Tracing the violins inclusion in Carnatic ensemble :

Posted by-Kalki Team

Meet Sruti Sarathy, a 22-year-old violinist from Bay Area, California and a Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Program scholar, who is currently in the city to explore cross-cultural techniques in Carnatic music, borrowed from diverse genres – from jazz to western classical and Hindustani musicality.

Chennai: While pursuing her Masters degree in French literature at Stanford University, Sruti happened to take a course in ethno-musicology. Having learnt the violin since the age of five from Anuradha Sridhar, the niece of maestro Lalgudi G Jayaraman, Sruti found herself exploring the academic side of her favourite instrument.

“When I was doing this course, I researched on the influences of Jazz in Carnatic music styles in Bay Area. Until then, I was performing regularly but after this experience, I got into research and finally, received the Fulbright grant,” said the talented youngster, who accompanied Carnatic vocalist Shiv Subramaniam, a fellow Fulbright researcher on December 20.

Sruti is in the city to research on the hybridity in the Carnatic violin techniques – some of which have been inspired by diverse genres. The violin itself is an oddity in the Carnatic music ensemble.

“The violin is a western instrument, which over the years, has been internalised and become ubiquitous to Carnatic music. That was a starting point. I wanted to trace how the instrument has become integral to Carnatic music, while exploring the various influences borrowed from other genres like Jazz, western classical music and Hindustani music,” said this musician.

Sruti is also meeting violinists from different schools, to study the influences that shaped their unique techniques. “Carnatic music, over the last few years, has seen a lot of innovation, charting out new boundaries. Guided by VVS Murari, a renowned violinist, I am studying different techniques adopted by various schools of violin teachings by interviewing violinists.

For example, this Margazhi season, we are exploring the concept of violin-viola combination, which is not very common. The exploration also asks questions on how the influences from other genres attributes to the meaning of Carnatic music,” she said. The youngster has teamed up with other musicians to create an innovative acapella concept.

“We are working on a project to present a Carnatic acapella using violin in new ways, which will be presented at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival in 2017. Currently, Im immersed in exploring the different harmonies and a musical exploration, which will later turn into theoretical work,” she concluded.

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