INDIAN MUSIC FORUMS

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raanan

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hi,

I have a strange question about the large variety of indian musical instruments.

It seems to me that the instruments are awarded or created according to a certain social station, like the difference between north and south indian instruments.

can anyone confirm or deny this and maybe supply a list or explination of this?

i'm curious.

for instance, the way i see it so far about the drums is:

tabla is an upper class instrument for wealthy people
pakhawaj also as an upper class instrument for older / wiser wealthy people.
khol as an upper class instrument for worship
sitar / surbahar as an upper class instrument for wealthy people.
rudra veena / veena as an upper class instrument for older / wiser wealthy people.
---

the above instruments seem to be of fine and decorated construction, and from what i've seen by tabla gharana it seems tablas of finer quality are awarded as practise / training progress.

I've also seen that not being involved in this that I may buy tabla drums at high cost that are meant to be awarded though they have some defects, though perhaps my playing is that.

any ideas?

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raanan

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excuse my replying to myself though here is a link that confirms my question, any comments?

http://www.public.asu.edu/~jwang2/portfolio/myworks/paper1.htm
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lakshman

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I would say that Indian classical music in general is something almost exclusive to the upper classes, for they can afford to support it, go to see concerts or buy recordings, or spend the money for the instruments. Also if one comes from an upper class family, there is no doubt there will be more of an opportunity to learn due to the vast amount of time it takes.
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raanan

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fortunately its not as orthodox as i thought. :] i have a reasonable collection of cds from various classical artists. indeed theyre mostly upper class from the north.

i had a mp3 collection of ravi kiran, that music was different from the rest of the music i had, do you have any idea where i can find carnactic recordings? difficult to find those on cd.
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coyootie

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plenty of living evidence and written records show that indeed music has been a caste bound art for generations- also with exceptions. for example, sarangi players were formerly mostly poorer muslims who accompanied "dancing girls" and were associated with low life generally, assumed to be opium sots because of the pain associated with the fingering technique etc. in Southern India nadaswaram players and their drummers, although almost entirely employed for temple gigs and weddings, were mostly very low castes. Instrument makers are considered to be carpenters ( or drum skin makers, merely butchers).
A statement that ICM is mostly 'exclusive to upper classes' shows almost no understanding of the realities of the continuing problems with caste discrimination in India. If you investigate the family backgrounds of Hindusthani musicians you will see that until quite recently most of the muscians were descended from low and often despised classes.
it is only post- British raj that music and dance has gained the level of 'respectability' it has now. In South India, classical dance was formerly the province of devadasis ( look it up) and gained social respectability through the heroic and often nationalistic inspiration of mostly brahmin families. South India in general has usually shown a lot of respect for musicians, many of whom were from families of brahmin scholars- which had nothing to do with wealth, just musicianship. again this had a lot to do with particular instruments-nadaswarams, being shawms with spit dripping out of them , were not accorded the same dignity as Saraswati's personal veena.
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raanan

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now thats some heavy social history. thanks for that point of view. :]

my intention for starting this thread was to discover if instruments of high quality were awarded or simply bought.

especially the string instruments are complex and artful so i figured their quality with regards to volume, harmony etc was based on the connection between musicians, teachers and manufacturers. I was wondering how orthodox it may be.

western instruments are 'what you see is what you get' though not the same for indian instruments its pretty much 'if you dont know you dont get'
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panchamkauns

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Quote:
Originally Posted by "raanan"
I had a mp3 collection of Ravikiran, that music was different from the rest of the music I had, do you have any idea where I can find Carnactic recordings? Difficult to find those on CD.
A good place to find Carnatic albums (and North Indian as well) is actually emusic.com. They’re a site selling MP3s according to a subscription model, where they charge you a certain amount per month and you get to download a certain number of tracks. It’s a lot cheaper than buying CDs, I think, and they have a hugely surprisingly well-stocked Indian classical category.

When you’re new to the music, Carnatic singers may sound mighty strange. Their instrumental music is mostly violin; veena is much less common. I always recommend to new listeners a veena player called Balachander ... his playing is so all-out eccentric that it’s sure to be fun to listen to even if you don’t understand one iota

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musicslug

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I'll only address your questions about 'awarding' instruments. I'm guessing that you might have this idea because it is traditional that one's guru is very involved with getting an instrument. This tradition has made it more likely that a deserving student will get a good instrument. If someone (westerners especially!) buys something without a guru, there's unfortunately a high likelihood that the shop will sell him something that is either of poor quality or unfinished. With a guru involved, the shop will know they have to sell something decent, plus the guru will often have the shop do more work. This "it's not done yet" process can take more than one attempt before the guru is satisfied.

That being said, if you don't know how to identify a good instrument, it's easy enough to get something of high quality if you bring someone knowledgeable with you to the shop - even if it isn't your guru (although, in a sense, this person is acting like a guru...).

And sometimes people just get lucky, walking into a shop where there's a high-quality instrument just sitting there, for whatever reason (read Tony Karasek's story of how he got his rudra veena) - I got a beautiful sounding tabla that way.
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