View Full Version : "ASIAN MUSIC" a scholarly journal reviews IR's mus

22nd June 2007, 12:35 AM
[tscii:a6c6e8d926]pasting a part of the review here:

"If, however, one judges them as an attempt by a cultural outsider to master a foreign tradition, place his original stamp on it, and synthesize it with his own, “Singing Self ” and “Mozart I Love You” are considerably more sophisticated and convincing than many Western composers’ and artists’ attempts in reverse."

- reviewed by Katherine Butler Brown, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge[/tscii:a6c6e8d926]

22nd June 2007, 02:41 AM
andha "If, however" konjam uthaikkudhE...does it mean the lines prior to that are pretty critical? In any case, this looks like a very limited community "project muse" that has access to it (mostly universities)...

Is it possible to give the whole article here...may be in parts...

22nd June 2007, 10:12 PM
[tscii:eae2d6b34e]Here comes the entire review from "ASIAN MUSIC", Journal of the Society for Asian Music Volume 38, Number 1 Winter/Spring 2007, PP 153-155

Stephen Slawek, Editor
Randal Baier, Book Review Editor
David Harnish, Recording Review Editor

Ilaiyaraaja. How to Name It? Oriental Records, New York, ORI/AAMS CD 115, 275Rs, n.d.
Ilaiyaraaja with Hariprasad Chaurasia. Nothing but Wind. Oriental Records,New York, ORI CD 121, 275Rs, n.d.

"Ilaiyaraaja is a prolific South Indian film composer (5000 songs and more than 840 films), who, according to his website, was also the “first” Asian to compose
a symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London. These two albums represent the pinnacle so far of his attempts to create a dialogue between Carnatic and Western classical music. The results are interesting, although
sometimes unsuccessful, and it is clear from the occasional track deriving its impetus from a filmi aesthetic that Ilaiyaraaja must be a film composer of considerable
talent, a master of Western popular styles, and clearly deserving of the film- related awards heaped upon him by various Indian institutions. Perhaps, however, he should stick with the milieu he knows best."

"Ilaiyaraaja is clearly a devoted fan of Bach, Mozart, and the baroque and classical styles in general, with titles like “I Met Bach In My House” and “Mozart I Love You” clearly indicating the highly specific directions of his inspiration. Of the two albums, How to Name It? is the more accomplished and consistent. The title track superimposes Indian solo instruments (violin, sitar) playing Carnatic
ragams over baroque harmonies and structure played by a string orchestra with occasional Carnatic percussion, a combination that produces an often effective
synthesis of baroque and Carnatic styles, and which is repre sentative of most tracks on the album. A few tracks have a more obviously filmi quality such as “Chamber Welcomes Thiagaraja” and “Mad Mod Mood Fugue,” which is not,
in fact, an Indian-inflected baroque fugue, but combines Carnatic violin with funk in a style reminiscent of the highly successful fusion achieved on the 2004
film soundtrack Morning Raga. Perhaps the best track on the album is “(I Met Bach in My House) And We Had a Talk” in which a violinist playing a Carnatic ragam (beginning with a stunning alapanam) duets with another violinist playing
the famous Prelude from the Bach E Major Partita, a dialogue one could imagine might even have occurred had those two great composers, Bach and Thyagaraja, ever met."

