Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Musical universals

There was concert tonight, as Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian and two accompanying musicians came to Jyväskylä on their tour of Finland. Dr. Subramanian is a famous vina-player (vina or veena in the picture) and a highly regarded teacher.

They play South-Indian classical (Carnatic) music, which is as intricate and complex as any classical music can be. Western classical musicians practice for a lifetime, Indian classical musicians train for generations. Dr Subramanian, for example, is a vina-player in the 9th generation.

I always listen to Indian classical music with somewhat mixed feelings. There's the feeling of being outside, a feeling that's in stark contrast with how I feel with "Western" classical music, where I'm an insider. A symphony concert is very familiar to me, I'm "in" in all the jokes, tricks, scripts, and know all the nuances and can tell if someone's excellent or only very good. In Indian classical music (or Chinese, Japanese etc...) I can hear and appreciate the mastery of the players and the complexity and subtlety in the music, but I don't really know what it "means".

On the other hand, music is universal in the way it moves you, enchants you, teleports you from this time and place to somewhere else. And there tonight's performance just worked like magic.

(Pic: vina or veena, by Ingsoc)

No comments: