Masters Profile:

Karnatic Rhythm in Western Music

The Masters Profile, ‘Karnatic Rhythm in Western music’ addresses ways in which the Karnatic rhythmical system can enhance, improve or even radically change the creation (be it written or improvised) and interpretation of (complex) contemporary classical and jazz music.

20th and 21st centuries music demand a new approach to rhythmical training, a training that will provide musicians with the necessary tools to face with accuracy more varied and complex rhythmical concepts, while keeping the emotional content.

Furthermore, many creators, whether they belong to the classical or jazz worlds, are currently organising their music not only in terms of pitch content but with rhythmical structures and are eager to obtain information that would structure and classify rhythmical possibilities in a coherent and practicable way.

The incredible wealth of rhythmical techniques, devices and concepts, the different types of Tala construction, the use of rhythm as a structural and developmental element and, last but not least, the use of mathematics to sometimes very sophisticated levels in South India, enable the western musician to improve and enhance their accuracy and/or their creative process and make the study of karnatic rhythm a fascinating adventure of far-reaching consequences. The large variety of rhythmical devices used in karnatic music is, in the West, one of the elements most unknown and least documented, yet potentially most universal. 

Structure

This Masters Profile is based on the 4-year programme ‘Contemporary music through non-western techniques’ but deepening and providing many more elements than the regular lessons. It is organised and catered for students from both classical and jazz departments, and structured differently for:

    1) Performers (both classical and improvisers)
    2) Composers

The main differences with the regular group lessons that can be followed as a masters elective are:

  • The student will receive weekly individual coaching in order to prepare pieces throughout the year. (The individual coaching  is offered exclusively to students who choose this masters profile.)
  • There will be sessions on a regular basis where the ‘roots’ of the material, as well as what other creators have done or are doing with Karnatic rhythmical concepts, will be listened to and analysed within a musical context.
  • Students studying the Masters Profile also have the option of following regular lessons of either composition or ensembles of CMNTWT different to the background of the student.

All students will start where they left off at the end of their bachelors studies (i.e., if a student has finished the 1st year of the Reading, Improvisation or Composition approach, he/she will continue with the material of the 2nd year, regardless the chosen option).

Requirements: Performers* must have completed the introductory course ‘Advanced Rhythm’. Students who have finished their bachelors elsewhere, must follow the online version of this course after they have been accepted by the Conservatory and before the academic year starts in September, or show an equal level of rhythmical knowledge/skills.

*Composers are exempted from fulfilling this requirement.

During the 2nd year, the student can choose to go to India via the Jahnavi Jayaprakash Foundation (Bangalore) under the guidance of B.C. Manjunath, or the University of Mysore, under the guidance of Dr. Mysore Manjunath, for a maximum of 6 weeks in order to attain the ‘Indian’ view on the elements of the program. The student needs to choose a period of the year in which he would miss a maximum of three weeks of lessons in Amsterdam (sometime before and after Christmas seems to be the most appropriate; also this is the time of the Madras Festival with over 4,000 concerts in one month). This could be one of the possibilities of the Individual Credits.