"Nothing but Wind is an altogether patchier affair. It seems to be held together stylistically by little more than the fact that the flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia plays on all the tracks. The first two tracks, “Singing Self” and “Mozart I Love You,” both non-ironic homages to baroque and classical style, are almost impossible to review objectively. If one judges them according to the standards of Western art music, at their most coherent, they roughly achieve the level of
an undergraduate composition exercise, and elsewhere are marred by basic errors in harmonization and clunky transitions between sections. If, however, one judges them as an attempt by a cultural outsider to master a foreign tradition, place his original stamp on it, and synthesize it with his own, “Singing Self ” and “Mozart I Love You” are considerably more sophisticated and convincing than many Western composers’ and artists’ attempts in reverse. Unfortunately, Ilaiyaraaja’s efforts here are sullied by some truly bad orchestral string playing: out of tune, rhythmically inaccurate, with poor ensemble, and a fuzzy, muffled tone-quality that may be due to poor-quality instruments. The absolute low point of the album, the third track “Song of Soul,” is Indian restaurant muzak of the worst possible kind, complete with ghastly passages of synthesized male falsetto, hurling the listener unwillingly into a world of flock wallpaper, plastic plants, and synthetic-red chicken tikka masala with chips. “Composers Breath” is an improvement, with some accomplished and melodic solo work by Chaurasia, but it nonetheless only occasionally rises above the kind of New Age blandness
that should be banished to alternative bookshops. The best one can say of the final track, “Nothing but Wind,” an unintentionally hilarious collage of electronic noises and synthesized Bach pastiche, is that unlike the rest of the album, it is at least stylistically consistent with “Song of Soul.” “Singing Self” and “Mozart I Love You” dwarf the rest of the album in their sophistication, and it is a shame
they have to share album space with such heroic failures. How to Name It? might appeal to serious students of South Indian fi lm music and is generally worth a listen, if only as a curiosity, but Nothing but Wind is perhaps best left in that bargain basement record bin."

Katherine Butler Brown
Corpus Christi College,
University of Cambridge.[/tscii:eae2d6b34e]

23rd June 2007, 02:06 AM
I am not sure of the credentials of the reviewer here. She(assuming it is Katherine the reviewer) does not even seem to understand that these are not typical western classical compositions and should not be reviewed as such. They fall into genre of fusion and requires a different knowledge level and skillset to review. also the use of words like carnatic and alaapanam make me wonder of her true identity. and to use a Indian resaturant analogy with use of words like muzak(what is this word? is it hindi mazak) for the soulful melody "song of soul" is absolutely stupid . She does not even know that composers breath has an Indian Raaga as the base( i forgot which one, somebody help me out here). Again i dont think she has the credentials to review this kind of album. she seems to have all the wrong kind of expectations from the album. The day she understands fusion fully then she can probably review the album. she is also probably not aware that IR is as or more accomplished in western classical music than she is or she thinks she is.Till then we dont need a brilliant piece of work be devalued by some one from a music college.

23rd June 2007, 02:54 AM

Dr Katherine Butler Brown
Lecturer & Widening Participation Officer

Tel: +44 (0)113 34 38218

BMus (QCM Griffith); MMus, PhD (SOAS, London); AMusA.

Katherine Brown

Research Interests

* South Asian art and popular musics c.1500-present, especially Hindustani music
* Ethnomusicology
* Cultural history of Mughal India (1526-1858)
* Music and Islam
* Gender and class
* Empire
* Interdisciplinary approaches to music studies

Before coming to Leeds, Katherine held a Research Fellowship at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge. A cultural historian and ethnomusicologist, her current work focuses on North Indian music in elite political, social, and cultural life under the Mughals (1526-1858). Her interests include relating music to issues of power, gender, love and sexuality, social class, physical space, and the body; musical stories in Indian narratives; patronage and musicianship; Sufism; the sociology of North Indian musicians and dancers; and developing anthropological and literary approaches to music history. She also has interests in British Asian vernacular musics, particularly female singers, and is beginning a new research project on music, new media and Muslim community identity in the UK and South Asia.

Katherine is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and was the 2003 recipient of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Charles Seeger Prize. Her prize-winning paper, ‘Did Aurangzeb Ban Music?’, is published in Modern Asian Studies (2007), and her publications appear in edited volumes, the British Journal for Ethnomusicology and Asian Music, among other places. She has been Guest Editor of a special issue of twentieth-century music on “The Social Liminality of Musicians”, and is on the Council of the Society for Ethnomusicology. In 2006 she was the initiator and principal organiser of the first National Graduate Conference for Ethnomusicology in Cambridge.


