For this musicologist and author, there are good reasons to believe that Carnatic music matters, perhaps more than ever and almost anywhere in the world. So why not perform and teach it in the service of better education for all, for ecological awareness or in order to promote mutual respect in spite of all our differences? And in the process, get “invigorated and better equipped to tackle the larger issues at hand”.
At the invitation of Christine Urand (Director, Rietberg Montessori School) Ludwig Pesch took the full assembly of teachers on a musical journey across South India: exploring a wealth of rhythmic and melodic motifs suitable for young learners while enabling parents, teachers and care-givers to enjoy music making themselves (even as “lay people”, musically speaking).
This event was also an occasion to explore and discuss the scope for actively participating in an intercultural dialogue, something the presenter has long been known for, while paying homage to Maria Montessori (*): be it as contributor to ISME World Conferences or in association with educational and cultural institutions across the entire spectrum: teacher training, kindergarten, schools, rehabilitation just as staff integration programmes; conservatoria and universities in several countries; and creative projects developed in association with the Goethe Institute and exhibition makers at internationally renowned museums.
Date: 1 March 2018. Events on similar lines have been developed in conjunction with Museum Rietberg (Zurich) on the occasion of exhibitions of rare Indian art (in collaboration with art education staff).
* From 1939 until 1947 Dr. Maria Montessori worked closely with Rukmini Devi, founder of Kalakshetra (est. in 1936 in Adyar/Madras, now part of Chennai), an institution established for the integration of India’s cultural heritage and learning. Kalakshetra stands for an integrated approach to education all realms education – social, economic, crafts and performing arts, being both inspired and guided by India’s first Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore whose pioneering concept for informal learning was first tested and further developed at Santiniketan (“abode of peace”).
These pioneering efforts remain as relevant today as in the early 20th century when Maria Montessori and her associates realized that true education is more than a tool for succeeding in life as an individual or member of one’s own society: it is the very key to world peace and social justice (see, for example, her 1932 “Peace and Education” lecture published by the International Bureau of Education, Geneva).
Die Musik des südlichen Indien birgt viele Geheimnisse, aber soviel sei hier schon verraten: ihre Vielfalt verdankt sie der Lebensfreude und Mobilität von Menschen aus vielen Epochen und Regionen. Und weil dort recht unterschiedliche Kulturen zusammenfliessen eignet sie sich ganz besonders zum spontanen, gemeinsamen Musizieren – auch ganz ohne Vorkenntnisse!
Dazu nimmt uns der in Chennai ausgebildete, in Amsterdam lebende Flötist und Musikpädagoge Ludwig Pesch mit auf eine musikalische Reise. Für seine “Vermittlung von Geist und Leben Indiens” wurden ihm gleich zwei Kulturpreise verliehen.
Reise- und Lernziele
Tiere schenken Töne (Karnataka)
Innehalten: vom Klang des Glücks (Andhra Pradesh)
Frische Farben, forsche Formen (Kerala)
Zahlen, die klingen und swingen (Tamil Nadu)
Wie bei uns haben regionale Traditionen viel zur gemeinschaftlichen Kultur Indiens beigetragen. Zugleich ist jeder einzelnen auch etwas Besonderes zu eigen. Facetten, die auch unser Leben und Lernen bereichern können, sind Thema dieser musikalischen Reise.
Dieses interkulturelle Programm wird den jeweiligen Altersgruppen und besonderen Möglichkeiten vor Ort angepasst. Es ist überall – bei gutem Wetter auch im Freien – ohne technischen Aufwand realisierbar. Zur aktiven Beteiligung genügend Hände und Stimme.
Zeitlicher Rahmen: die kurze Variante entspricht einer Unterrichtsstunde, die längere ist ein Workshop für Kinder mit Eltern (Museum- und Sonderpädagogik), für Schüler oder Erwachsene. Dabei steht eine fantasievolle Übertragung von Rhythmen und Melodien in Bewegung und Bild zentral. Auf Wunsch wird gemeinsam mit Lehrern bzw. Betreuern ein zum Lehrplan, einem bestimmten Anlass oder einer Ausstellung passendes Programm zusammengestellt.
Die ganztägige Reise klingt vorzugsweise mit einer gemeinsamen Darbietung für Angehörige aus.
Kosten: nach Absprache – Honorar und Reisekostenerstattung mit Unterkunft gemäß ortsüblichen Standards.
