european musical instruments in India
mlangley at brinet.com
Wed Mar 26 16:49:02 EST 1997
One last comment on Indian violin-playing:
It is true that playing with the scroll held in the foot facilitates
playing only if the violinist does not use a chin-rest. In a sense, some
violinists pride themselves on using neither chin-rest nor shoulder-pad. I
confess that comfort this seems more anatomical than technical. But a
shorter fingerboard was in use before ca. 1830, and chin-rests date to the
late 19th and early 20th century. The shorter fingerboard, in fact, suits
the easier technical requirements of Indian music admirably. I would not
be surprised if some Indian violinists did not use the older--and
shorter--string length. The ancestor of both the violin and sarod was the
rebab, an Afghani one-stringed fiddle.
> From: David R. Israel <davidi at wizard.net>
> To: Members of the list <indology at liverpool.ac.uk>
> Subject: Re: european musical instruments in India
> Date: Wednesday, March 26, 1997 1:04 PM
> Chandan Raghava Narayan wrote:
> >Isn't it curious that the violin in Indian classical music
> >(Carnatic) is played with the scroll of the instrument resting on the
> >arch of the foot? I find this interesting because I was always taught
> >never to touch items associated with "Sarasvati", ie. books, paper,
> >and musical instruments, with your feet. The instrument can just as
> >well be played in the Western "upright" manner... Might this have to
> >do with it being a Western instrument? -chandan
> and this morning, Das Menon replied --
> > This may have more to do with the fact that 'gamakas', an essential
> > part of Carnatic music, is difficult to play with the violin held in
> > Western style.
> That explanation seems to echo what the well-known Karnatic violinist
> L. Subramaniam told me when I interviewed him (for a small newspaper,
> abt. a dozen or more years ago). He remarked something to the effect
> that when the violin scroll is rested on the foot, it makes the whole
> playing process looser & freer (the instrument thus being "anchored"
> at both ends) -- I guess there's more freedom both for neck & arm.
> In terms of the question of the instrument & the foot, a comparative
> case is that of sitar in Hindustani music -- the base of which which
> is traditionally rested on (I believe) the sole of the right foot.
> Still, I don't know if these cases of practice quite solve the
> mystery raised by Chandan -- and one imagines there must have been
> some manner or route of justifying the seeming gesture of disrespect
> -- whether in case of violin or sitar.
> Another note about the violin in Indian music. L. Subramaniam
> alluded to me some of the Tanjore court history discussed in some
> detail by S. Palaniappan. But he *also* refered to the belief
> (probably a prevalent belief) that the violin has ancient antecedents
> in the so-called *ravana* [or some cognate word?] -- a legendary
> bowed-string instrument associated w/ the Lord of Lankha, of epic
> fame (&/or infamy). The general sense of this reference by the
> musician seemed to be a suggestion that South Indians were
> predisposed to favor such a bowed string instrument as the violin due
> to this ancient history -- and/or, a sense that it's something they'd
> seen before that had thus been re-introduced by the Dutch folks.
> p.s.: I just joined your august ranks a day or two ago -- expecting
> mainly to sit back & soak up the scholarship [I not being any sort of
> proper Indological academic] -- but so happens this particular
> thread touched on familiar issues.
> > david raphael israel <
> >> washington d.c. <<
> | davidi at wizard.net (home)
> | disrael at skgf.com (office)
> | thy centuries follow each other
> | perfecting a small wild flower
> | (Tagore)
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