Raga Kapi

Here are some videos of South Indian, Carnatic music. They're taken from a concert in London and feature Jayanthi Kumaresh and Patri Satish Kumar, who I think have become instantly two of my favourite musicians.

Kumaresh plays the saraswati veena, an ancient and now endangered instrument, said to have been played by the Hindu goddess of the arts, Saraswati. Kumar plays mridangam, the double-headed drum, the sounds of which form a prayer, or mantra, to Shiva Nataraja. Support, on the tampura drone, comes from Mithila Sarma. The chemistry and sympathy between the musicians is extraordinary, and I'm struck by how rare it is in the West to see a woman playing an instrument with such artistry, composure and humility, without men somehow stealing the spotlight.

Raga Kapi is introduced with an alapana section in the first video, followed by the thillana in the second. This is played in adi tala, an eight-beat cycle – if you can, try keeping time with hand claps (clap-pinky-ring-middle, clap-wave-clap-wave) – it will make the climax even more breathtaking. The final video is a short but illuminating interview with Kumar.



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