THE SPACE OF RIYAAZ
Workshops and Performances of Three Indian Classical Singers in Shanghai & Suzhou
（Collateral Events of 11th Shanghai Biennale）
PRODUCING VOICE: a Workshop of Indian Classical Singers with Chinese Kunqu Artists
Time: 10.00-12.00 am, Nov 19th
Venue: Huixin Building, Mingfu Library
THE SPACE OF RIYAAZ: Performance and Interaction with Indian Classical Singers
Time: 2.30-5.30 pm, Nov 20th
Venue: 3rd Floor, Shanghai Power Station of Art
Workshop On Music Pedagogy by Indian Classical Singers
Time: 3.00-5.00 am, Nov. 21st
Venue: Lecture Theatre, Shanghai Conservatory of Music
SILK ROUTE MUSIC: Performance and Interaction with Indian Classical Singers
Time: 16.00-19.00, Nov. 22nd
Venue: Jiayuan Hall, Suzhou
Note on Classical Indian Music
There are two major strands of classical music in India – North Indian or Hindustani, and South Indian or Carnatic. The West Heavens events in Shanghai and Suzhou will feature three well-known exponents of the North Indian tradition.
The tradition goes back to the 12th century CE in the South Asian sub-continent, including the countries known today as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. By the 16th century, North Indian music consolidated itself in the courts of the Mughal Empire, where different styles of singing, instrumentation and dancing developed. With the courtly culture being destroyed by British domination after the 1860s, the performers dispersed to the small princely states and to major commercial centres like Bombay/Mumbai. By the late 19th century, music schools were set up, and notation systems devised for what was largely an oral tradition of learning. Thousands of people started learning music in the schools as well as with individual teachers, and this is something that continues to this day. Contemporary technological developments like recording, digital app-based percussion and accompaniment and online classes help retain the popularity of classical music.
North Indian music is called raaga music. A raag or raga is a melodic mode sung to a rhythmic cycle which is called taal. The raag has a specific pattern of ascent and descent, and certain catchphrases that are specific to each raag. Although there is a composition (bandish) at the heart of each performance, the musician’s skill is demonstrated through his or her ability to elaborate the raag through improvisation. So there is no following of an existing score like in Western music. The Indian musician simply internalizes the features of a particular raag and elaborates that raag, using a variety of techniques – sometimes singing the words of the composition at a faster speed (bol taan), or singing the notes (sargam taan), or singing just the ‘aaa’ vowel of the notes (aakaar taan). Apart from natural notes, Indian music also has flat (komal) notes and sharp (teevra) notes. The music is vocal-centric, and instruments are valued for how closely they approximate the human voice. Usually, the compositions are in the Hindi language or its dialects such as Brajbhasha.