Indian classical music and flute

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Raisin le Chat
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:49 pm

Indian classical music and flute

Post by Raisin le Chat » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:59 pm

Greetings,

I'm new to posting here, although I have read the forums on and off for a little while. I am an adult beginner - started in my late 30's, and I've been playing a couple of years. My query is this - I was wondering if anybody knew anything about Indian classical music and flute? I love this music, although lack a deep theoretical knowledge of it. I am familiar with some of the fantastic bansuri playing, and particularly of Hariprasad Chaurasia. Is it reasonable, however to attempt to play music of this style on a Western concert flute? I'm got no grandiose plan to be a virtuoso, and am focussing most of my energy on learning and practising the flute in a more traditional way. It is, however, something which I would like to explore.

I am unaware of anybody doing for flute what John McLaughlin, say, did for guitar, which is to turn it into an Eastern instrument - so I wonder whether it can be done. As much as for practical reasons, I am simply interested in the idea and would like to know about it - even if I never do travel down that road.

Much gratitude for any answers.

nevil
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:40 am

Re: Indian classical music and flute

Post by nevil » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:10 am

It is possible to play western music with the bansuri, but to play the hindustani music on western music can sometimes be limiting. The reason is that western flutes are based on keys, and the transition from one note to the other is rather abrupt. One of the central points of Hindustani music is that the transition from one notes to the other is rather continous and not abrupt. By continous, I mean that the end of one note can be blended into the next. The south Indian classical music, the carnatic style, has less blending of notes, and so there are many musicians who play this style of music on western instruments like flute and saxaphone.
Given that bansuri can transition both abruptly and in a blended manner, it can be used to play western and hindustani music. The down side of bansuri in playing western music is that 'half notes' needs to play by partially closing the holes (which can sometimes be daunting and not very ergonomic) while in the western flutes there are keys to overcome this problem.
I have posted this western song (The Rose) played on bansuri here, hope you would enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z7epedThlw

Jon Palombi
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:56 pm
Location: Stowe, Vermont

Re: Indian classical music and flute

Post by Jon Palombi » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:57 pm

Raisin le Chat wrote:Greetings,

I'm new to posting here, although I have read the forums on and off for a little while. I am an adult beginner - started in my late 30's, and I've been playing a couple of years. My query is this - I was wondering if anybody knew anything about Indian classical music and flute? I love this music, although lack a deep theoretical knowledge of it. I am familiar with some of the fantastic bansuri playing, and particularly of Hariprasad Chaurasia. Is it reasonable, however to attempt to play music of this style on a Western concert flute? I'm got no grandiose plan to be a virtuoso, and am focussing most of my energy on learning and practising the flute in a more traditional way. It is, however, something which I would like to explore.
Hello Raisin,

nevil is most correct, when one chooses to interpret Hindustani music with the classical Boehm flute, many of the subtle nuances of Indian bansuri are wholly lost. The bending of notes and the signature sound of the Northern Indian ragas cannot be easily done with a keyed flute. Essentially, it's like playing badminton with a ping pong paddle or a tennis racket, instead of a badminton racket. It can be done... but is it not best to use the device created for the specific game being played? :wink:

But where there is a will, there is a way. I've been playing along with recording s of GS Sachdev and Hariprasad Chaurasia for decades. As with the guitar or violin, Hindustani music can be successfully interpreted with western instruments. Still, you will never get the same unique sounds you get from the sitar or veena. While I say go for it... the right tool makes the job easier and the end result better.

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
I am unaware of anybody doing for flute what John McLaughlin, say, did for guitar, which is to turn it into an Eastern instrument - so I wonder whether it can be done. As much as for practical reasons, I am simply interested in the idea and would like to know about it - even if I never do travel down that road.

Much gratitude for any answers.
Paul Horn has recorded with Indian musicians. Now as much as I admire Paul's musical gift, it just isn't the same with the sliver concert flute. IMO, much of the indigenous flavor is lost and that's what makes bansuri music so exotic and truly exceptional. 8)

Here are a few YouTube music clips. These are the best examples of a concert flute playing Indian music. These 4 vids are a duet between Bapu Padmanabha on bansuri and Jan Klyn on western concert flutist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5m3QGHvAt4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcbbovS5ZuU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeejjLrBx5M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcbbovS5 ... creen&NR=1


As nevil suggests, playing western music on the bansuri is more reasonable and effective than the opposite. I feel that such attempts end up sounding New Age. Not that this is inherently wrong, because it is most certainly not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuP43xsAI30

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98-SNlApA-o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE3J_0O0cKQ

Check out Pandit Ronu Majumdar's work with Ry Cooder and other western musicians.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zeaTh0f0E4


The same can be said for the Japanese shakuhachi music being played upon a Boehm flute. You just don't get that same enigmatic tone out of a silver concert flute. I feel that even the great Jean Pierre Rampal couldn't bridge the gap sufficiency,on his J.P. RAMPAL FLUTE FAVORITES, Japanese Melodies. But these two recordings are the closest I've ever heard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGLvAnPfN2g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQRssSuY1lU

Bamboo is just wonderful for expressing such nuances and the bending and rolling of notes. You might have an easier time translating Hindustani music on an Irish keyless flute? You would surely be able to bend and roll the notes better on an Irish keyless flute, perhaps the low D. :idea:

Another thing to consider its this, most Hindustani raga music is played on the low F and E bansuri. They've got a far deeper tonal range. Do you play alto and bass silver flutes? It would help you to be able to make the finger stretch to low bansuri flutes. But I say go for it! Follow your heart and see where it leads you. But I still recommend that you pick up a few bansuri and explore their unique qualities. Anubodh makes bansuir with a raised lip plate. I have one of his low F bansuri with this feature. He also makes a parallel to the silver Boehm flute. It's a fabulous way to segue to the traditional bansuri. http://www.anubodh.com/neo_bansuri.htm

This is a great English language resource for bansuri:

http://www.bansuriflute.co.uk/

Enjoy the musical journey, Jon

jseligmann
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:54 pm

Re: Indian classical music and flute

Post by jseligmann » Sat Dec 22, 2012 7:01 pm

I have been playing Indian-style flute for years. It is correct that, without the ability to bend notes, the western flute will never capture the authentic essence of Hindustani or Carnatic flute playing. I get that, but it doesn't stop me from having fun at it (and even making music, at times). Avi Adir http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE3J_0O0cKQ comes close to the kind of music I make.

I always use a tanpura accompaniment, sometimes alone and sometimes augmented by the tabla. There is a terrific app for the ipad called iTablaPro that has both tanpura and tabla sounds that are playable separately or together in a vast number of customizable preset raga forms.

I will never get to this level of playing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QuDEx3_Ygo, but the more you listen to what is being said, the better equipped you will be to jump in.

nevil
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:40 am

Re: Indian classical music and flute

Post by nevil » Fri May 17, 2013 5:25 pm

The Avi Adir is wonderful... thanks for posting this.

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