Thursday, 24 January 2013

Queen of Instrument, Violin

The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and Cello.

In Europe, the violin can be traced back to the 9th century, with its origin possibly in Asia. Not less than 450 years were required to bring it to its present form, representative of the experience acquired throughout the centuries by the makers of stringed instruments.
The primitive form of the stringed instruments is the musical bow, an arched stick held by a taut string tied to its two ends. The string is divided by a loop or bridge. In order to enhance its resonance, the primitive bow was held before the mouth. In the more evolved forms, resonance enhancers included coconut, calabash (a hollowed out, dried gourd generally used as a recipient), tortoise shells, wooden boxes or pig bladders that were thrust tightly between the strings and the bow.
In the manufacture of stringed instruments, TWO ORIGINAL FORMS were already present in classical antiquity: the polygonal drum of the zither and the rounded sound-box of the lyre, carved so as to imitate a tortoise shell, and used, apparently, as the first resonance device. This distinction in form was accompanied by a distinction in usage. The instrument with the polygonal drum, the more noble of the two, was used exclusively for serious music and for accompanying religious or lyric song; as for the lyre, it was a popular instrument used in feasting.
The origin of stringed instruments played by rubbing the strings is linked to the appearance of the bow. The more ancient stringed instruments were played by plucking the strings with the fingers. Perhaps the bow was at first a simple stick before the hair-bow was adopted. As there is no trace of a bow instrument in classical antiquity, it is freely admitted that the bow was imported from Asia by the Arabs or the Nordic tribes. But whether the evolution occurred in northern Europe, the Near East, India or Central Asia remains a mystery... The bow may have appeared in various places at the same time, as did several major discoveries in the history of mankind!...
As from the 11th century we also find in Europe the TWO MAJOR TYPES of bow instruments: first, the instruments with a pear-shaped or pyriform resonance box, no distinct neck, no pegs, and a flat belly; second the flat-bodied, oval or elliptic instruments, whose only slightly arched body was connected to the generally flat back by ribs. These instruments had a distinct neck (vielle of the Middle Ages - Not to be confused with hurdy-gurdy, "vielle à roue").
The Ravanastron (this instrument is said to have belonged to a sovereign of India 5000 years before Christ), the Rabab or Rebab (very ancient, it was played in Persia, in Arabia and in North Africa), the Rebec (the rubebe or rebel or rebec was brought to southern Europe in the Middle Ages by Muslim merchants and artists)... and many other more or less rudimentary instruments dating back to ancient times are considered to be interesting - although distant - precursors of the violin.

The North African rebab (centre, with inlaid bow) gave birth, in Europe, to the pear-shaped (or pyriform) rebec. The more ancient type has round sound holes (front, left); later the sound holes took the form of an f (behind, left). The ribbed vielle (right) represented, with the rebec, the second major mediaeval type of instrument. The four strings and the f-holes were forerunners of the future violin.
In the Middle Ages in Europe, as from the 11th century, we can find the vielle and the rote (rotta), a simple reproduction of the ancient zither: in order to use it as a bow instrument and produce various sounds by shortening the strings, a fingerboard was placed between the sound-box and the upper transversal bar of the zither.
In the 10th and 11th centuries the rote was widely used in all of central Europe, as testified by iconography. It was superseded by the vielle in the 12th century.
Already quite early on, small instruments were played by holding against the left shoulder or the breast and not only on the knees!
As from the 12th century there appeared a slightly more deeply cut-out form similar to the modern guitar and representing the last phase of the evolution of the vielle. This instrument was already predominant during the Middle Ages, probably because it was easy to handle, it had a vast sound range, and all the notes of the scale could be played relatively easily.

