Profile 'Applications of Karnatic Rhythm to Contemporary Music'

The expansion of rhythmical possibilities has been one of the cornerstones of musical developments in the last hundred years, whether through western development or through the borrowing from non-western traditions. Most classical performers, whether in orchestral or ensemble situations, will have to face a piece by Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Ligeti, Messiaen, Varèse or Xenakis, to mention just a few well-known composers. 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. 

20th and 21st centuries music demands 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. The master's profile ‘Applications of Karnatic Rhythm to Contemporary 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.

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. 

This master's profile is based on the 4-year programme ‘Advanced Rhythm’  taught at the Conservatory 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 
  2. Composers 

Programme Details

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 master's 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.
  • The option of following as well regular lessons of groups or ensembles of ‘Advanced Rhythm’ different to the background of the student.

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

Before or during the second 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 six weeks in order to attain the ‘Indian’ view on the elements of the programme. The student needs to choose a period of the year in which he would miss a maximum of three weeks of lessons in Amsterdam (either in the summer between the first and second years, or before and after Christmas of the second year seem to be the most appropriate). This could be one of the possibilities of the individual credits component.
The students need to find their own financial resources if they would like to travel to India and take lessons.