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Thread: Indian syllabic counting - konakkol

  1. #1
    Registered User Mario Abbagliati's Avatar
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    Indian syllabic counting - konakkol

    Hi guys,

    Does anyone have any knowledge about the indian syllabic counting known as konakkol? There's a book by the irish bass player Ronan Guilfoyle called Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation where he talks about it and it looks like a great method to learn anything to do with rhythm (http://www.ronanguilfoyle.com/store/...crc_main.html). Also in Rick Peckham's web there is an article about it (http://www.rickpeckham.com/pdf/rhyth..._practice.pdf).

    A few weeks ago I went to a concert by Glen Velez and Lori Cotler where they did extensive use of it (www.glenvelez.com).

    I would like to get to know more about it.

    Does anyone recomend good books about rhythm?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    www.jakehanlon.com Jakeweiser's Avatar
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    It's a really interesting system that I intend to take a class in either this Fall or next. They have Rhythmic Scales like we have melodic ones. While it follows a similar context it is all about subdivision and super imposition of these ideas.

    Students of I think Northern Indian music (might be south, i don't know) study without drums for a long time until they master the spoken words of these rhythms. It is extremely practical. I have a video of John McLaughlin with Shakti where the two percussionists trade phrases in "rhythmic scat" that is out of this word in terms of bad assness.

    Here is an interesting and informative sight to practice rhythm using this ideology.

    http://music.calarts.edu/~snakes/art...mnpractice.htm
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  3. #3

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    I'd love to get some of the basic basics of this down myself - one thing to keep in mind is that rhythms are also understood as melodies in N. Indian music. (can't say for sure about S. Indian music, though my assumption is that the concept is similar - but I'm very ignorant in these areas in general!)

  4. #4
    Registered User Mario Abbagliati's Avatar
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    Thanks Jake.

    The rhythm book by Guilfoyle has some cool ways of approaching odd time signatures with syllabic counting and a great chapter on metric modulation. By far the most natural approach to complex rhythms I've seen. However I would like to learn it from the source to have a clear picture because I feel I'm just scratching the surface.

  5. #5
    Registered User Mario Abbagliati's Avatar
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    I believe it's south indian, a tradition called Carnatic. The north indian is Hindustani.

  6. #6

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    Yes - they play a large, double-headed drum in the north called a pakhawaj. In Carnatic music, they play a very similar instrument called mridangam [sp?]. Also a small frame drum (about 5" across) called a kanjira. Plus all the other drums/miscellanous percussion instruments that are played in both regions. (Ghatam, tabla .... the list goes on and on.)

    You can get some instructional material on Carnatic percussion on the Cooperman site. (Though the techniques are adapted for non-Indian instruments, for the most part.) http://www.cooperman.com/handdrums/handdrums.htm

    Mario, I think you're right about "konakkol" being a South Indian word. but in N. India, they do something very similar. Velez has worked with a number of S. Indians, which is probably where he learned it.

  7. #7
    Compose /Arranger / Jazz Prod. Phil Kelly's Avatar
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    From my sketchy understanding of Indian
    musical disciplines, they have as part of their tradition the concept of "singing" a rhythm prior to playing it -thereby internalizing it to some degree.

    As a point of clarification, you are referring to the "Tak-a -dini" system, correct?


    ta-ka = group of 2
    ta -ki -ta = group of 3
    ta-ka-di-ni = group of 4
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  8. #8

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    Phil, that's the North Indian system you've mentioned - using syllables to indicate different sounds/pitches and strokes. "Ta," "ka" and "din" (et. al.) indicate specific strokes made by specific fingers and/or parts of fingers. Maybe you're thinking of Arabic syllabic notation? (Which can also be sung, and often is, though it's far less complex than either its N. or S. Indian counterparts.)

    Konnakol seems to be a separate art, a kind of vocal percussion, based on the syllables that South Indian classical musicians learn as part of their training.

    Either way, people from both North and South Indian traditions describe these sequences as being melodic as well as rhythmic. Must say I agree.

    And boy, do I ever sound pedantic! [ Rolls eyes at self...]

  9. #9
    Compose /Arranger / Jazz Prod. Phil Kelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clave
    Phil, that's the North Indian system you've mentioned - using syllables to indicate different sounds/pitches and strokes. "Ta," "ka" and "din" (et. al.) indicate specific strokes made by specific fingers and/or parts of fingers. [ Rolls eyes at self...]
    I stand corrected -because the abbreviated explanation I got was from a pretty decent tabla player who had studied with a master in India -but I wasn't sure which tradition the system referred to.
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  10. #10

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    I didn't know the difference until i read Mario's posts and did a lot of Googling, so we're in the same boat, Phil.

    the only thing I knew for sure is that tabla and pakhawaj [sp?] players did this, and that's N. Indian.

    it's confusing, believe me!

  11. #11
    Jonny Johansson jass5188's Avatar
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    I think pakhavaj is a South Indian (Carnatic) drum, tabla is North Indian (Hindustani).
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  12. #12

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    You're prettly close - pakhawaj is N. Indian, mridangam is S. Indian (Carnatic). Tabla is N. Indian.

    http://chandrakantha.com/tablasite/a...s/mridanga.htm

    http://chandrakantha.com/articles/in.../pakhawaj.html

    Pakhawaj is essentially a north Indian version of the mridangam and is the most common north Indian representative of the class of barrel shaped drums known as mridang. It was once common throughout north India, but in the last few generations tabla has usurped its position of importance. It has a right head which is identical to tabla except somewhat larger. The left head is similar to the tabla bayan except that there is a temporary application of flour and water instead of the black permanent spot. It is laced with rawhide and has tuning blocks placed between the straps and shell.
    here's a brief dicitionary of Indian percussion instruments: http://www.surdhwani.com/ins_avan.html

    See also this man's instrument list (includes konnakol): http://home.planet.nl/~pesch082/htmlpag/E/e04.html

    Note from link number 2:

    Pakhawaj compositions are passed down from generation to generation. Like the tabla, they are taught by a series of mnemonic syllables known as bol. There are major differences between the tabla bols and the pakhawaj bols. This is often confusing to musicians who wish to play pakhawaj compositions on the tabla.
    Phil Kelly was talking about tabla bols above.

    Pics - 1st is pakhawaj, 2nd is mridangam:





    here's a mridangam with a clay body (I think; not 100% sure) - also might be N Indian drums called khols; see rnx's post below:



    (PS: the only reason that I know anything about this at all - I used to work in a music store that stocked Indian percussion instruments, also sitars and tambouras.)

  13. #13
    Registered User
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    I think the last pic might be of 2 "khols", used extensively in Bengal and other north east parts of India. Used a lot for "kirtan"- a religious song type.

  14. #14

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    I'm thinking you'r right there, rnx! Thanks for the call - I edited that post accordingly.

    There are so many percussion instruments used in India... I find it very hard to keep them all straight, and am sure I've got the wrong names in more than one case. (not necessarily here, but in my head!)

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