The number of strings soon grew from one or two to three or four. As early as the beginning of the 11th century the classical form of the five-stringed vielle came into being and remained until the 16th century. Little by little ribs were introduced to facilitate the use of the bow; the plaque to which the strings were fitted, characteristic of the plucked stringed instruments, was replaced by a separate tailpiece and bridge, more appropriate for bowed instruments. Thus gradually the transition was made from the stringed instrument of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance viol, equipped at first with a round opening that was eventually transformed into two crescent-shaped sound holes.
Following a series of combinations of the two primitive types, three other families of instruments appeared before 1500: the viola da gamba (viol held on or between the player’s knees), the lira da braccio (played with a bow) and the viola da braccio (held against the shoulder). It is from the viola da braccio that the VIOLIN evolved.
The viola da braccio resulted from reducing the number of strings of the vielle to three or four, adopting the pegbox and the lateral pegs of the rebec as well as the tuning in fifths, which is most convenient for small arm instruments as it allows the use of four fingers, thus increasing both the range and the manoeuvrability. It should be noted that the ribs are much lower than in the viola da gamba, and the cut-out becomes increasingly marked. As for the two sound holes, which at the beginning were C or crescent-shaped, they soon adopted the form of an ƒ as in the modern violin.
Thus, with the passing of the centuries, the violin, properly speaking, took form. As we have seen, the origins of the violin are several and varied; each of its parts is the outcome of a more or less complex evolutionary process whose beginnings are often difficult to determine; each of its parts, therefore, has its own history. An instrument with a rather chaotic family tree, the violin is an entity encompassing many destinies in a single instrument...
Importance of violin in music:

Since the Baroque era the violin (Baroque violin) has been one of the most important of all instruments in classical music, for several reasons. The tone of the violin stands out above other instruments, making it appropriate for playing a melody line. In the hands of a good player, the violin is extremely agile, and can execute rapid and difficult sequences of notes. Indeed, the violin seems to lend itself to virtuosity more than any other instrument (its only possible rival is the piano), and top violinists have amazed their audiences with their skill since the 17th century.

The violin is also considered a very expressive instrument, which is often felt to approximate the human voice. This may be due to the possibility of vibrato and of slight expressive adjustments in pitch and timbre. Many leading composers have contributed to the violin concerto and violin sonata repertories.

Playing the Violin - Importance and Benefits:

Considered as the most powerful musical instrument that could call an army to stand down, the violin produces a soothing a relaxing sound every time it is played. You will feel the intensified aura of the music waives getting into your soul. Here are some insights that will give the violin more admiration.

Unlike other musical instruments, the violin is something we love to listen to even if we don't understand how it is played. More than a hobby, violinist or the people playing the violin have a deep sense of passion towards playing their instrument. You can feel the connection between the violin and its musician. It is undeniably soothing and relaxing; not only to the audio sensory but most importantly to the mental relaxation and profound calmness of the spirit.
A student can capitalize on his or her willingness to start learning the stages of violin. Once learned, the craft can be mastered through rigorous and consistent practice.
Apart from playing solo in a small concert or occasion, the objective of every violinist is to be part of a great orchestra that will collectively produce great opera.

The music that the violin produces is indeed captivating to its listeners. Spectators will always stop to lend their ear and heart to the music it creates. It helps one to express creative aura that soothes another's mood. It is important to explore the imagination when the violin is played. It seems to take you to a world beyond reality. It helps you connect to nature and its wonderful components.

Depending on the mood of the audience, the power of the sound the violin creates can exponentially multiply to create the spirit of calmness and harmony. The violin is now being used to help patients of traumatic experiences. It is now considered a tool of music therapy. It is believed to have an impacting energy to the patient. It brings the patient to a different dimension that makes him forget past negative experience with the goal of moving forward. It encourages god aura and optimism in the patient's mind and soul. This is the best benefit that violin has provided us. Be mesmerize with the elegant and empowering sound it creates.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Dance is a type of art that generally involves movement of the body, often rhythmic and to music. It is performed in many cultures as a form of emotional expression, social interaction, or exercise, in a spiritual or performance setting, and is sometimes used to express ideas or tell a story. Dance may also be regarded as a form of nonverbal communication.

Why to learn dance?

Probably the most important question a beginner or potential dancer should ask themselves, is why learn to dance?

We aren’t talking about why you should learn to dance, but rather why do you want to learn to dance.  What do you hope to do with your dance skills once you have them?

At first this might seem like a strange question but the answer will have a profound impact on your journey into the dance world.

