Since October 2001, a new project is running in
the rooms of the Mohanam Cultural Centre which increasingly draws the
interest of musicians and other parties interested in music. 'Mohanam
Crafts' is the name of an interesting movement resulting from the collaboration
between some young Mohanam team members and Aurelio of Auroville's Village
Action Group: they are inventing -and building- different kinds of instruments
from tongue-drums to shakers, from string boxes to xylophones and even
The art of instrument making
This art goes back to the beginning of our human culture, and it's interesting to wonder whether the first primitive bow was actually used for hunting or playing music! The history of musical instruments reflects the evolution of the human species: from archaic instruments like a simple pair of sticks, bones or stones, through the finely crafted string instruments in the classical periods to the most sophisticated high-tech electronic sound studios of today.
The last century saw a rapid growth of new inventions of musical instruments, together with the reintegration of ancient and primitive 'sound-makers' into the field of education, therapy and music production. This is another sign of the unfolding of a global culture, a synthesis where basic elements and universal principles of music are re-discovered and applied as a unified human expression of beauty and harmony.
Direct access to the joy of music
The Craft section of Mohanam Cultural Centre wants to reflect this trend and may possibly be one of the few places on the Indian subcontinent experimenting in the field of creating new musical instruments. Its focus lies on instruments that should be accessible to everybody, independent of talent or predisposition, directly bringing the joy of music into one's hands and heart.
How it came about..
Kartik and Shivanesan of the Mohanam Crafts team initially had training and work experience in house painting and carpentry. Having participated in several programmes with Aurelio - an innovative musician, dancer, instrument maker and educationalist living in Auroville - they maintained and repaired some of the latter's percussion instruments from various parts of the world. They showed a great talent in working with the instruments and had a keen interest to build some of these instruments themselves.
Bamboo as ground material
In spite of difficulties of finding suitable materials,
learning to work with those and using only primitive tools, they got
the knack of it very quickly and soon learned the 'art of tuning'. It
didn't take long for them to then start designing their own 'sound-creations'
using bamboo as ground material, like for the bars of a new kind of
xylophone, for shakers or even for drums.
Exploration with ever-new discoveries
Mohanam Crafts sees itself as an ongoing exploration with ever-new discoveries, and hopefully many more new musical instruments will appear as an expression of a youthful contemporary culture based on the gifts and values of the ancient traditions.
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