Indian Carnatic music can be traced back over 5,000 years of oral tradition passed down from Guru (teacher) to Sishya (student). The most important feature of this tradition is improvisation. Improvisation is done in two basic forms, Ragas (melodies) and Talas (cyclic rhythm). Indian Carnatic music also includes various unique instruments such as the Nadaswarm, Thavil, Veena, Mridangam, Ghatam, and Kanjira. Most notable of these is the Veena, or violin, which plays a pivotal position in the region and culture. The goddess of knowledge, Maa Saraswathi, is shown playing the Veena and virtually every house is adorned with an instrument as a representation of godliness. Even in secular spaces, musical performance is considered an esteemed and lucrative profession
Master Artist: Ganesh Rajagopalan (Bellevue)
Ganesh is a performer, composer and teacher with vast experience touring the globe for many decades. He is considered among the best Carnatic violin players for his tonal excellence and creative genius. Born into a musical household, Ganesh has extensive experience teaching and spreading the unique technique of Gamakan that is specific to Carnatic music. In 2016, he became the musical director of the Eswara School of Arts which was established as the premier institution for Carnatic music. Last year, he had the opportunity to teach an ensemble class at the University of Washington.
“I believe music is the highest art and, to those who understand, is the highest worship. Music is a universal language and it can unite everyone beyond the boundaries of culture, language, [or] religion.”
Apprentice: Aakarsh Dhilip (Renton)
Aakarsh has refined his violin-playing in the Carnatic tradition over the past eight years. He has a great appreciation for the creativity and discipline involved in this art form. Last year, Aakarsh enrolled in Ganesh’s classes for advanced training in bowing techniques, creative melodic patterns, and instrument-specific improvisation. With this apprenticeship, he plans to showcase his talents through performances and concerts while continuing to pass down this sacred tradition.
“I feel that learning Carnatic violin will enable me to share my knowledge about this art with others, ensuring that what I have learned does not end with me.”