Composers

The Karnatic rhythmical system offers paths to create music using rhythmical complexities in a very organic fashion, getting away from the highly-charged ‘intellectual approach’ that has possibly characterised much of the ‘new complexity’ approach to using rhythm. An important aspect of Karnatic rhythm is that it is a system in which the practice of methodology and the developmental possibilities of the same concept are inextricably linked. The notion of common denominator impregnates the structural architecture of each technique and its developmental possibilities.

This programme revolves around rhythmical devices/complexities derived from the theory of Karnatic music in order to use them within a western contemporary context. The final goal for the student is to achieve a higher degree of understanding of these concepts and its subsequent utilization in today's music and never to merely copy the Karnatic tradition. Combining the Karnatic concepts specified below with western concepts of orchestration, counterpoint and polyphony is ‘a must’ within the programme. The students are to apply their own aesthetics, style and background in combination with the techniques and concepts learnt.

The material focuses on the following points:

1) Theory of South Indian classical music
* Rhythmical complexities: Different types of tala (cycles) construction, all sort of polyrhythms, polypulses, irregular groupings, inner amalgamation, structural metrical modulations, polytalas and mathematical/rhythmical calculations and their relationship to structural development.
* Formal and structural concepts: developmental techniques, different types of forms. Usage of South-Indian geometrical concepts to apply on macro and micro-structures.

2) Practical exercises and homework based on the theory.

3) Extensive listening and analysis of recorded material.

The programme will comprise at least three modules each year. Depending on the depth and the degree of ‘transversality’ that the musician would like to acquire, there are four options. The three modules are:

1) A weekly individual meeting of 30 minutes*** in order to coach:
* the creation of three pieces with a duo, trio or quartet as line-up (7-8 min) between September and March.
Alternatively, the students could present their own idea or project, provided that the amount of work will at least equal the amount of work foreseen for the duos, trio or quartet.
* the creation of pieces of at least 20 minutes, for a final presentation in mid-June.

***Please note: Due to the format of the composition lessons (regular lessons finish at the end of February), composers, and those students taking composition lessons, will get 25 minutes extra a week for the coaching. Therefore, between September and February, the coaching will be 30 minutes a week, and between March and mid-June will be 55 minutes a week.

2) Attending weekly sessions of 90 minutes of the so-called ‘deepening sessions

3) Choosing one of the four following options:

Option 1

Participation in existing groups of the composition lessons (more information)

Option 2

* Participation in existing groups of the composition lessons
* Participation in existing ‘Contemporary music through non-western techniques’ groups of the so-called Reading Ensemble.

Following the ‘Reading ensemble’ will help the student to internalise the concepts seen in the composition class, but using only solkattu (rhythmical syllables - no instrument is needed unless the student so desires).

Option 3

* Participation in existing groups of the composition lessons
* Participation in existing ‘Contemporary music through non-western techniques’ groups of the so-called Improvisation Ensemble. For more information, please read the Improvisers description.

Alternatively the student can follow the Improvisation Ensembles, but only if the student is interested in using an instrument and has some previous experience in improvisation.

Option 4

* Participation in existing groups of the composition lessons
* Participation in existing ‘Contemporary music through non-western techniques’ groups of the so-called Improvisation Ensemble.
* Participation in existing ‘Contemporary music through non-western techniques’ groups of the so-called Reading Ensemble.

Please note: The options become increasingly flexible from 1 to 4.  Therefore, for example, the student’s project is the most personal in option 4.

Specific admission requirements for composers

1) Special interest in:
a) rhythmical complexities
b) usage of mathematics applied to structures and proportional concepts

2) Submission of at least three scores along with audio or video recordings.

First year completion requirements

1) Three compositions for different settings, ranging from duo to quartet, based on the material given, with a written analysis of how the Karnatic techniques were applied to these pieces.

2) Creation of at least 20 minutes of music for the annual final concert of the programme. The duration could vary depending on the line-up of the piece(s).

3) Transcription and analysis of 2 pieces or solos of Karnatic music.

At the end of the first year, the student is expected to have learnt the following topics:
* concept of cycle through the suladi tala system, and creation with talas of 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 beats
* blocks of polyrhtyhms with gati/jathi combinations
* developing of phrases in all gatis through rests and tie-overs
* gati bhedam as phrasing technique in itself and for polypulses as well
* two-layered sections of gati bhedam against the phrasing along the pulse
* creations of jathi bhedam sequences (of one or two cycles) and its various developmental techniques
* sama mukthays (of one or two cycles) and its possible developments
* short mukthays
* tree of gati bhedam
* rhythmical sangatis in any of its forms and applications
* developmental techniques like cell fragmentation, cell development, material recycling, non-retrogradable rhythms, five types of viloma and palindrome
* development of jathi bhedam sequences
* anuloma-pratiloma as a concept as well as all its developmental techniques
* six types of yati phrases

If the Reading Ensembles have been chosen, the student is expected to have learnt the additional topics:
* -hrasing with accuracy and feeling on all four gatis
* gati bhedam phrasing
* jathi bhedam as a source to control sequences of meter changes as well as phrases that don’t go with the beat, in addition to analysing the use of this technique on pieces that use these two concepts (i.e, The Rite of Spring, Ligeti’s Piano concerto, Quartet for the end of times)
* anuloma-pratiloma and its applications on pieces like Petrushka, or in various pieces by Elliot Carter.

If the Improvisation Ensembles have been chosen, the student is expected to have learnt the additional topics:
* concept of cycle through the suladi tala system, and creation with talas of 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 beats
* blocks of polyrhtyhms with gati/jathi combinations
* create Graphic Densities Chart for semi-improvised pieces
* phrasing with accuracy and feeling on all four gatis
* gati bhedam as phrasing technique in itself and for polypulses as well
* two-layered sections of gati bhedam against the phrasing along the pulse
* creations of jathi bhedam sequences (of one or two cycles) and different ways to improvise on them
* sama mukthays (of one or two cycles) and its possible developments
* short mukthays

Specific graduation requirements

1) Three compositions as per the first year completion requirements. However, the choice of line-ups in the second year is more free and the compositions could be for larger ensembles and longer in duration, therefore resulting in fewer works.

2) Final recital with no less than 40 minutes of music. Ca. 20 minutes should be new material written specifically for the final recital.

3) Portfolio with all the compositions written for the programme with a short analysis of how the concepts and techniques have been used in these pieces.

4) Transcription and analysis of two pieces or solos of Karnatic music.

At the end of the second year, the student is expected to have learnt the following topics:
* nadai bhedam as a source of polypulses through superimpositions
* tirmanas/tirmana-mukthays
* threefold mukthays
* yati mukthays
* compound mukthays
* palindromic mukthays
* sub-mukthays
* tirmana-compound mukthays
* double & triple mukthays
* mukthay combinations
* yatis prastara
* poruttam A
* entanglement and overlapping of different concepts into new ones without names
* mixed jathi nadai bhedam as a developmental concept

If the Reading Ensembles have been chosen, the student is expected to have learnt the additional topics:
* nadai bhedam as a technique to face more complex irregular groupings and its applications on a variety of pieces (Frank Zappa’s Black Page being a very important one)
* gatis 9, 11 and 13
* metrical modulations
* mixed jathi nadai bhedam

If the Improvisation Ensembles have been chosen, the student is expected to have learnt the additional topics
* nadai bhedam sequence and as the ‘real’ polypulse technique (with superimpositions
* two types of yati phrases
* three types of threefold mukthays
* three types of yati mukthays

Delen