Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

We had an Indian flute player (Carnatic style - from southern India) join our flute class last Monday. He had a big bag of bamboo flutes (all keyless and in all the various keys from "D" upwards).

It was amazing to listen to various Ragas and gain a little understanding of the style of playing and how the music is constructed. The scale (notes) is pretty much the same as our 2212221 and you kinda can play the flute like a familiar one. But when Praveen played - it was all half holing and sliding notes which seem to swirl. There were discernible grace notes but somehow the way they are placed sounds different to our equivalents.

None of our traditional ornamentation using cuts/taps/rolls. But lots of head movement to alter the angle of the breath and achieving a kind of glissando slide from note to note with no discernible "break" (bit like a Swanee whistle).

There is a Carnatic tune that is 100% definitely a derivative of the Rakes of Mallow which he played and was amazing to hear how alien yet familiar it sounded. An attempt on a keyed flute to accompany (key of E) meant using keys for sharps/flats - and highlighted WHY keyed flutes are peculiar when playing "non-standard" keys. Once the tune needs lots of keyed notes the distinctive ornamentation we "expect" in ITM becomes difficult or impossible - keys make certain notes binary on/off and ornamentation.

Anyway - a great evening and some ideas to ponder. Praveen is currently learning ITM and grappling with our jigs/reels and hornpipes - which I hope are just as peculiar and mystical to his ears as his is to ours. Great fun.

Re: Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

Great post. Thanks.

Re: Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

Here’s a wonderful performance that well illustrates what you are talking about - One tune interpreted with two different styles. The fellow’s name is Praveen, btw. Same guy?

I just love this!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5RC_NGWfAU

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Re: Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

If you don’t know him already, you should give a listen to Sylvain Barou. He’s a flute player from Brittany, who studied Indian classical music among other things, and I recall some interview where he talked about the massive influence this style of playing has had on his own style. One of his albums is streamable at https://sylvainbarou.bandcamp.com/

Re: Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

Thanks for the suggestion pierre_b - I’ve just downloaded his 2012 album on iTunes. Will give it a listen over the weekend.

@ailin - cool side-by-side. But when "my" Praveen played the contrast with ITM "style" was more profound and exciting. Apart from the control over the half (holed) notes and the ability to perfectly slide from one note/half note to another… it really made me reflect on the limitations of KEYED flutes for ITM and the subtelties offered by the keyless instrument (providing the techniques are well mastered)

Re: Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

A name to look out for is Fabrice De Graef from Paris but studying bansuri. Ive seen videos of him playing reels as well as Indian classical on a bansuri.
Can’t seem to locate the right video just now but there are a few on YouTube perhaps.

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Re: Indian flute playing - eyeopener (should that be ear-opener?)

Yes Fabrice stayed at my place with his daughter a Week or so . Wonderfull player , plays great trad! I learnt the technique he uses for ‘half holeing ‘ from him.