Music from Madras

The tradition of Carntic music has vastly changed in the last two centuries. Its roots can be found in the temples of nineteenth century southern India, however it became increasingly independent of its exclusion from the public at the start of the twentieth century, and is today available to paying audiences, radio broadcast and in recording.


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"Ravikiran is no ordinary artist. He was a child prodigy who demonstrated the ability to recognize hundreds of ragas (scales or modes in western music) of the Carnatic music tradition. Today he is an acknowledged master of Carnatic music, and a musician of musicians. His knowledge of this great classical art form is very deep and probably far exceeds that of a contemporary musician of his age. The instrument he uses is Chitraveena (I think it is more than 2000 years old), which is like the south Indian veena but is fretless and played like a slide guitar. Unlike the Sitar, one of the drawbacks of this instrument is that its output voulme is not very high and hence requires extremely careful recording to capture. I have personally experienced the beautiful sound this instrument produces in a closed room. Its capability to produce microtonal inflections characteristic of Carnatic music is unsurpassed by any other instrument. Thus while the instrument is tonally very rich and sweet, its low volume requires a lot of care in recording to capture the nuances. Fortunately, this particular release by Nimbus records has done a remarkable job in this aspect. I should mention the beautiful tone of the sound of mridangam. It feels like you are sitting in an auditorium with nice acoustics. Great job. Another great aspect of this album is the unusual detail in documentation regarding the ragas and talas of each piece in the CD boklet. The complete up- and down-note sequence (arohanam and avarohanam) for each raga are given in the western alphabet notation. Furthermore the CD tracks are carefully divided to delineate the various stages of each musical piece with very clear explanation of each part. This will introduce you to the musical form if you werent familiar with it."-Anonymous

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