The Karnataka College Of Percussion, River Yamuna

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The Karnataka College of Percussion in Bangalore teaches students the various types and modes of percussion in Carnatic, or South Indian, music. Judging by this album, it's an excellent institution. The musical arsenal includes mrindagam (a double-headed drum), the clay pots called ghatam, the kanjira tambourine, voice and vina, a precursor of the sitar. (The famous tabla is used in Hindustani, or Northern Indian, music.) "Konnakkol" highlights the complex mouth percussion technique called konnakoll, jaw harps buzz like mad synthesizers on "Morsing Trio" and each of the instruments has a turn in the spotlight on different tracks, even the beautiful vocals which are the centerpiece of the slow, aching "Salvation." This is more folk-oriented than the more familiar classical Indian repertoire, so the pieces are shorter and favor melodies over improvisation, although the skill level is stunningly high. An education as well as glorious entertainment, River Yamuna is a perfect introduction to South Indian music.