De tambura

Tambura_sculpture_Arun

Het belangrijkste begeleidingsinstrument van India – ook bekend als tanpura – sierde de salons van vorsten, kooplieden en courtisanes lang voordat het ruim een eeuw geleden zijn intocht deed in het openbare concertleven. Zijn huidige vorm, meestal met vier snaren, is sinds de zeventiende eeuw bekend. Het verenigt in zich kenmerken van de Indiase citer (vina of bin) met die van de langhals-luit. Van gelijkvormige instrumenten uit aangrenzende regio’s onderscheidt het zich zowel door haar functie als door de wijze van bespelen: waarschijnlijk al vanaf de dertiende eeuw gebruiken Indiase musici namelijk de grondtoon ‘Sa’. Deze wordt vrij gekozen overeenkomstig de stem van de zanger of het stemregister van het solo-instrument. Als steuntoon (bourdon) vormt hij het uitgangspunt voor melodische vormen, die men als raga (kleurschakering) aanduidt. Een rijke schat van zeer uiteenlopende raga’s maakt het zowel componisten als musici mogelijk elke denkbare stemming (rasa) uit de drukken

Tekst: Ludwig Pesch | Vertaling: Mieke Beumer | Art: V.C. Arun

Luister naar de klank van de tambura; hier bespeeld door Ludwig Pesch

Foto van het instrument waarmee dit geluidsfragment is opgenomen

Tanjore-style Carnatic tambura.JPG
Foto: Martin spaink

The tambura (tanpura)

Tambura_sculpture_Arun

Text: Ludwig Pesch | Art: Arun V.C.

The tambura – also known as tanpura – has long served as India’s most important accompaniment. It accompanies vocal and instrumental performers as well as dance musicians. It has embellished the salons of nobles, merchants and courtisans long before its arrival on the modern concert stage.

Its present form with four strings has been known since the 17th century. It combines the properties of two types of instruments, namely the ancient zither (veena or been) and the present long-necked lute (Sarasvati veena, sitar). Its function and manner of playing distinguishes the tambura from similar instruments used in neighbouring countries. This is because Indian musicians have used a fundamental note since about the 13th century.

Hundreds of melody types – known as raga (lit.’colours’) – have since been created, rediscovered and analysed. They all arise from a fundamental note, known as ‘sadja’, which is articulated as ‘Sa’ during a lesson or vocal performance.

The fundamental note is continuously sounded as the tambura’s ‘supporting’ or ‘base’ note (the bourdon or drone of western music). It is freely chosen in accordance with the vocal or instrumental range of the main performer.

With these basic elements composers, musicians and dancers are able to evoke any conceivable mood or aesthetic experience (rasa). This requires no more than a few additional notes, usually arranged in a particular sequence by which they are readily recognised by discerning listeners. The notes heard in any given raga are drawn from among the proverbial ‘seven notes’ (saptasvara). A competent musician also knows which notes need to be modified by means of embellishments (gamaka) and subtle shades achieved by intonation (sruti).

Listen to the tambura played by Ludwig Pesch

Photo of the instrument heard in the present music example

Tanjore-style Carnatic tambura.JPG
Photo: Martin spaink

Die Tambura

Tambura_sculpture_Arun

Text: Ludwig Pesch | Art: V.C. Arun

Das wichtigste Begleitinstrument Indiens zierte die Salons von Fürsten, Kaufleuten und Kurtisanen. Seit dem frühen 20. Jahrhundert beflügelt der Klangreichtum gerade dieses Instruments die Fantasie eines neu entstehenden Konzertpublikums. Seither ist die aktive Teilnahme von Rasika genannten Musikliebhabern nicht mehr aus dem Musikleben Indiens wegzudenken.

Die Tambura (Tānpūra in Nordindien) hat meist vier Saiten. Ihre heutige Form ist seit dem 17. Jahrhundert bekannt und vereinigt Merkmale der indischen Zither (Vīnā oder Bīn) mit denen der Langhalslaute.

