Wednesday, October 03, 2007

welcome to the boys' sangeet club

i spent three evenings over the weekend in a raga singing workshop with pandit pran nath's disciple, terry riley. (wikipedia article here:

riley is also an experimental musician in his own right, having played with tape loops since the 50s. but this workshop was purely indian music. he'd give us a little bit of the raga, a bit more, and a bit more, until about an hour later we'd have the whole composition.

there were certainly things to be gleaned from this: that there is a certain pattern of ascent and descent, and that the same 'note' may be quite different depending on how you're approaching it. it felt like the note could be considered to have a range, started just above the note below and ending just at the tail of the note above. pran nath apparently believed that a note would be different from raga to raga.

the group in the workshop comprised of about 20. it was mostly guys. at least half of the women who were there practice singing or chanting as a devotional, and were looking to expand their range. many of the people there were also instrumentalists - several tabla players, and one guy who had just returned from tuva with a lovely folk stringed instrument and a penchant for throat singing. (amazing post-workshop jam between that and tabla!)

i've already found that i'm using what i learned in my sarangi playing, even though i haven't had a lesson since the workshop. my sarangi instructor is also a student of pran nath, so she's looking forward to working on the ragas with me.

one thing i realized, though, is that although i've been wanting to play music with someone, i'm hesitant to just call someone from the workshop and work with 'em. because it's likely to be a guy. and there was definitely a feeling of being in a guys' club during the workshop. toward the end, someone asked terry for an anecdote about pran nath, and he wasn't able to just spit one out - so he said that two of the men at the workshop were also pran nath's students and could also be asked. my instructor had to pipe up that she was pran nath's student too - and we were all in her house at the time.

so.... still just me, the sarangi, and the buddha machine for right now.

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