- The main piece: Carnatic music
“So, Carnatic music is like a type of Indian classical music. I guess we have a lot of classical like music and dance things. It’s probably super ancient too. There’s two types of classical Indian music, Carnatic and Hindustani, I think? So for Carnatic, it’s actually pretty similar to whatever Western music is called. Like you know how you guys have like do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do? Or the middle C based chord thing. So in Carnatic music, the scale goes “sa-re-ga-ma-pa-da-ni-sa.” And you have this thing called a Shruthi box, which plays like “sa-pa-sa” over and over. And that helps you find your pitch and then you sing along with that. And like songs, you first learn them by singing the notes, and then you replace the notes like “sa-ga-re-ma” with lyrics or words like “rara venu” which means come come cowherd.
- Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Etc.
“I used to sing along with a lot of Bollywood songs in our car, so my parents signed me up for classical Indian singing lessons. I learned it from this older Indian lady who actually lived in my neighborhood, so for a few years, I would walk over with my Shruthi box and my singing books and I would have to audiotape myself. I hated practicing. But in the end, I kinda miss singing.”
- The context of the performance
“I learned classical Indian dance around the same time. Like, I started dance when I was 5 and then singing probably when I was like 8. So I guess it taught me about, like… India? Yeah.”
- Finally, your thoughts about the piece
While there are many folk disciplines of dance in the world, there are not many specifically designated folk singing disciplines. The informant was entered into lessons for this folk style of singing after she used to sing more mainstream, authored songs in the car. This shows that the more mainstream songs may have reminded the informant’s parents of their Indian and Pakistani cultural singing tradition, leading them to sign their daughter up for classes to learn the original singing style which the mainstream “folk music” was derived from. This piece also shows the idea that teaching young children the older folk music traditions of the culture allows them to learn and connect more to that culture.
- Informant Details
The informant is an 18 year old Indian and Pakistani American female who grew up in the United States, but moved a lot as a child. While she didn’t feel close to her parents, she met her childhood best friends through local Pakistani and Indian cultural lessons such as dance classes and singing lessons, and prizes her memories of those classes.