MUSI1020: Music in History and Culture (team taught)
MUSI1120: Study Skills (team taught)
MUSI1225: Understanding Popular Styles (team taught)
MUSI2025: Approaching the Analysis of Popular and World Music (team taught)
MUSI3721/2: Texts and Contexts: The Female Voice in South Asian Music
MUSI2721/2: Texts and Contexts: Indian Classical Music
MUSI3120: Minor Dissertation (team taught)
MUSI3140: Major Dissertation (team taught)
MUSI1812 Planet Pop
MUSI5060: Introduction to Musical Scholarship (team taught)
MUSI5430: Editing and Archival Studies (team taught)
MUSI5530: Issues in Contemporary Musicology (team taught)


“The social liminality of musicians: case studies from Mughal India and beyond,” twentieth-century music 3/1 (2007). (forthcoming)

“Did Aurangzeb ban music? Questions for the historiography of his reign,” Modern Asian Studies 41/1 (2007), pp. 77-121. (forthcoming)

“The origins and early development of khayal.” In J Bor, F Delvoye, J Harvey and E te Nijenhuis, eds. Essays on the history of North Indian music. New Delhi: Manohar. (forthcoming)

“If music be the food of love: masculinity and eroticism in the Mughal mehfil.” In Francesca Orsini, ed. Love in South Asia: a cultural history.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2006).

“Evidence of Indo-Persian musical synthesis? The tanbur and rudra vina in seventeenth-century Indo-Persian treatises,” Journal of the Indian Musicological Society 36-7 (2006), pp. 89-103.

“Dargah Quli Khan’s strange vision: Mughals, music, and the Muraqqa‘-i Dehli.” Occasional Papers Series. Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge University (2004).

“The that system of seventeenth-century North Indian ragas: a preliminary report on the treatises of Kamilkhani,” Asian Music 35/1 (2003/4), pp. 1-13.

“Reading Indian music: the interpretation of seventeenth-century European travel writing in the (re)construction of Indian music history,” British Journal of Ethnomusicology 9/2 (2000), pp. 1-34.

Reviews of books and recordings in Yearbook for Traditional Music, Asian Music, World of Music, Journal of Asian Studies.

Selected Guest Lectures and Conference Papers

“The social liminality of musicians: case studies from North India.” Department of Music, Princeton University, 2006.

“The libertine and the spectacle: contested masculinities and the bhand tamasha in eighteenth-century Delhi.” Society for Ethnomusicology, 2006.

“Did Aurangzeb ban music? Questions for the historiography of his reign.” Royal Asiatic Society, 2005.

“The Courtesan, a Tragedy: reality and rhetoric in Mughal historical narratives.” Music and Seduction Conference, University of Amsterdam, 2005.

“The Mughal street as spectacle: street performers in the Indo-Persian imagination (c.1680-1740).” British Association for South Asian Studies Conference, 2005.

“When theory makes no earthly sense: astrology, the body, and the North Indian ragas c.1650.” Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, 2004.

“Performing ‘Britishness’? Music and the question of British identity” panel discussant: “On being British: an outside-in perspective.” British Forum for Ethnomusicology Conference, 2004.

“Dargah Quli Khan’s strange vision: performers and patrons in the Muraqqa‘-i Dehli.” Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, 2003.

“Music, masculinity, and the Mughal mehfil.” Center for Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, 2003.

“For want of a horseshoe nail: an ethnomusicological paradigm for writing music history.” Royal Musical Association, 2003.

“History and censorship: did Aurangzeb ban music?” Society for Ethnomusicology, 2002.

“Historical methodologies in ethnomusicology.” Deparment of Music, New York University, 2001.[/tscii:0b5b6658e4]

23rd June 2007, 03:17 AM
Here comes the Joke.

Carnatic violin with funk in a style reminiscent of the "highly successful fusion achieved on the 2004 film soundtrack Morning Raga."

If the reviewer thinks just adding some percussion to the Carnatic Krithis can alone make a successful FUSION, then what IR has done is something much more and we have several people in our Country to do that kind of Fusion. Let the reviewer review only those Albums.

