Rrucha Bapat and Vinayak Astekar
Indian classical music has a rich and ancient history, with origins going back to 8000 or 9000 B.C., and continues to evolve and influence modern Indian culture. Two Louisvillians, singer Rrucha Bapat and tabla player Vinayak Astekar, performed some examples for a spring 2005 Mixed Media.
Rrucha grew up in Bombay and started her studies in Indian classical music at the age of 7. She eventually completed the highest level of training (Visharad) and has won many awards at state and national competitions in India. She also has a bachelors degree in psychology from Bombay University and completed her masters in classical music there in 2004. Her husband, Ashutosh Bapat, is a cardiology fellow at the University of Louisville.
Vinayak has a masters degree and a Master of Philosophy in applied electronics. He has studied the tabla, a traditional Indian percussion instrument, privately for several years.
Indian classical music has developed in two main styles based on geographic and linguistic differences. The Hindustani style is prevalent in northern and western India, while the Carnatic style is most common in southern India. The Hindustani form can also be divided into different schools of thought called gharanas, named for the major cities in which they were developed: Agra, Gwalior, Jaipur, Delhi, etc. Each gharana has very specific rules about composition and the style and tempo of singing. The seven basic notes, or sur, are sa re ga ma pa dha ni—analogous to the Western do re mi fa sol la ti. These basic notes are arranged in multiple defined structures called ragas.
Indian composers have created thousands of such ragas, with innumerable compositions, called khayals (thoughts), within each raga. The same basic notes and rules are followed by both the vocalist and the instrumentalist. Commonly used instruments have included percussion, wind (flute), string (even the guitar), and reed instruments, alone or in combination with a vocalist.
In the ancient era, training of students was based mainly in gurukuls, arrangements in which the student stayed with the teacher and his family for many years. This tradition and culture is continued even in the current era, with the teacher or guru held in great respect bordering on worship.