|The Chembur Fine
Arts Society, one of the foremost cultural organisations in Mumbai, is going places with
its innovative and pioneering efforts in promoting and propagating Indian music and dance.
The recent thematic annual conferences on Carnatic music have certainly caught the
imagination of the music-loving public. The last three years have witnessed detailed
discussions and demonstrations on the Musical instruments of Carnatic music. The first
conference, on String instruments, was held in February 1999. Spread over two days, it
highlighted in detail the various stringed instruments used in Carnatic music. Whereas the
first day was dedicated to string instruments of Indian origin, like the Vina, Chitravina
etc, the second day covered instruments of western origin that have been successfully
adopted in Carnatic music (Violin, Guitar, Mandolin etc). The participants included
top-notch instrumentalists. Wherever possible, different schools and styles were also
featured. The conferences in 2000 and 2001 covered Wind instruments and Percussion
coming weeks, Carnatica will bring you the papers presented by the participants at these
INSTRUMENTS - 1999
POWER OF VIOLIN AND ITS ROLE AS AN ACCOMPANIMENT IN
- By Dr. M Narmada
History of Violin:
Violin occupies the most important place in the stage of Indian music. In its congenial conceptions,
it owes its origin to the European countries, more
specifically Italy and Germany.
In Indian heritage, the Pauranic references and the sculptural representations portray a
inverted Vina (Vina referring to any stringed instrument with strings generally
mounted on wooden board) with pegs, the number of pegs varying according to the number of
strings. The Yazh (a stringed musical instrument) had been the consistent
reference in Tamil epics like Silappadikaram, Yazh Nool (the very name has been
suggestive of the innumerable descriptions of stringed instruments) etc. Ektar, Do-Tar
were referred to in Hindustani music as the earlier reference to the
The Violin scene in Europe:
With the wonderful array of composers Beethoven, Tchakovsky and Bach, 'Violin Concerts' gained a special significance.
As the violin in its various forms, namely, Cello, Viola and Bass violin gained
dominance and the
passages of the composer were executed in various octaves, the number of strings
and the tonal reproductions gained in presentation along with the craving for more and more.
For refined, soft tonal reproduction, the shape of the violin underwent changes
and different types of wood were tried out, with an aim for perfection of its liens.
As time passed, more and more violins were produced using fine-quality
materials. The result was that the world was gifted with varieties of
Stradivarius, Magni, Ga-pero-De-Salo, the names being solely attributed to the violin
By the 18th century, the shape of the violin had reached a remarkable level of perfection
while it was just in the process of being introduced in other countries.
The scene in India:
According to textual references, violin was first introduced in
the court of Travancore during the regime of Maharajah Swati Tirunal. Vadivelu and
Baluswami Dikshitar were acclaimed as the renowned performers on
the violin. The violin in its advent to India was a direct import from the
European make by way of its shape but differed in execution and presentation, adapting
itself to the style of presentation in Indian music.
The formidable role of Violin in Indian Music:
The violin with special reference to South Indian music had its early beginnings when it
was used as a mere melodic support in Harikatha performances. Certain
musical passages sung by the main exponent were reproduced on the violin for the sake
of effects. Still later, violin figured in devotional music concerts where
musical lyrics and songs along figured. Later came the 'accompanying role' of the
violin to the main singer. It is at this juncture, when classical vocal concerts
formidable portion in the 'classical' stage of Carnatic music concert. Slowly, the violin
emerged as the only best possible melodic support. In spite of the experimental usage of flute,
vina and some other instruments, the violin as of today has emerged as the best possible
accompaniment owing to its capacity for continuity and to reproduce any sound, adaptability and its
pure support in maintaining the stability
of a musical concert.
Related links: Other
articles from the Chembur Conference