their website
Keep the joy of the loving God in your hearts and share this joy with all you meet. You will love each other as God loves each one of you. (Bharat Ratna Mother Teresa)
http://www.sandesha.org/

If I were in your position I would probably venture to study music with the Apsara Royal Balett in Cambodia. They were persecuted till near exstinction and it should be a refreshing experience to preserve their music. University of Heidelberg has projects in this area.
http://dfg-science-tv.de/de/projekte/tempelpflege
http://www.canbypublications.com/siemreap/srothersr.htm

reg
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arnabsarod

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Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #6 
Hey Xianzai,

Yes, I live in Bombay. Until recently, I was employed at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (as sarod teacher and administrator), which does accept visiting overseas students for short-term learning exercises. But since I have quit, the whole thing is a one-man show and centers on sarangi maestro Dhruba Ghosh's availability (or otherwise) to teach. Dhruba-ji is always busy and lives two parallel lives shuttling between Amsterdam/Brussels and Bombay. The only other decent teacher there is a tabla player who is already inundated with work. The course is very unstructured, and it is more than likely that you'll end up learning nothing. Hostel facilities are available but priced at a ridiculous (by Indian standards) 25 EUR/night without food.

More importantly, the above arrangement is not accredited and you will not receive credit at your current school, unless they accept any piece of signed and stamped paper as credit equivalent.

Why are exchange programs not popular? I think this is so because Indian students who are enrolled at MA programs in Music cannot afford to spend a semester abroad. Don't get me wrong. There are lots of wealthy people here, but those kids who enroll in undergrad and masters programs in Music are usually from lower middle-class, provincial backgrounds. Those from more privileged sections tend to study abroad or opt for specialized training and aim directly for the big stage.

International musical exchange at the uni level would surely bring good revenue to India, but I don't know why it does not exist. It would also open the eyes and ears of Indian musicians to worlds of sophisticated musics that lie beyond our shores. There is a bit of a "music tourism industry" that centers around Varanasi and Calcutta, albeit in the informal sector of the economy. For sure, Calcutta is more evolved than Varanasi in actual musical terms. There are also more sarod teachers there. For technique, I would recommend Prof. Debasish Bhattacharjee at Rabindra Bharati University.

Did I hear you mention Sarod teachers? Well, that is a can of worms. Each sarod player you encounter is going to give you an initiation lecture claiming their lineage of gurus is the most ancient (I don't know how antiquity is even relevant). They will also tell you that the instrument model they play (both kinds are pretty primitive by standards of Western luthiery) is the most advanced. Finally, they also have this habit of questioning even the basic technical competence of a maestro who is not their own teacher or teacher's teacher. Why this is much more the case with sarod and sitar than any other discipline within ICM? I don't know.

I would have offered to help you with sarod, because I believe that I am in a position to offer a neutral, objective overview on how it works, using a "nuts and bolts" approach. However, I will spend the entire fall semester (2011) abroad, and in the spring of 2012, be on a sabbatical in Chennai. So, this is just general info. :-)

Cheers,

Arnab
p.s.: All info on HCM available in the public domain is opinion-based. I am just trying to give you realistic, practical info, also based on my experience. :-)
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tablatime

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Posts: 25
Reply with quote  #7 
since you mentioned druba ghosh, arnab, why not mention his family has a music college in mumbai run by his brother nayan ghosh? obviously a semester will not be enough time to learn an instrument,but you will have a greater appreciation of the music and what it takes to make a superior musician.
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arnabsarod

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Reply with quote  #8 
@tablatime:

Sorry. I should have mentioned Sangit Mahabharati, but while I have the highest regard for Nayanji as a musician, he, like his brother, is an extremely busy touring artiste. I've known students of his who make a beeline for his house as soon as he returns from a tour, only to find that he is either travel-worn, concertizing locally, or just plain busy catching up on admin work. Plus, the lack of structure and accreditation is also a problem with SMB. And yes, you are absolutely right that one cannot learn an instrument in one semester, but I can say from my experience as a student that the Seni-Shahjahanpur school of sarod is remarkable for the efficiency with which the basic skills are transferred from teacher to student, somewhat akin to the Suzuki method (which is why I recommended Prof. Bhattacharjee, who is the senior most disciple of Pandit Dasgupta).

Debasish-ji plays Raga Chhayanat:


My own take on Chhayanat:
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