european musical instruments in India

Max Langley mlangley at
Sat Mar 29 21:10:25 UTC 1997

Dear Mr. Pichumani,

Everyone is entitled to his opinion. I confess that I generally find
Carnatic music less interesting technically and musically than Hindustani,
but my standpoint is that of a lifelong string player at a very competent
level, and I am very fond of Indian music--a former student of Ali Akbar
Khan. It is still considered good manners, I believe, to append honorifics
to a well-respected and beloved person's name....or am I out of the loop?

Max Langley

> From: Srinivasan Pichumani <srini at>
> To: Members of the list <indology at>
> Subject: Re: european musical instruments in India
> Date: Friday, March 28, 1997 11:13 AM
> 	Akbar College. Pandit Subramaniam, who I have had the happy opportunity
> 	experience in concert, is obviously well-trained in a Western style and
> 	very able in every technical and musical way--the method of bowing
> 	tells the tale. For him, such a manner of playing represents an
> 	of Western training to Indian performance ways. That is not true for
> 	if not most of, Indian violinists. Indian-trained violinists tend to
> 	a wild and raspy wound, not vocal at all, and rather like home-grown
> 	fiddlers everywhere, even if they are in a formidable possession of
> 	musical knowledge. 
> What a <prefix>load of nonsense !  You *obviously* have little 
> exposure to the breadth/depth of Carnatic "violinistry" and the 
> requirements, expectations of Carnatic music.  
> 	It is not really comfortable to play the violin sitting down, if
> 	were the determining factor--which in the case of Indian violin-playing

> 	it is not. There is not a feeling of rightness with the instrument that

> 	is the case with sarod, sitar, and probably srangi. I cannot speak for 
> 	the vina. I sense that Indian instrumental playing is
> 	related to the lap as a center of weight and balance. The violin was
> 	designed with that orientation in mind. Pandit Subramanian, of course,
> 	plays well and has adapted his exquisite musicianship to the tradional
> 	requirements of Carnatic music....Max Langley
> The give-away in your entire article is that you hold "Pandit" 
> Subramaniam as a yardstick for Carnatic "violinistry" and Carnatic 
> music.  L.Subramaniam may sound wonderful to you from your specific 
> perspective of looking for Western violin technique from Indian 
> violinists... but he is a very average Carnatic musician, who
> nevertheless has had a lot of exposure in the West.  And as regards 
> violin technique needed for Carnatic music, many others are/were
> better.
> -Srini.

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