Sounds of India: Influences and Integration of Folk Melodies in Carnatic Music

Sruti, the India Music and Dance Society



Photo by Ram Narayanan.


Photo by Ram Narayanan.

Sruti presented two concerts that explored the influence of native and folk traditions upon Carnatic (South Indian classical) music. The first program, "Spirit—The Indian Music Experience," was presented at the Painted Bride Art Center and highlighted the creative integration of melodies from South India and the north western state of Rajasthan. Shashank Subrahmanyam, a well-known Carnatic flutist, played with Rajasthan's traditional Manganiyar folk musicians, who made their debut tour of the United States. This type of collaborative performance, which stepped outside of the traditional bounds of Indian classical music, was a first for Sruti. The second concert explored the influence of South Indian folk traditions on Carnatic music, and featured leading vocalist S. Sowmya and emerging vocalist Bharat Sundar. This pairing was also unique, as Carnatic duets usually occur between siblings or artists of similar status. The two artists performed solo in other American cities, but the Sruti concert, presented as part of Montgomery County Community College's Lively Arts Series, was their only collaborative endeavor. With these concerts, SRUTI became the first United States organization to showcase these types of experimental concerts, which have become increasingly popular in the world of Indian classical music.