FYI…I depart Wednesday and arrive to Udaipur, India on March 3 – the eve of the spring festival of Holi which coincides with the harvesting season – a major event, their “Carnival”, which falls on March 13 this year. But festivities begin before. Traditionally, India follows the lunar calendar. Officially, it does not.
 
On the 5th I and one of my hosts, Jyoti Pande drive to a place called Jasol. It is about 400 km from Udaipur. Jasol is a large pilgrimage centre. It is twinned with a busy industrial town called Balotra. Pande has arranged for me to hear and record devotional music in honour of the folk saint, Mallinath, who was a 14th century ruler of the place.
 
The musicians are not professionals. Our host here is the living descendant of Mallinath whose ancestors were kind of feudal chiefs in Jasol. Our host is a retired civil servant who worked in the Customs and Excise Departments, Government of India.
 
We return to Udaipur on the 7th – afternoon. From then on, the West Zone Cultural Centre Udaipur takes over and other arranged performances take place that have been secured by my other host, recording artist and sarod player Bhargav Mistry. I hope as time and the internet permits, to post ‘discoveries’, learning moments, video and pics of what promises to be an amazing adventure – one I will share with you in full upon my return.
 
This excursion is linked to my research on world music and the increased understanding of those who are different (the stranger) humanity’s commonalities or ‘universalisms’ in music by cultures around the globe as a means of reducing human hatred.
— Jonathan

This is area of India that I’ll spend most of March in. The region is rich in diverse styles of Indian music. After Saturday’s live broadcast, I launch for Udaipur. As time permits, I’ll post here pictures, video and ‘learning moments’ along the way. –Jonathan

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This week my prepatory study includes viewing the DVD “Raga Unveiled”  India’s Voice – the history and essence of North Indian classical music.  Distributed by Gita Desal, 2009

“India, unlike any other country in the world, boasts of cradling an art music that has been sifted and refined over 4000 years. With the even flow of evolution and an unshakeable support of theory, raga music is at once vibrant, mesmeric and sublime to this day. At its core is an ambition to profoundly change the performer and the listener at the deepest level. Nothing more nothing less! Raga Unveiled is a most inspiring and sweeping look at the entire architectural brilliance of a musical system that gave birth to this most wonderful and profound musical art form. For the first time on film, eloquent commentaries by musicians, Vedic scholars, and musicologists join hands with spectacular cinematography, intoxicating spectrums of sound, and rare archival footage resulting in a grand synthesis to honor this music in its entirety. Raga Unveiled inspires, moves and transports one to a place that you never imagined existed. It is a spiritual engagement second to none.”  -DVD liner notes

Here is my developing list of desired experiences  2.22.17:
-Understanding raga and tala
-encounter with Bollywood
-deeper understanding of Hinduism
-seeking any transformative interactions related to the expression of Indian music
-discovering artists of note, past and present
-creating informed acquaintance with the genres
-what to put in and what to leave out of a presentation on the excursion
-musical practices, structures, systems, rhythm, melody
-experiencing a full performance (khyal)
-experiencing the more obscure genres of north Indian music
-recommended recordings

“Music In North India”, a 2004 publication by Oxford University Press (a resource contributor to my research on world), is a well-written and informative book authored by George E. Ruckert, Senior Lecturer in Music at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Just 100 pages in length with an accompanying CD compilation, the text is a ‘friendly’ read which I am primarily using in preparation for my upcoming excursion to North India in March of 2017.  That’s not to say I don’t love richly informative and superbly researched volumes: The Garland Encyclopedias of World Music.  It’s just that each volume is very heavy 10-12 lbs, and is best used atop my campus desk where I and each one can comfortably rest.

The following is the publisher’s introduction to Music in North India, “one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present.

North India is home to a wealth of musical traditions composed of many different styles, genres, and practices. Music in North India provides a representative overview of this music, discussing rhythm and drumming traditions, song composition and performance styles, and melodic and rhythmic instruments. Drawing on his experience as a sarod player, vocalist, and music teacher, author George Ruckert incorporates numerous musical exercises to demonstrate important concepts. The book ranges from the chants of the ancient Vedas to modern devotional singing and from the serious and meditative rendering of raga to the concert-hall excitement of the modern sitar, sarod, and tabla.

It is framed around three major topics: the devotional component of North Indian music, the idea of fixity and spontaneity in the various styles of Indian music, and the importance of the verbal syllable to the expression of the musical aesthetic in North India. Featuring vivid eyewitness accounts of performances and descriptions of interviews with performers, Music in North India examines the form, structure, and expression of North Indian music while also illuminating its profound religious and cultural significance. A 70-minute CD containing examples of the music discussed in the text is packaged with the book.”

Visit: http://www.oup.com/us/globalmusic for a list of case studies in the Global Music Series. The website also includes instructional materials to accompany each study. We’ll see how it goes with internet access and the like, but I do hope to post a few of my ‘learning moments’ during my visit.  More details on that coming as time permits.  –Jonathan