Since Feb. 2003 this new unit in the Auroville Educational and Cultural Landscape is establishing itself in the former facilities of the Decauram carpentry in the Industrial Zone, and is trying to incorporate four aspects into its work:
- a vocational training opportunity for the youth of local villages - a technical and sociological research component (exploring this new field of research into' sound materials', bringing together Indian traditional methods and the know-how of a contemporary world music culture) - the production and marketing of musical instruments for income generation - a social outreach through sharing the acquired skills in village education BACKGROUND The art of instrument making 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: ITom 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 stomos 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.
The SV ARAM team 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.
We are working with 8 trainees, young unemployed youth ITom the village, who had been associated with the Mohanam Cultural Center in Sanjeevinagar, to explore and experiment with 'sound-materials' to create and develop new instruments which can be used in music education and play for children and adults alike.
Besides the craft aspect of this training the youth is also being introduced into administrative, organisational work and an educational involvement with children in the village on weekends and in summer camps and special programs.
The project aims at an independent and empowered self-management and asks the youth to be involved and take responsibility in all the different departments of such an undertaking.
The learning process which encompasses all aspects of the work is monitored and guided by selected resource people and teachers in the area of crafts, management, design, music and practise, cultural integration and development.
THE MATERIALS, D EP ARTMENTS AND TRAINEES
BAMBOO: is a readily available local material but needs to be treated and prepared through methods of water baths and smoking to make it durable and attractive. Vein is experim~mtin~ with a variety of percussion instruments being assisted and guided by the craft teacher.
FLUTES: Senthil developed a special talent for wind instruments and besides using bamboo he also likes to work with copper for unique overtone flutes. It takes some time to get the knack of [correct tuning, but is easier to practise on clay flutes, which are then fired at the local potter's.
WOOD WORKS and STRINGS: Shivanesan had learned and worked already as a carpenter and -Ie his skills are very helpful in the use of the old carpentry tools and machines. He is working on I Xylophones of different hard wood, fits them with resonators for enhanced sound and also is starting with first attempts in string instruments.
METALL: Gnanavel who had been working before and attended night school in another Auroville r unit takes up the work with metal bars and pipes and transforms them into beautiful sound-sources. I He is learning about a wide range of musical scales and tunings.
SINGING STONES: Karthik reflects on the magic of the sound of stones which takes hard labour rand deep concentration to effectively emerge from this densest matter of black granit from Rajastan 1 quarries. The result invites for an ancient and completely new sound experience.. .
DRUMS: Equally original is the work with skins from diverse sources and their preparations for drums Luckily Rajaram is helped by a knowledgeable student intern from abroad.
A fruitfulleaming process and mutual enrichment is strengthening the team approach in this work of finding new ways of expression, understanding and harmony in this emerging culture of global communication.
The selection brings a wide range of instruments, reflecting the evolution of human musical activity from a primal pair of simple wooden clap sticks to sophisticated multi-string resonators of contemporary design.
The emphasis lies in creating instruments which are easy to handle and otTer an immediate contact to one's inherent playfulness and creativity.
"XYLO-PHONE": this is a set of different sized hardwood blocks tuned in diverse musical scales (mostly pentatonic), which otTers a way for everybody to explore simple melodies and rhythmic patterns.
"METALLO-PHONE": Here the precisely tuned metal bars attract the ear of children and adult alike into the realm of clear, crystal-like sound.
"BAMBOO-PHONE": Bamboo has a natural affInity to sound making, from the rustling of its leaves to the cracking sound of its rapid growing. Here in a set of tuned bars it reveals the charm of a romantic, natural tonal quality.
"LITHO-PHONE": This archaic instrument-'singing stones'- using hard, polished black granite, invokes the spirit of another time and space, while like all the other instruments of this group can be played and enjoyed by everyone.
"ANANTAR": This is a string box with either 22 or 36 strings and with its rich harmonic resonance can be used as a drone instrument or enchants one with its harp like tonal spectrum.
"TONGUE-DRUMS": These wooden 'drums' belong to a recent development and design, based on the archaic signal and log drums of tribal cultures. The different models and sizes, utilizing a variety of local hardwood, otTer an easy entry into a tonal rhythmic play for everyone, and are liked by children, adults and professional musicians alike.
"BAMBOO-SLITDRUMS": In these varied forms of slit-and tongue drums the bamboo segment provides a natural resonator to the carefully cut tongues. Every par to the instrument gives a different sound when struck with selected mallets and sticks.
"BAMBOO-SCRAPER": Scrapers belong to the oldest found instruments and date back into the Stone Age. They produce a fascinating, very expressive sound and invite to playfully explore the unknown.
"BAMBOO-SHAKERS": Even if shakers and rattles where used mainly in magico-ritualistic contexts, they are just about the simplest and ideal rhythmic accompaniment-instruments, to join in with a smooth, flowing sound - according to the filling material and volume- in any musical event.
Often they offer the very first encounter for small children with the world of sound-production.
"CLAP-STICKS": These selected crafted hardwood sticks come in pairs and provide very useful educational and therapeutic instruments of utmost simplicity and richly varied application in any creative improvisation.
"WOODEN BELLS": wooden bells are found in all continents and had been used primarily for protecting herding- and domesticated animals (e.g. Camel-and Elephantbells). In this modem design with a handle they can be manipulate freely and add a very distinct clapping sound to any percussive play.
"WINDFLUTE": this modem designed flute is based on the harmonic principle of overtones and allows in an easy way a richly improvised play of pure quality.
"EARTH-SOUND": this hollow tube (fushioned in the style of an Australian Tribal Instrument) played with a specific lip.-and breath technique ('circular breathing') opens the path landscapes of primal sound.
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