There are many reasons why people learn to dance. The reasons we most commonly hear from our students  are :

  •          Fitness
  •          Weddings, parties, anything
  •          Club Dancing
  •          Competition and Medals
  •          Performing
  •          Artistic Expression
  •          Love of Dance

is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dances, originated from Northern India, India. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. 
It is also synonymous with the community of artists known as Kathakas whose hereditary profession it was to narrate history while entertaining. With dance, music and mime these storytellers of ancient India would bring to life the great scriptures and epic so ancient times, especially the great Indian epics - the Mahabharata and the Ramayana - and the Puranas of Sanskrit literature. 

From its early form as a devotional expression dedicated to the Hindu gods, Kathak gradually moved out of the temples and into the courts of the rulers; the Hindu maharajas and the Muslim nawabs (kings). With these rulers' cultural wealth and preoccupation with lavish entertainment, a class of dancing girls and courtesans emerged to entertain the palaces. Much later, during the mid-1800's, Kathak enjoyed a renaissance and gained prominence among the kings and zamindars (feudal overlords) not only as a form of entertainment, but as a classical art form.  

There are three major schools or gharanas of Kathak from which performers today generally draw their lineage: the gharanas of Jaipur, Lucknow and Benares (born in the courts of the Kachwaha Rajput kings, the Nawab of Oudh, and Varanasi respectively); there is also a less prominent (and later) Raigarh gharana which amalgamated technique from all three preceding gharanas but became famous for its own distinctive compositions.


Today, Kathak has regained its popularity after the period of decline during the rule of the British Empire (where it was frowned upon by Victorian administrators), and it is now one of the eight officially sanctioned classical dance forms of India. Kathak's current form is a synthesis of all the input it has had in the past: court and romantic aspects sit comfortably side-by-side with the temple and mythological/religious. The work of the Maharaj family of dancers (Acchan Maharaj, Shambhu Maharaj, Lachhu Maharaj and one of the great current dancers still alive today, Birju Maharaj) and his students including Saswati Sen have been very successful in spreading the popularity of Kathak. Another disciple of Acchan Maharaj is Sitara Devi, daughter of Sukhdev Maharaj of Banaras. Her lively, zestful and fiery performances have impressed many audiences. Shambhu Maharaj also trained Smt. Kumudini Lakhia, who, along with Birju Maharaj, has introduced the relative innovation of multi-person choreographies in Kathak, which was traditionally a solo dance form. She has gained a strong reputation for combining purely classical movements and style with distinctly contemporary use of space. Dr. Pandita Rohini Bhate from Pune, enriched Kathak repertoire creating a large corpus of dance compositions. Disciple of the most eminent Gurus of Lakhnau (Lachhu Maharaj) and Jaipur (Mohanrao Kalianpurlkar) she brought the best of both in her style. Her creation of several new Taals and her understanding of Layakari is also an immense contribution to Kathak. Rajashree Shirke, a disciple of Madhurita Sarang (who in turn is a disciple of Birju Maharaj), is playing a pioneer role in reviving the age-old of tradition of story telling in temples by Kathakars.

Lucknow Gharana
The Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance came into existence mainly in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah the ruler of Awadh in the early 19th century. It was in this period that the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak attained maturity and perfection. This was due to the pioneering efforts of Thakur Prasad Maharaj, the court dancer and guru of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and subsequently by his illustrious sons Bindadin Maharaj and Kalkadin Maharaj. Kalkadin Maharajji’s sons Achchan Maharaj, Lachu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj also contributed to the further development of this gharana style.
The Lucknow style or Kathak dance is characterized by graceful movements, elegance and natural poise with dance. Artistically designed dance compositions, emotive vocal compositions like thumris, dadras, horis along with abhinaya (expressional acting) and creative mprovisions are the hallmarks of this style. Presently, Pandit Briju Maharaj (son of Achchan Maharajji) is considered the chief representative of this gharana.

Why Learn Kathak Dance?

Dance is a great stress reliever. Kathak dance is particularly good because the movements and music flow to create a very peaceful atmosphere.
The emphasis on poses, expressions, and hand & body movement builds strength and can make your body look younger. It’s also a great way to lose weight and gain more energy. Studying Kathak will definitely add grace and confidence to your step. Another useful purpose for Kathak is at weddings and special events. Because it is a unique form of dance, it is particularly great to perform for such social occasions.