Von ähnlichen Instrumenten benachbarter Regionen (Tanbur) unterscheidet es sich sowohl durch seine Funktion als durch seine Spielweise. Spätestens seit dem 13. Jahrhundert bedienen indische Musiker sich nämlich eines Grundtons “Sa”, den sie – je nach Stimmlage oder Soloinstrument – frei wählen können.

Als Halteton (Bordun) bildet “Sa” den Ausgangspunkt für melodische Gestalten, die man mit “Färbung des Geistes” (Rāga), also Gefühlsausdruck, bezeichnet. Ein reicher Fundus recht unterschiedlicher Ragas ermöglicht es, jede nur denkbare Stimmung (Rasa) auszudrücken. 

Auf dieser scheinbar einfachen Grundlage entwickelten sich 72 Tonleitern als Orientierung für Komponisten, Musiker und Tänzer. Zudem schafft die Tambura ein geeignetes Umfeld, in dem der musikalische und poetische Ausdruck vieler Epochen und Kulturen zu einem Ganzen zusammenwachsen – und doch immer persönlich – bleiben konnte.

Hörbeispiel: Tambura gespielt von Ludwig Pesch

Foto des Instruments im Hörbeispiel

Tanjore-style Carnatic tambura.JPG
Foto: Martin spaink

Video | Chor@Berlin 2017: Ode an die Nacht (Ausschnitt)

Chor@Berlin 2017: Ode an die Nacht (Ausschnitt) from Deutscher Chorverband on Vimeo.

Mit „Ode an die Nacht“ gelangte im Rahmen von Chor@Berlin am 24. Februar 2017 im Radialsystem V das letzte Werk von Harald Weiss’ „Darkness Project“ zur Uraufführung.

Kammerchor Berlin (Einstudierung: Stefan Rauh)
Concentus Neukölln – Ensemble der Musikschule Paul-Hindemith, Neukölln (Einstudierung: Thomas Hennig)
Berliner Mädchenchor (Einstudierung: Sabine Wüsthoff)

Indischer Gesang und Tambura: Manickam Yogeswaran
Blues-Gesang: Hanno Bruhn
Bajan: Mateja Zenzerovic
Klavier und Synthesizer: Peter Müller
Violine: Kinneret Sieradzki
Kontrabass: Guy Tuneh
Schlagzeug: Viorel Chiriacescu, Daniel Eichholz und Alexandros Giovanos
Elektro-akustische Vorproduktion: Harald Weiss
Stimme: Andrea Gubisch
Gesamtleitung: Thomas Hennig

Disputationes Salzburg

Indische Spiritualität in Kunst und Kultur

Evarani-ScreenShot-Yogeswaran-YouTubeHerbert-Batliner-Europainstitut in Kooperation mit den Salzburger Festspielen im Rahmen der Ouverture spirituelle

Impulsreferate Montag, 20. Juli 2015, 15.00 – 18.00 Uhr
Gesprächsrunde 17:00 – 18:00 im Haus für Mozart

  • Heidrun Brückner: Mythologische Stoffe und hinduistische Epen auf der Bühne
  • Ludwig Pesch: Raum für Ideen? Zeit zum Spiel! Zum Sinn eines unbefangeneren Umgangs mit der „klassischen“ Musik Indien – Zusammenfassung >>
  • Michael von Brück: Sparsha – Indische Kunst und Kultur als religiöser Raum

Jati-ScreenShot-Yogeswaran-YouTubeHörbeispiele von Manickam Yogeswaran

  • Tambura – Langhalslaute
  • Jati-Figur – eine südindische Rhythmusübung
  • Evarani – ein Kunstlied vo Sri Tyagaraja (1767-1847)

 

My mind took wing. Fly! Fly! – A homage to Rabindranath Tagore

My mind took wing. Fly! Fly! …

Science recognizes atoms, all of which can he weighed and measured, but never recognizes personality, the one thing that lies at the basis of reality. All creation is that, for apart from personality, there is no meaning in creation.

Celebrating Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, we at AIUME gladly share our delight in the great Bengali poet-composer’s contribution to world civilization and peace.

He is remembered for his far sighted contributions to many fields. Perhaps more than even during his lifetime (1861-1941), his insights are relevant and inspiring.

