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Indian classical music touches The Cat Empire


New Delhi: The Cat Empire, Australian ska and jazz band has successfully created a position in the global scene. The lead vocalist and percussionist Felix Riebl recently said that he would ‘love’ to incorporate Indian classical music if gotten a chance.

The lead vocalist, after making their debut Indian show at SulaFest said “I’d love to work with Indian classical music, but I don’t know how and when. I have also loved being in this band because it has introduced me to so many types of music and I really value that a lot. I would really like to do something with it. Some of it is so kicking. If I get the opportunity, I will love to come back.”

Interestingly, influenced by the Indian classical music, Riebl expressed his love for the late sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar.

“I have listened to Indian classical music before. When I am on tour, I like listening to Pandit Ravi Shankar. It is very beautiful listening to it. It cleans my mind. It is more of an enthrallment right now. But I don’t know much about it, so I’d like to explore it. This gig may be the first step towards getting more interested in it,” he said.

However, Riebl confessed that fusing of western music with Indian classical style isn’t a cakewalk and that it is “dangerous” to generalize some of the instruments like tabla and sitar.

“The very little I know about Indian classical music, like tabla and sitar, is that it works on cycles and takes a lot of time to learn and it is very intuitive with rhythms that come up based on a world that I don’t know and I wouldn’t to pretend to know,” the 34-year-old said.

“I think it is too dangerous to generalize instruments. I would do my best to try and avoid that and try and learn something. Sometimes it is very nice to listen and learn and discover that the two styles don’t want to marry as they do their own thing,” he added.

What the lead vocalist is glad about is that they get to witness the diversity of the audience in the show.

“One of the great things about this band is the crowd is very diverse. Not one type of audience comes. A lot of young people come and a lot of old people come. To me that is a nice musical atmosphere,” Riebl added.

The Cat Empire has existed since 1999 and after all these years of playing and recording music, Riebl admits he likes to “listen more” and release less albums.

“We live in a very noisy music landscape and maybe it is just being around for a long time, but I like listening to music. I only like the sounds that are really interesting, but sometimes the mistakes I have made is that I released something for the sake of it because you love. Now I really value listening more and not put out too much,” he said.

Riebl is thrilled and excited about his visit in the country for the first time.

“It is my first time in India and first time in SulaFest. I am very excited, it is an amazing country. Being here is a thrill,” he said.

Riebl also admitted that he “never” associated India with wines, and SulaFest, happening at the lush green Sula Vineyards helped him explore this aspect of the country.

The Cat Empire has finished working on their new album “Rising With the Sun”, which will release on March 4.

“We just finished a new album. The last time we made a record, we thought it was a return to form. The intent of the album is to create a festive atmosphere. We will do a world tour, but maybe we won’t come to India this year,” he said.(IANS) (image:

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Indian Classical Music is For a Certain Class: Vocalist Suhas Vyas

An Indian classical music performance
India Night for the Cultural Association of India's 50th anniversary at Mizzou. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Sep 24, 2017: Indian classical music generally has a limited audience. Pune’s popular vocalist Suhas Vyas feels that it is because classical music is for a certain class of people.

Asked why the genre is mostly restricted to the elite audience, Vyas told IANS in an email interview: “As it is called, it is classical music. Therefore, it is for a certain class of people. Surprisingly, our music has been received with extreme love abroad.”

“In India too, the audience is opening up and the newer generation is learning and taking the art to their generation too.”

He is doing his bit to promote Indian classical music by training students, conducting lectures and performing in India as well as abroad.

Earlier this month, he experienced “nothing short of extraordinary” when he performed in China.

“The show was in Xiamen, China for the BRICS Summit cultural conference. To represent our nation and culture on foreign soil was a great experience. The auditorium was packed to its complete strength and we received standing ovation,” he said.

What about language barrier?

“As they say art has no language, it is all about emotions. The entire audience connected with the music. I performed a very rare composition by S.N Ratanjankar (scholar and teacher of Hindustani classical music).

“One delegate came backstage after the concert. As we both didn’t understand each other’s language, he kept on pointing at his heart and then mine. I got the message.”

There is another reason why, he feels, the audience connected with his music at the event where artistes from other BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) also performed.