23rd June 2007, 03:44 AM
Well she seems more of a someone with interest in History and music with respect to Islam as well. I am not sure what ethnomusicologist means. If someone can explain that would be great. I think her works are all more of a literary kind and nothing in relation to actual composing. Her interest is also only Hindustani music it seems from what is listed. So i am not sure she even knows any carnatic ragas so that she can understand the kind of fusion IR was attempting in How to name it? To say that "chamber welcomes Thiagaraja" is of a filmy quality speaks of ignorance on her part of the carnatic music side. By the way what does she mean by filmy quality? I certainly did not find anything filmy about that piece given that i listen mostly to only film music. Her choice of words does not seem to reflect the quality which a music reviewer should have and leaves a lot to be desired.

Also do you guys know of any other reviews of these two albums.I have read one by Carl Townsend( who did the review before IR was invited to compose the symphony ). That was a very positive review if i can remember correctly. and i think he said Nothing but wind was a much more polished work than How to name it contrary to what this reviewer says.

23rd June 2007, 03:57 AM
rprasad - "composers breath" is based on Malkauns and then proceeds diatonically - methinks!

23rd June 2007, 03:59 AM
rprasad - given that we have quite a few fellow DFers with sufficient knowledge of carnatic music, it would be worthwhile emailing the reviewer about whatever reservations/ remonstrances we have about the reviews

26th June 2007, 12:15 AM
If any of you with musical knowledge have problems with her review, contact her and explain nicely. But let's not get overemotional because we are IR fans.

The author's publications are mostly about music as it relates to culture and history but she probably has quite a bit of musical knowledge. What the scope of her knowledge of Carnatic and Tamil film music is, I don't know.

28th June 2007, 12:49 PM
I'm not quite sure why do we look for appreciation from westeners since their level of comprehending the nuances of Indian Music is very minimal. If the reviewer doesn't understand the fact the composition is trying to project the harmony between the western scale and carnatic ragam, then there is no point in getting serious with the review. May be someone can point to the research article in Raja.com where they have explained the nuances of the composition and the deeper resonance of the fusion. Inspite of all her paprs published and all that, she literally threw egg on her own face by comparing Mornign Raga with How to Name it/Nothing but Wind which is just a shallow music popularized by the percussion-happy people.

It would be better if we don't waste in posting these crappy reviews and inciting people to retort. I'm sure we can lots of good reviews to discuss on.

7th July 2007, 03:29 AM
The plague of the incorrectly named songs on the Oriental CD strikes again. What the reviewer refers to as "Chamber Welcomes Thiagaraja" (as on the CD) is actually "You cannot be free" - it is the one based on panthuvarali ragam, starts with classical guitar and goes to jazz fusion (hence "filmi"?).
What is refered to as "Mad Mod Mood Fugue" is also a jazzy track, but its really atrocious to compare that to morning raaga. And of course it is not a fugue - cos its wrongly named on the CD. What is called "you cannot be free" on the CD is what must be named "Mad Mod Mood Fugue" (3 voices, 2 violins and a bass forming a fugue).
Check this for correct song name and description:
The reviewers attachment for the word "filmi", and fascination with "Morning raaga" makes the whole review sound weak. So its best taken with a pinch of salt.

As for the NBW part of the review, the sentence "If one judges them according to the standards of Western art music..." says it all. There is no way to get a decent view by starting from the wrong viewpoint. And I don't realize how, after listening to just the last 2 minutes of "composer's breath", anyone can call it "bland" - certainly not a serious listener. I do agree with "fuzzy, muffled tone quality". Wish the recording was better.

7th July 2007, 04:48 PM
As long as the music appeals to one's heart and mind, why take anyone else's opinion seriously about that particular piece of music...at the max, it is like another DFer's opinion:-))

Personally I never care about all these adjectives like "scholarly" "acclaimed" etc when it comes to reviewing art, unless the person reviewing himself /herself is a great performer in the same field...like Naushad's opinions on MSV/IR means much more to me than some university professor / PhD... (In science, technology and business it's a different matter where I greatly value the PhDs, again as long as they stick to facts, not presenting mere "theories" as facts - for e.g. evolution)...

9th July 2007, 08:20 PM
A mid-1980s composition copies or reminds of a mid-2000s composition.

Wow! Is that what we call IR's music has crossed years barrier?

It seems reviewers take it for granted that music composers like IR have time-machines.