Carnatic Flute

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Text of Carnatic Flute

An Introduction to the Carnatic FluteNo part of this presentation either wholly or partially be used as references without the mention of the Vamshidwani institution. For the propagation and promotion of the arts, conditional rights will be given upon written requests. All rights reserved.

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Objectives Create an awareness on the nature of the Carnatic flute & the Hindustani flute Understand the basic fingering of the notes Understand the major contributions of the Carnatic flute to Indian music Understand the development of the Carnatic flute

Synopsis Origins Technique Performers Survival Conclusion

OriginsTopics: Early Music Sangam Music Post-Sangam Music Vedic Music Modern Era

Origins Early Music Across many cultures around the world, the flute has been the first melodic instrument that has captured the imagination of man Built with a diverse range of materials from animal bones, to hollow wood tubes, bamboo & even metal, every major culture in the world has its musical origins from the flute. The only exception that makes them unique from each other is the type of music that each flute is designed to play

Origins Early Music Types of Early Flutes The earliest known flutes are made of animal bones and often produce limited tunes. Most surviving types are found throughout Europe & China Ancient cultures including the Assyrians, Egyptians, Jews, Chinese & Indians also developed flutes with mainly wood based materials

Origins Early Music Some Examples of Early Bone Flutes

Source: BBC News Online

Source: National Geographic Channel Web

Origins Early Music Other Types of Flutes

Source: The Gutenberg Project

Origins Early Music

MaterialsBamboo however, became the preferred instrument in the East over centuries of evolution by Japanese, Chinese & Indian scholars Though Japanese & Chinese flutes have been redesigned today with metal parts, the Indian bamboo flutes remained exempt of such modifications & it remained as an important music instrument in pre-historic Indian music until the dawn of the Sangam eras in South India

Origins Sangam Music During the 3 Great Sangam Eras, the evolution of Tamil music saw a new peak with the introduction of ragas, thalas, playing techniques & design of the flute The Silappadikaram is the first Indian treatise, written in Tamil that introduces the classical flute with such important details Kovalan, the protagonist of the epic is an expert flautist The introduction of scales like Harikhamboji, Kalyani, Mohanam, Valaji & Hindolam defined the flute fingering of all the 16 notes of South Indian music that is still used today including the playing posture

Origins Sangam Music The Silappadikaram quotes 3 types of flutes: Kondraikulal Ambarkulal Mullaikulal

Origins Sangam Music The Sangam eras also showcased the importance of the flute with its association with classical music thereby being the first civilization to use the flute for classical music in the world It is to be noted that the Sangam era predated the period of the vina, a successor to the Sangam lute. In addition, the flute became a standard instrument of assessing the competency of Sangam music bards for their patronage in royal courts & temples

Origins Post-Sangam Music Sarangadeva, a North Indian musicologist of repute, began to read & write extensive commentaries on Indian music & its instruments with strong emphasis on the flute His work the Sangitaratnakara became a technical masterpiece of Indian music literature that is only parallel to the Silappadikaram It is the only pre-Moghul Sanskrit literature that is highly regarded by both Hindustani musicians & Carnatic musicians

Origins Post-Sangam Music 15 varieties of vamsa (flute) are mentioned by Sarangadeva: Ekavira Umpati Tripurusha Chaturmukha Panchavaktra Shanmukha* Muni Ashtadasangula - Vasu - Nathendra - Mahananda - Rudra - Aditya - Manu - Kalanidhi

*In practice, only the Shanmukhavamsa types are in common use, the rest are either too short or too long for practical application

Origins Post-Sangam Music After the fall of the last Sangam era, the premedieval kingdoms of South India devoted their scholars to compile & consolidate all remaining Sangam literature The Cholas in particular took a great leap in enshrining art by building numerous temples of art, & preserving important art manuscripts They were also the first & the last southern kingdom to patronize Sangam music in the courts & temples before being absorbed into the Vedic traditions in the early years of the first millenia A.D.