Many of Rabindranath Tagore’s creations and contributions are yet to be made accessible to the general public outside his native Bengal. Some of his literary works are presently being made available in English, German and other languages for the first time as to reach a global audience.

His love for nature and faith in the future of mankind  found their highest expression in Santiniketan (“Abode of Peace”), the school and centre for rural development he established in rural West Bengal in 1901. Unlike the schools known until then, pupils and teaches alike could put the concept of learning without fear into practice. By making lifelong learning a requirement rather than a pious wish, Rabindranath Tagore was far ahead of his time:

A most important truth, which we are apt to forget, is that a teacher can never truly teach unless he is still learning himself. A lamp can never light another lamp unless it continues to burn its own flame. Visva-Bharati and its institutions–Santiniketan1961, p. 28

In Nationalism (1917) “he discusses the resurgence of the East and the challenge it poses to Western supremacy, calling for a future beyond nationalism, based instead on cooperation and racial tolerance.” – Synopsis for the Penguin reprint as part of the “Great Ideas” series (2010)

As observed by Harish Trivedi in his insightful 1991 Introduction to Edward Thompson’s Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Dramatist, “Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was arguably the greatest writer of modern India. Yet the precise nature of his literary greatness and the evidence for it have by and large remained a fairly well kept Bengali secret.” This has remained the case in most parts of the world ever since his short-lived and quite unexpected stardom among western readers and listeners in the wake of receiving the Nobelprize in 1913:

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. In fact his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. For the world he became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.

Rabindranath Tagore Biography
Nobelprize.org

His immeasurable friendship found its appropriate expression in the works of fellow poets, artists, composers and peace activists around the world. Dutch artist Rie Cramer (1887-1977), reckoned among the best illustrators of children’s books of the 20th century, created a series of six miniatures for the Dutch edition of The Post Office. Just one of these very illustrations will suffice to convey the tenderness that permeates Tagore’s literary and educational work and continues to inspire fellow artists; and this even at a time when he suffered personal tragedies and challenges from political leaders.

The world of sound is a tiny bubble in the silence of the infinite. The universe has its own language of gesture; it talks in the voice of pictures and dance. Every object in the world proclaims in the dumb signal of lines and colours, the fact that it is not a mere logical abstraction or a mere thing of use, but it is unique in itself, it carries the miracle of its existence.–Rabindranath Tagore quoted by Dinkar Kowshik in
Doodled Fancy, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan 1999, p. 8

The following quotation leaves no doubt that it is never too late to rediscover the intrinsic beauty and timelessness of his contribution. In order to do justice to his genius, this effort needs to make sense to a younger generation, the world’s youth he cared for so much but as yet knows so little about him:

Amal: And what about streams and waterfalls?
Thakurda: … They flow like molten diamonds, and how the drops dance! The small pebbles in the streams hum and murmur as the waters gush over them, until finally they plunge into the ocean. No one, not even a doctor, can restrain them for even a single second.

By way of homage to Rabindranath Tagore, we invite you to join in Thiruvalluvar’s ancient celebration of water in chaste Tamil; here in a modern rendition appropriately set to Amritavarshini, the raga traditionally associated with rain in South India and Sri Lanka:

Thirukkural excerpt sung by Yoga Manickam Yogeswaran

By the continuance of rain the world is preserved in existence; it is therefore worthy to be called ambrosia.– Thirukkural (from Rev. Pope’s 1886 English Translation and Commentary found on the projectmadurai website)–Recording: Thirukkural in 133 Raagams by Saint Thiruvalluvar– Tamil Classics CD 2000

One of the open air classes held at Santiniketan during the dry season

The opening quotes, “My mind took wing. Fly! Fly! …” are taken from the Translator’s Preface for Dak Ghar, English The Post Office. The following should be of special interest in our present context, namely the need for actively involving the world’s youth in issues that concern the future of all of mankind; be it in terms of peaceful coexistence or care for nature and the natural resources we all depend upon. Is this a matter for an enlightened westernized elite? Far from it, and this is why Tagore founded a centre for rural reconstruction to which the modern ecological movement owes so much. In the words of Satish Kumar, paying homage to Rabindranath Tagore in his capacity as Editor-in-Chief at Resurgence:

