SEARCH

An emerging hub of global music

Ramya Kannan
print   ·   T  T  
In tune with times: As more international bands perform in Chennai, the demand for formal courses in global music seems to go up in the city. A Korean instrumental troupe performs at The Hindu's November Fest in Chennai — Photo: R. Ravindran
In tune with times: As more international bands perform in Chennai, the demand for formal courses in global music seems to go up in the city. A Korean instrumental troupe performs at The Hindu's November Fest in Chennai — Photo: R. Ravindran

Even those who acknowledge Chennai's emerging cosmopolitan avatar are intrigued by the city's tight-fisted grip on its conservative, classical past. Every child in pigtails, or without, who goes to the best schools still has a ‘ paatu' (music) teacher coming home to teach the sa-pa-sa, the abc's of Carnatic music .

Now, it is equally likely that the pig-tailed one is learning to play the Australian didcheridoo, or African Bongo drums and even attempting Mozart on the cello - formally. In the den of Carnatic music, global music flourishes. The ‘paatu' teacher has an array of global musicians for company now, as finally, formal education in global music becomes a reality in Chennai. Over the last one-and-a half-years, at least four schools have begun offering formal classes in world music.

Tremendous awareness

The latest to join the flock is the Muthuswamy Subbulakshmi - MS Academy of Global Music started to foster and propagate Carnatic music and Global music. Its director M. Lalitha, of the Lalitha-Nandini violin duo, says. “There is now tremendous awareness on global music and various genres of music.” Even if Carnatic music remains the staple ‘ thayir sadam' of our population, there is increasingly an interest in learning different music genres, countries, and also in fusion. “Not every one gets a chance to go abroad and learn various genres of music. So we decided to provide an opportunity to those people. Initially, we plan to take the concept to schools and for those unable to come for classes, the Skype version is available online,” Ms. Lalitha added. Among their faculty are Nathan Davis, director, Jazz Studies, University of Pittsburgh; Kai Echardt, international bassist; J.S. Kofi Gbolonyo, specialist in African Music studies, Ghana, and Yoshitaka Terada, ethnomusicologist, Japan.

Less than a year old, the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM) is an international music college that offers a programme of contemporary jazz, rock and world music, its president, and guitarist R. Prasanna says.

With voice, guitar, piano, bass, drums and Indian percussion performance as its focus, SAM started its first six- month diploma certificate program in July last.

Long-felt need

It not only satisfies the long-felt need for a comprehensive contemporary music education in India but is also a great alternative to colleges in USA, Europe and elsewhere for musicians around the world, the people behind SAM say. The aim is to give students a multi-cultural musical vocabulary to prepare them for exciting careers in a broad spectrum of 21st century music.

Kanjira exponent Ganesh Kumar made an ambitious attempt last year, along with ghatam exponent T.H. Subhash Chandran, to expand the Sankara Music Academy to offer world music. “Things are going very well and shaping up at the Academy. We are working on gathering funds to create a whole array of professionals for world music at the Academy,” he said. His plan is to bring to Chennai two musicians from the US, John Wubbenhorst, Silver Flautist and Dave Pietroto, saxophonist, to conduct workshops on western harmony for students of global music. A.R. Rahman's K.M. Music Conservatory has been offering foundation programmes in western music, Hindustani music, and music technology for the last three years, says Selva Kumar, Board member.

The response has been tremendous and mainly youngsters sign up for the various programmes. Currently, a degree programme offered along with Middlesex University has turned out to be extremely popular with those who have passed their 12 {+t} {+h} examination, he says.

More In: TAMIL NADU | NATIONAL
The Hindu presents the all-new Young World

O
P
E
N

close

Recent Article in TAMIL NADU

Where to go to be safe? Where to earn our living? (Right) A building in downtown Colombo stands completely destroyed during riots.— PHOTOs: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The nightmare that ‘Black July’ conjures up

Though it’s five years since civil war ended, 69,000 Tamils continue to live as refugees »