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Articles on Carnatic Music

Carnatic Music and the Earth

Carnatic music has always been at peace with the earth, like so many other things in South and East Asia. Traditions were passed down from mouth to mouth, along with stories and theory. Students learned by apprenticeship - doing things for their gurus in their everyday lives, and learning to perform music was only one part of that routine. Even awards given to accomplished musicians were practical: monetary (gold or cash), biodegradable (garlands or flowers), or usable (clothing or shawls).

These days learning music is different. Many students go to class only once a week, and the music is copied in a hundred different ways: thick notebooks and looseleaf filled with repeated notes, tape upon tape of hours of recorded classes, spent batteries and CDs and Mp3 recorders, assignment sheets and stickers and certificates and plastic trophies.

Of course, books well-kept are a necessity - they will be reused over and over again, and the meager amount of paper they use can be rebound.

But there are other ways to be earth-friendly while still propagating Carnatic music and its traditions. Here are some ideas:

1. Recycle, reuse, reduce paper waste.

The three R's are even more important today. When you print lyrics, print them on the back of an old page. Use recycled paper to print on and print on both sides and compress two pages into one. Avoid writing things down multiple times and printing more copies than you need. Can you announce the program or put it up on a large board instead of printing a copy for everyone? Do it. Keep everything you need in one binder where you can rewrite and reorganize and use scraps of different kinds of pages. If you must use a notebook, find one of recycled paper. Or keep a computer file.

2. Save energy

Try to use rechargeable batteries instead of single-use ones. They last longer and if you keep a few charged, you won't run out. Also, the newer mp3 recorders use less space and last longer since you can keep files on your hard drive. Record only what you need - not entire conversations or classes, but perhaps just the song your teacher sings for you to copy, or a particular phrase. You can organize and label them yourself. Also, try singing in the morning if you can, so you're not running lights during practice. If you have access to a real tambura or manual shruti box, consider using it instead of an electric one. Apply this principle to everything, including trying to find a music teacher close to home so that you travel less.

3. Less plastic

These days, kids get plastic trophies for everything. Instead of that, consider a gift they'll really use and which creates little waste. Perhaps movie tickets or a long-lasting toy, even a hand-written note on recycled paper. When it comes to bags, use fabric ones, not plastic. Keep CDs in a fabric binder to reduce the use of jewel cases, and record over tapes and CDs once they are out of date or you know the material.

4. Be conscious

Spread the word about less waste and more in-tune living to your teachers, students, and classmates. Everyone can learn from the lesson: Carnatic music is all about being one with the music and with nature, and we can all do a little to make more conscious choices about how we live.



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updated on 06/10/2005