He not only healed the sorrow and suffering which he had experienced due to death, depression and disappointment in his own life but he worked too to heal the wounds of injustice and inequality within Indian society. …

The worldview of Tagore is seeing the unity of reason and religion, spirit and matter and letting them dance together. This is the big vision where science complements spirituality, art complements ecology and freedom complements equality.
The Wisdom of Tagore (Resurgence, Issue 266 May/June 2011)

 

Like water, or rather the increasing scarcity of this life-giving resource for millions around the world, there are other issues that, according to Tagore, deserve our attention. To set an example, he dedicated his personal resources to an institution that provides modern education to children irrespective of their social background. Their education would include first hand knowledge of several arts as part of their daily routines; and combine the observation of nature with scientific insights. Such knowledge would be provided by visiting experts from many parts of the country and all over the world. The open spaces in Santiniketan, shaded by large trees planted for this purpose, became the preferred locations for holding classes. This effective approach has become a role model wherever resources need to be devoted to the welfare of children and their teachers rather than investing in cement.

Tagore wrote The Post Office in Bengal in 1911, not long after losing his son, daughter and wife to disease. In the middle of the night, while lying under the stars on the roof of his house in Shantiniketan (the “Abode or Peace”), he had a strange experience. “My mind took wing. Fly! Fly! – I felt an anguish … There was a call to go somewhere and a premonition of death, together with intense emotion – this feeling of restlessness I expressed in I writing Dak Ghar The Post Office.” Soon afterward, Tagore’s worldwide odyssey began.
From the Translators’ Preface to The Post Office translated by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson with illustrations by Michael McCurdy and an Introduction by Anita Desai, St. Martin’s press New York, 1996. (Amal’s dialogue with the Thakura, Tagore’s alter ego, is found on p. 35.)

In About the author, the translators provide a succinct biography that ends on a note readers will never forget:

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1913, the first Asian writer so honored. Widely regarded as the greatest modern Indian writer, Tagore was also an accomplished song composer and painter. An educational and social reformer on a par with Gandhi, Tagore was one of the very first to perceive that East and West would be compelled to meet in the twentieth century, a theme taken up in many of his works. His most spiritually moving work and his only play that is still regularly performed outside Bengal, The Post Office served as inspiration to the children of the Warsaw ghetto. It was read over French radio in André Gide’s translation the night before the Nazis seized Paris.

Postscript 8 May 2011

William Radice, renowned translator of Tagore’s work and himself a poet and writer teaching in London, cautions modern admirers of Rabindranath Tagore not to get carried away by their good intentions.  Pious speeches and reflections on Rabindranath Tagore’s ideas and ideals are all very well, but what ultimately makes him relevant is the power of his art:

Putting Tagore the thinker above Tagore the writer has set up a barrier to the full appreciation of his creative achievements, ever since Gitanjali in 1912 launched his international career. His Nobel Prize of 1913 was given to him for his literature (though not for his Bengali writings), but the audiences who flocked to hear him on his extensive foreign tours wanted his message rather than his poetry. He gave them what they wanted, and lived up to his role as a sage by his long beard and unique, ‘pan-Asian’ style of dress. But he often felt constricted by that role. In 1930, he wrote to his close friend, William Rothenstein:
“The rich luxury of leisure is not for me while I am in Europe — I am doomed to be unrelentingly good to humanity and remain harnessed to a cause. The artist in me ever urges me to be naughty and natural — but it requires a good deal of courage to be what I truly am. Then again I do not really know myself and dare not play tricks with my nature. So the good for nothing artist must have for his bed-fellow the man of a hundred good intentions.”
Revealing words that all organisers of the 150th anniversary events and publications would do well to remember!–Read the full piece in The Hindu, 7 May 2011

By contrast, an Indian authority, Prof. Namwar Singh, urged that Tagore “should not be loaded under a wreath of flowers so that he is not even visible” at a seminar on “Tagore’s Universalism” organised by the Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation: “in making him a global figure, we had forgotten that he laid stress on very small things that mattered in everyday life — from a seed flourishing in nature to rural economic development.”–Read the full report in The Hindu, 8 May 2011