Striking new notes -V. RAMNARAYAN Fusion in music involving Indian classical together with other forms, mainly from the West, has been a controversial subject in the music community over the years. Traditionalists may not appreciate or approve these collaborative efforts by musicians from different cultures inspired by the high quality of the music adhering to idioms other than their own, while young listeners embrace such experiments more readily, as we have seen in recent years at The Hindu Friday Review November Fest. To many of them, it is their first step towards appreciation of our classical and semi-classical music, even if they were first drawn to fusion by the presence of their favourite pop, rock or jazz idols. It is not known how many of them go beyond the first step to become true rasika-s of classical music. Similar experiments in dance have probably faced less criticism for a variety of reasons. One possible explanation could be that many of these collaborations have been among diverse but Indian forms with many similarities, that too by outstanding artists of obviously comparable merit. International encounters between leading artists are also sometimes of acceptable quality. Dancers Alarmel Valli and Madhavi Mudgal have combined effectively, while Anita Ratnam has extended her collaborative work beyond Indian borders. Collaborative works by Astad Deboo, Aditi Mangaldas, Geeta Chandran, Prakriti and Bharat Sharma, Chitra Sundaram, Lata Pada, Shobana Jeyasingh, and Jayachandran, to name a few, are well known. We learn that in music, the earliest fusion efforts began in the US, where jazz and rock and even classical music combined to capture the imagination of serious listeners in search of novel experiences. We also know that the late Robert E. Brown, who came to Chennai more than four decades ago to learn mridanga, established the ethnomusicology programme at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, U.S.A. He called what was taught there world music, the first time the description was used. Shakti and the Mahavishnu orchestra were successful fusion endeavours involving top musicians from the Carnatic and Hindustani tradition — L. Shankar, L. Subramaniam, T.H. Vinayakram, Zakir Hussain and so on. In later years, Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan have been in the forefront of collaborative efforts with Western musicians too. Chitraveena Ravikiran has been involved in his own brand of experimentation with his Melharmony. T.V. Gopalakrishnan, Kadri Gopalnath, and U. Shrinivas are among our leading musicians to take part in experimental music.
Purnima Sen Feminine face of Agra vocalism -DEEPAK S. RAJA Purnima Sen (born: 1937) is amongst the very few ladies to have made a mark as exponents of the Agra gharana. She holds a first degree in Anthropology from Hunter College, New York, occupies the top grade rating as a performer on All India Radio, enjoys a respected presence on the concert platform, has released four CDs, and divides her time between music, and caring for a family of successful legal and business professionals. In early youth, Purnima studied Western classical violin in New York, and left her teachers lamenting by deciding to return to India to pursue Hindustani music. By Indian standards, her grooming started late. She made up for it, however, by acquiring some of the best available guru-s from the Agra and Atrauli lineages, and pursuing her passion with tenacity. During this tutelage spanning almost three decades, she absorbed every facet of Agra vocalism, internalised the principles of music-making enshrined in it, and adapted it to her own voice and disposition.