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Rediscovering an Indian musical tradition

  • Sumithra Vasudev
Wednesday 19 April 2017
Doors open at 7 PM
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Antiquities Museum)
Rapenburg 28

Rediscovering an Indian musical tradition- a journey from melody of the present to notation of the past

On April 19th, well-known Indian singer and scholar Sumithra Vasudev will give a unique lecture and singing performance at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Antiquities Museum), Rapenburg 28, Leiden. This event is organized by Leiden University’s Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA), Leiden University’s Classics Department and Sophia Aeterna (association of Leiden students of Classics). Doors open at 19:00; the lecture-performance will start at 19:30 h.

In Karnatak classical music, compositions occupy a significant place. As structural entities, they offer scope for the performer to improvise and interpret the melody. As melodic entities, they are seen as representing a particular musical period and context. Indian music traditions are generally aural and notation is only an aid to record a very basic structure of the melody.

Sumithra will describe some of the efforts made to preserve an Indian musical tradition through the notational versions of compositions that depicted it. One attempt to do so is found in the text Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (1905). There is a great contemporary interest in reviving this text, the notations, and through these, the lost musical tradition.

About the speaker/performer

Sumithra Vasudev is a Karṇāṭak Classical vocalist, and has been performing as a soloist in the field of Karṇāṭak Classical music for over 20 years. She is an A grade artiste of the All India Radio and regularly gives concerts in Chennai, other places in India, and abroad. She participates in many of the well-known Carnatic music festivals and has many thematic presentations and lecture demonstrations on various topics to her credit.
Sumithra holds a Master’s degree in Sanskrit Literature. Apart from her career as a singer she is also pursuing doctoral studies in Music from the Music Academy Research Centre, Music Academy, Chennai, affiliated with Tumkur University, Tumkur. This Spring, she is a Visiting Spinoza Researcher, affiliated with the Leiden Classics Department and with Leiden University’s Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA).

Free admission

Admission is free (contributions appreciated). This event will be of great interest to Classics students interested in the workings of oral traditions of song (Homer!), music students and all those interested in Indian musical culture.


RSVP Sophia Aeterna  before the 12th of April .


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