Also Read: Ragas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises 

“Among all other performances, which were more opera style, ours was the only one which had a seating arrangement and percussion so, it fascinated the audience and was very well received,” said the artiste, whose music is about peace and spirituality.

People often use music as a means to promote peace, but when things go politically wrong, it’s the artistes who first get affected. Why?

“Artistes are usually the first ones to take the brunt because the reaction from artistes are the least damaging politically and gives maximum political mileage to parochial political parties and pressure groups during conflicts.A

“During peace time too, due to the public connect of artistes, it is the thing that gives most political mileage.” (IANS)


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Ragas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises

A unique model has been introduced by SPIC MACAY in which can lead to the all-round brain development of children between the age group of 3 to 6 yrs. old

School Children, teachers, mobile phones
School Children in India. Pixabay
  • There are various benefits of learning classical music at an early age like it improves memory, emotional intelligence, and concentration, suggests a research.
  • The preschool module will have the young children learn classical music through different bodily movements like stomping, marching swaying, jumping or shaking. It will start from basic techniques like learning seven svaras of Indian classical music by teachers.
  • Each raga taught to the students in the module is linked with fun physical exercises or basic yoga techniques like padmasana and will help them memorize sooner. 

August 3, 2017: The left and right side of the brain, both are important for a balanced and rounded education of the child. This is why the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) is introducing a new module for preschool Children and caters to the children between three and six years of age to imbibe classical music in them through the use of interactive and fun-filled educational activities like yoga and music.

There are various benefits of learning classical music at an early age like it improves memory, emotional intelligence, and concentration, suggests a research. The effect of learning music on the child’s brain in the formative years can contribute a lot to the development of their brain. It has proven to relieve tension, alleviate boredom and strengthen the child’s core, mentally and emotionally beneficial. Thus, SPIC MACAY is utilizing the power of music in order to educate young children through interactive sessions.

Young Kids learning
Young Kids learning. pixabay

The preschool module will have the young children learn classical music through different bodily movements like stomping, marching swaying, jumping or shaking. It will start from basic techniques like learning seven svaras of Indian classical music by teachers. It will help the students to improve phonetic control and language skills. The students will also be taught different basic forms of yoga with naadyog, a meditation of sounds or mantras. According to a report by The Pioneer, Dr. Kiran Seth (who created this module) said, “This will inspire children from a young age of 3-5 years to become better human beings.”

The schools can introduce the module in whichever way they want. Any school can adapt by following the required procedure. First, they have to register at the SPIC MACAY office offline.  After which that they can choose amongst two options. As per the first option, they can send their music teachers to Aarambh (the beginning) School for five days for training under the supervision of Dr. Seth, to learn the methodology of teaching basic classical ragas and interactive techniques to young students. In addition, the cultural society’s volunteers will regularly visit the schools to oversee the progress. The second option is that they can opt for a visit thrice a week by SPIC MACAY trained volunteers-teachers.

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Children will be taught to play it like a game, putting their right and left leg forward to Sa Re Ga Ma, for the arohan (ascending) and avrohan (descending) notes, which will be done at different speeds. It will be done with the tanpura music in the background. Modules like these are designed to increase their meditative capacity and bring back focus amongst children, which can be lost due to overuse of electronic gadgets.

The module was designed after a five-year long research into child behavior. By mapping the change in their responses, post subjecting them to varied modules. Each raga taught to the students in the module is linked with fun physical exercises or basic yoga techniques like padmasana and will help them memorize sooner.


The society has a large network of volunteers throughout the country. So, this module can be implemented pan-India. The society also aims at regularly organizing its cultural events with the schools that opt for this module. These events which will have various artists performing will boost children’s interest in music. They are also providing several classical music CDs to schools free of cost.

At their 5th International Convention, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated Dr. Seth for reviving our rich music, culture, and heritage. This move can bring a qualitative change in elementary education.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08

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Is there Science behind Indian Classical Music? Here is how Sounds have Different Effects on Human Body!

Music is the highest art and, to those who understand is the highest worship.

Musicians playing Indian classical music in a river boat. Wikimedia

December 10, 2016: Do you remember the story of the competition between Tanasena and Baiju Bawara? A small flock of deer came to Tanasena while he was performing and he put a garland round a deer fascinated by music. In response to this Baiju sang in the Mrgaranjani mode to bring back the same deer that had a garland around his neck.