Origins Vedic Music The spread of Vedic philosophy from the Gangetic plains of North India through conquests & intellectual interaction made possible for new discoveries in the evolution of Hindu music by the invention of the vina, which according to the research of the worldrenowned musicologist of Carnatic music, Padma Bhushan Prof. P. Sambamoorthy had its origins from the flute

Origins Vedic Music With the rise of the Vijayanagar empire & the decline of the Cholas, the influence of Vedic music took precedence as its vocal music tradition appealed more to the educated elite of the royal courts The flute declined in its importance as a classical music instrument giving way to the rise of string instruments which easily emulated the vocal nuances of Vedic music as compared to the flute

Origins Vedic Music In a time warp, the flute returned to its early origins in folk music while Indian music literature continued to expand in leaps & bounds under the Vijayanagar empire The art loving Moghuls however had a penchant for flute music & patronized flautists from South India. However no developments in flute took place in Moghul India. Recorded patronage of flute music was last noted in Jehangirs Memoirs.

Origins Modern Era It was only in the closing years of the 19th century, that the flute gained its due classical status. The blind musical prodigy, Sharaba Shastri revived the instrument by easily playing the compositions of the Trinity with flair & quality. Even though, the instrument did not achieve the popularity of vocal music Playing on the 7-hole Carnatic flute, which is much similar to the modern bansuri form of North India Sharaba Shastri gave a concert worthy status to the Carnatic flute

Origins Modern Era It was the 8-hole flute which eventually gave a vocal status to the Carnatic flute which was introduced by T.R. Mahalingam or better known as the infamous flute prodigy, Flute Mali Influenced by the Nageswaram players using the same fingering techniques as the ancients used, Mali created the vocal nuances on the 8-hole flute, & added the 8th hole to reach the anumandira rishaba Today most successful Carnatic flautists employ the same techniques introduced by Mali

TechniqueTopics: Basic Fingering Playing Posture Advisory

Technique Basic Fingering The preceding slides will show some of the basic fingering that is required to play the 7 basic notes: Shadjam Rishabam Ghandharam Madhyamam Dhaivatham Nishadam

Technique Basic Fingering Shadjam Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played by closing the first 2 finger holes from the blow hole Thara sthayi Shadjam is played by overblowing, until a shrill is achieved

Technique Basic Fingering Suddha Rishaba Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played by partially closing the 2nd finger hole from the blow hole & closing the 1st hole Thara sthayi Rishaba is played by overblowing, until a shrill is achieved

Technique Basic Fingering Chatushruthi Rishaba Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played by closing the 1st finger hole from the blow hole Thara sthayi Rishaba is played by overblowing, until a shrill is achieved

Technique Basic Fingering Sadarana Ghandaram Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played by partially closing the 1st finger hole from the blow hole Thara sthayi Ghandaram is played by overblowing, until a shrill is achieved

Technique Basic Fingering Antara Ghandaram Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played without closing any finger holes Thara sthayi Ghandaram fingering may vary with different flutes

Technique Basic Fingering Suddha Madhyamam Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played by closing all finger holes except the 1st & the 7th holes Thara sthayi Madhyamam is played by overblowing, until a shrill is achieved

Technique Basic Fingering Prathi Madhyamam Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played by closing the first 5 holes & partially the 6th hole Thara sthayi Madhyamam fingering may vary with different flutes

Technique Basic Fingering Panchamam Mandira & Thara Sthayi Played by closing the first 5 holes Thara sthayi Panchamam fingering may vary with different flutes

Technique Basic Fingering Suddha Dhaivatha Mandira Sthayi Played by closing the first 4 holes & partially closing the 5th hole Thara sthayi Dhaivatha fingering is rarely played & only possible in certain flutes

Technique Basic Fingering Chatusruthi Dhaivatha Mandira Sthayi Played by closing the first 4 holes Thara sthayi Dhaivatha fingering is rarely played & only possible in certain flutes

Technique Basic Fingering Kaisiki Nishada Mandira Sthayi Played by closing the first 3 holes from the blow hole Thara sthayi Nishada fingering is rarely played & only possible in certain flutes

Technique Basic Fingering Kakali Nishada Mandira Sthayi Played by closing the first 2 holes & partially the 3rd hole Thara sthayi Nishada fingering is rarely played & only possible in certain flutes

Technique Basic Fingering Playing Posture Posture should be upright & elbows perpendicula