Monday, February 25, 2008


A flurry of thoughts of my experience in India come to mind: in no way is this post a denouement, but rather it is an informal reaction to my time in India…

One of the most underrated aspects of traveling throughout India is that I have found so many awesome records that I would never find back in the States. Indeed, we live in an era of globalization; yet, sometimes I am overwhelmed with how much music I encounter here that I would never be exposed to back in New York City. On those terms, I have discovered a ton of fantastic Indian percussionists, including Palghat T.S. Mani Iyer and Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani – all of whom I was unaware of prior to my arrival in South India.

Furthermore, I have attended so many concerts of local artists – all professional musicians, yet not internationally promoted. There is something very special about seeing a performance and knowing that it is an isolated opportunity: I cannot go to Virgin Records in Union Square and buy the records of these drummers.

A carving on the door of a temple in Chennai.

Perhaps one of the more frustrating aspects of this fellowship is knowing that I will never be able to convey so many of my experiences to this website. I have seen some many things that are pertinent to my research, but I just haven’t been able to write about. For example, while in Goa, I saw several concerts of Western Shivaite converts – Westerners that converted to Hinduism, and worship Shiva by playing music (amongst other things…). Yet, I have been unable to figure out where this group fits into my research. Either way, there has not been a shortage of music-related experiences while in India. It seems that I constantly was surrounded by music: there is always some minor festival or parade precession just around the corner. Simply put, Indian culture is saturated with music, from the pop Bollywood hits to traditional religious songs to regional folk ballads.

I feel very grateful that I have been able to meet so many welcoming musicians here in India; I cannot imagine how my experience in India would have been if I had never met Chandran, my tabla teacher.

I have become very appreciative of the fact that I am conducting this research in the age of the internet: I could not imagine having to plan this fellowship without the aid of computers and instant communication. Furthermore, I think it is really neat that my research is produced in real time: because of this website, I am able to update all of you with my discoveries almost instantaneously – pending I have internet access, that is.

I am very curious to see how the Moroccan tabla compares to the Indian tabla: I would imagine that the crafting is almost identical, but I have learned that hypotheses prior to field research are a complete shot in the dark.

Swami Vivekanada Museum

Swami Vivekananda, the man who introduced Hinduism to the West

Marina Beach in Chennai

Church in Chennai

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