Chords and history combined at the “Music of South India” concert at Winona State University Sept. 16.
Nirmala Rajasekar, singer and veena (plucked lute) player, for the band eagerly strummed for the student-studded audience while sharing stories and cultural significance of South Indian music. She said it was “wonderful to be back at Winona State” because she enjoyed playing for the enthusiastic crowd just one year ago at WSU. The band boasted Another member, Tanjore Murugaboopathi, who played the mridangam (the two-headed drum), was “one of India’s most well known Indian drummers,” said Rajasekar.
According to Rajasekar, most Indian music is played in a particular form or beat, but the rest of the music is played by chance. There is always improvising and creation of Indian music while on stage. This is because the Indian musical system contains complicated poly-rhyths, delicate nuances, ornamentations and microtones while having many different instruments which makes it hard to notate every detail in Indian music, said Rajasekar. The music of the South Indian culture does not have much singing because it is more about the sounds that come out of the instruments rather than the beauty of the voice in Indian music. Musicians of South India can play the music with or without singing, as Rajasekar did for a song at the Winona State concert.
South Indian music is soothing, relaxing and provides tranquility while listening to it, said DeiAndre Avaloz, a Winona State University senior. According to Avaloz, music like this is good to listen to while trying to study because of how calm it sounds.
“It’s a good way to share different cultures and to expose students to see what they wouldn’t on their own,” said Avaloz.
Throughout the concert, Rajasekar spoke of a culture’s customs and principles which are often shared in the music they play through the types of instruments, the sounds of unfamiliar instruments, and the kinds of words that other cultural singers draw into. Some cultures use a rain stick or a shaker, where as it is popular in the United States to use guitars or banjos to make music. Often people from the United States sing about war and hate where as people from India sing about peace and love. Regions use music to represent and share information about their culture.
While many students took in the music regardless of class credit, others listened and took studious comments on notebooks lining their laps. Reem Alaso, a WSU student, felt that the music they played required lots of creativity and deep thought. If no one thought creatively than everyone would think alike and there would be no emotion in the world, said Alaso.
The crowd cheered in amazement of the sounds that came out of the South Indian musician’s foreign instruments and along with the wealth of history they learned to take back to their classrooms while at the “Music of South India” concert.