These stories are hard to believe but Science has proven that different sounds have different effects on the system. So, the tale of Tanasena lighting up the lamp with his music is just another science experiment.

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Indian music is one of the oldest musical traditions of the world. The first available Sanskrit text, completely about dance, music and theater is the Natya Shastra, also known as the Fifth Veda. Wrote by sage Bharata Muni between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D, it has 36 chapters with around 6,000 sutras incorporated. It is believed that it is inspired by Lord Brahma.

During the Vedic times, Rishis would study different sound vibrations and the effects of it on the human body. They would practice tonal patterns and its connection with human mind, body and soul. In temple, priests would chant Vedic shlokas.

For the modern science, music is all about vibration. Where there is sound, there is bound to be vibration. For a person who cannot recognize the completeness of the sound, music is just a noise as he is just hearing bits and pieces of vibrations. For a person who listens and understands the wholeness of the sound, everything is music. The chirping of birds is music, the sound of the flowing water is music and the sound of a baby laughing is music. There is no sound in the world that is not music.

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Indian classical music can be quite complicated. Unlike western music, Indian music has a loose structure. It is a creation of the moment. But even with all the ragas and complicated rhythmic cycles, one does not need to know the science behind it to appreciate the beauty of this art form. It’s all about the feelings and effects on the listeners from the experience. The music is more about the creation of the performer who creates an experience of meditation for the listener. The Indian classical music is more than just entertainment. It is a spiritual experience.

It is expressed in the one dimension of yoga, that human body is Shiva’s damaru, which is a symbol for the rhythm of the life. The sound that you hear when you are excited or scared is the rhythm of the body. It is not just the voice you hear when your heart is beating fast. Every pranic nadi in the body has its tune. Every chakra in our body has a sound. Sound and our body are related to each other.

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Every sound is different and it has a different impact. When you hear a certain kind of music, you love it. It makes you joyful. Some other sound makes you upset. Sounds have a deep impact on human emotions. You cannot remember the number of times when you have listened to a kind of music and got to reminiscing. Sounds also change the chemistry of our system. The kind of music you listen to reflect your personality.

India has a great number of stories about the legends in the field of music. The most famous among these is Tanasena, who could light lamps with his music. Two brahmin girls, Tana and  Riri, sang and that caused the rain to pour down and relieved Tanasena of the pain from the heat of the en-kindled lamps. Some musicians could fill a dry garden with greenery and fruits and flowers. .This might be true or just an exaggeration. Whether it is true or not we might never know, but science believes that sound can do some unexpected things. In the program, Samyama, chanting Shiva would take people to an entirely different dimension of experience.

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There is tale of Baiju Bavara where he melted the heart of Humayu. After conquering the city of Campanera, Humayu ordered slaughtering in the city. The army would just indiscriminately kill everyone. Baiju Bawara sang and it made the emotion of mercy flow in Humayu’s heart. Humayu was filled with pity and mercy and he stopped the slaughtering and released the prisoners.

The Malakaumsa mode has such an incredible potential that it can melt a stone into a liquid. If the vibrations of this mode can melt a stone, what effect will it have on the human heart? The Malakaumsa mode delivers such emotions that it is capable of changing the hearts of the greatest men. This is the reason why Tirthankara Paramatmas use only Malakaumsa mode to deliver their discourse.

Muni Sri Nandisena of Jain Svetambara sect compiled Si Ajitsanti Stotra. In this, he has mentioned the importance of chanting stotras in the morning and evening. The person chanting or listening to these stotras develop a strong immune system against various diseases.

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Music has been an integral part of every culture on the planet. It is not just a tuneful arrangement of sounds; it is a stepping stone in the spiritual process. One can see the importance of music in every culture, every religion in the world. Especially with Indian culture, music is not just a form of entertainment; it is a way to connect with God. With Indian classical music, it is possible to walk through the creation of the music.In Indian culture, if you get deeply involved in the ragas, the tunes, it will help you in meditating.

Music opens up many doors. It does not matter if you prefer cinema music, classical music or any other form of music; it will give you a whole other experience of life. If you have an interest in music and you have got ears to hear, the whole existence of the humans and the world is just music.

 by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53