“The many dimensions of the musical persona of Berlin-based Manickam Yogeswaran of Sri Lankan origin are not easy to fathom just from hearing him sing at one recital. […]
However, a conversation over coffee at Chamiers, days after a performance for Tamil Isai Sangam at Raja Annamalai Mandram, gave a glimpse of the different facets of the disciple of T.V. Gopalakrishnan and his exposure to Hollywood. […]
Yogeswaran’s forays into western classical ensembles, and his key role in global music forums for nearly three decades is a career graph, perhaps, typical of the wider scene in the performing arts these days. At the same time, it is the emotional need to stay anchored to the cultural milieu of one’s roots that probably explains Yogeswaran’s crucial engagement with Carnatic music. […] The challenge now, he says, is to nudge current generation of South Asians from a false sense of security about the future of this traditional art form. The conveniences afforded by technology, in terms of access to the treasure trove of recordings of great masters, ought not to breed complacency in the search for creativity, he argues. The key lies in continued reliance on the rigours of relentless individual ‘sadhana,’ a hallmark of classical music.”
Whatever we understand and enjoy in human products instantly becomes ours, wherever they might have their origin – Rabindranath Tagore*
During this presentation, musical figures from several distinct traditions were explored in a practice-oriented manner. The figures selected are appealing beyond South Asia where they originated many centuries ago and continue to play a key role in classical and applied music.
Our shared goal was to enable young and old to collaborate in a memorable learning process that blends seemlessly into any chosen subject, academic and otherwise.
The criteria for selecting a particular figure were (1) its flexibility as for combining it with another subject, for instance mathematics, geography or history; (2) its appeal going by prior experience with learners from different age groups; and (3) its scope for variation, movement, visualisation and analysis in accordance with learners’ specific needs and abilities.
As part of integrated music education, Indian music enables even complete strangers to share a useful learning process. This calls for a natural and playful approach to melody, rhythm, hand signs and body movement. In this manner we are prepared to include newcomers – children and adults lacking a common language – to instantly participate in music.
Indian music is valued for fostering memory, analytical thinking, concentration, and cooperation among peers. Its basic concepts are exhilarating and liberating whether or not there is scope for studying Indian culture in its own right. This is a boon in circumstances where verbal or written instructions fail to engage learners. Rather than resigning in the face of such formidable challenges, educators are free to experiment and spread solidarity through instant inclusion – the essential joy of “creating” music oneself. This aspect addresses a common fear among learners, namely to be left behind (again!), be it in music or other subjects – a fear that is all too often justified in competitive modern society.
To help educators to overcome such fears, we build lessons around simple figures that bind tunes, rhythms and movements together into a rounded whole. Some of these may appear familiar enough to “break the ice” if needed; and others are so fresh and mind-boggling as to trigger further experimentation among peers in informal settings – anywhere and anytime. For this to happen, we dispense with technical resources of any kind.
Adaptation is the key to rapidly changing learning scenarios wherein cultural stereotyping, a known stumbling block for educators all over the world, must be overcome. This is easily achieved by integrating Indian music into discussions of academic concepts, or by letting its rhythms enrich social and outdoor activities. Such activities are by definition location specific and all-inclusive.
Educators from Canada, Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Singapore and Switzerland were among the eleven participants in this one-hour session. They explored a time proven method suited to the needs of a wide range of abilities and learning goals; and this irrespective of participants’ cultural roots.
For more details, kindly check the isme2016glasgow.org website during the conference (24-29 July 2016)
Music counts among the proverbial “64 arts and skills” of ancient India where it became synonymous with “leading a fulfilled life”. Thus, having evolved along with other pursuits, Indian music is an interdisciplinary concept that connects people irrespective of age and cultural background. It is in this context that we explore the world of musical figures: figures that convey subtle meaning while symbolizing the very joy of participating in music making of a high order. Rather than borrowing sounds from a supposedly exotic culture, we apply the building blocks of Indian music for several good reasons: for their accessibility in the context of intercultural education and, of course, for their intrinsic value and beauty.
Learners tap into the mind-boggling world of India’s musical ideas. Tiny musical figures are adapted in a manner that has stood the test of time. While being fun on first hearing they also lend themselves to being visualized and analyzed for non-musical purposes.
This teaching method lends itself to classroom and lifelong learning across the entire social spectrum: it adds colour to other school subjects like maths, languages, geography or physical fitness; and requiring no more than voices, hands and open-mindedness, it kindles communication where there is a lack of time and resources, or even a common language. Figuratively yours, ours truly!
Ludwig Pesch studied at Freiburg University from where he went to India in order to be trained and perform as bamboo flautist. Since then he develops intercultural activities that suit the needs of children, music students and teachers; and also for museum education (e.g. family programmes for Museum Rietberg Zurich in conjunction with Indian art exhibitions).
