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.