“Unity in Diversity, Antiquity in Contemporary Practice? South Indian Music Reconsidered” by Ludwig Pesch (Amsterdam) in Gardner, Matthew; Walsdorf, Hanna (Hrsg.). Musik – Politik – Identität. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag, 2016 (Musikwissenschaften)
This essay evolved from a presentation for participants at the music conference “Music | Musics. Structures and Processes” held at Goettingen University (4-8 September 2012); with due credits to the editors.
To download this essay (PDF 500 KB), click here >>
The “classical” music of South India is an amalgam of regional traditions and practices. Increasingly codified in the past five centuries, it is now known as Carnatic or Karnatak music. Like the Sanskrit term Karnâtaka Sangîtam, these Anglicisms denote “traditional” music besides distinguishing South Indian music from its northern (Hindustani) counterpart. Progressive scholars have long espoused the common goal of making teaching more effective for both idioms while safeguarding “authentity”. It may therefore seem odd that detailed notation has not been embraced by practitioners.
This paper probes the resilience of oral transmission in the face of modernity. It looks into the concerns shared by musicians who, while belonging to different cultures and periods, have much in common as far as performing practice is concerned: close integration of vocal and instrumental music. The role of manuscripts in Minnesang, as described by McMahon, also applies to Carnatic music: “songs were handed down in an oral tradition [and] the manuscripts were not intended to be used by performers.” (The Music of Early Minnesang Columbia SC, 1990.)
It will be argued that this fact is not just a question of some musicians’ conservatism, ignorance or irrationality; nor would it put the continuity of a living tradition at risk. On the contrary, Carnatic music reaches global audiences today while “ancient” roots are claimed even by those who cherish its association with musicians from other cultures throughout the 20th century.
About this publication
Music – Politics – Identity
Music always mirrors and acts as a focal point for social paradigms and discourses surrounding political and national identity. The essays in this volume combine contributions on historical and present-day questions about the relationship between politics and musical creativity.
The first part concentrates on musical identity and political reality, discussing ideological values in musical discourses.
The second part deals with (musical) constructions, drwawing on diverse national connections within our own and foreign identity.
Matthew Gardner & Hanna Walsdorf (eds.)
Musik – Politik – Identität
Musik ist immer auch Spiegel und Kristallisationspunkt gesellschaftlicher Paradigmen und politisch-nationaler Identitätsdiskurse. Der vorliegende Sammelband vereint Beiträge zu historischen und gegenwärtigen Fragestellungen, die um das Verhältnis von Politik und musikalischem Schaffen kreisen.
Im ersten Teil sind Beiträge zusammengefasst, die sich mit „Musikalischer Identität und politischer Realität“ befassen und dabei ideologische Zuschreibungsprozesse im Musikdiskurs thematisieren.
Der zweite Teil des Bandes umfasst Betrachtungen über „(Musikalische) Konstruktionen von eigener und fremder Identität“ aus verschiedensten nationalen Zusammenhängen.
Matthew Gardner & Hanna Walsdorf (Hg.)
Inhalt / Contents
Hanna Walsdorf und Matthew Gardner
I Musikalische Identität und politische Realität
Deutsche Nationalmusik? Ein diskursgeschichtlicher Annäherungsversuch
Mauro Fosco Bertola
„Die Musik ist mediterran“: Orient, Latinität und Musikgeschichte, oder: Wie Nietzsche 1937 Italiens koloniale Macht legitimieren sollte
„Nordische Musik“ als Faktor der Propaganda der Nordischen Gesellschaft und der DNSAP in Dänemark um 1940
„Was ließen jene, die vor uns schon waren…?“ Musik in der Bündischen Jugend nach 1945
Methoden musikalischer Opposition in Portugal während der Salazar-Diktatur bei Jorge Peixinho und José Afonso
Paul Christiansen ‘The Stakes Are Too High For You to Stay Home’: Divergent Uses of Music in TV Political Ads in the 1964 U.S. Presidential Election
II (Musikalische) Konstruktionen von eigener und fremder Identität
‘Das Land ohne Musik’? National Musical Identity in Victorian and Edwardian England
Reflections of European Culture in the Grey Collection (National Library of South Africa)
Jazz and the Emergence of the African-Roots Theory
Achim Freyers Mr. Rabbit and the Dragon King: Eine Interpretation des koreanischen P’ansori Sugungga
Unity in Diversity, Antiquity in Contemporary Practice? South Indian Music Reconsidered
“Unity in Diversity, Antiquity in Contemporary Practice? South Indian Music Reconsidered” by Ludwig Pesch (Amsterdam) in Gardner, Matthew; Walsdorf, Hanna (Hrsg.). Musik – Politik – Identität / Music – Politics – Identity. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag, 2016 (Musikwissenschaften) | Abstract and contents >>