A Cultural Musical Experience

Providing space for inexperienced and untrained singers, the Community Singing project aims at being more than just a singing session but a pro-active cultural exchange as well

Published: 19th February 2014 09:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2014 09:11 AM   |  A+A-

If you’ve always been a bathroom singer but have dreamed of singing to a slightly bigger audience, then the Hyderabad’s Western Music Foundation’s (HWMF) Community Singing project is the space for you. Held twice a month, the sessions bring together trained and untrained vocalists in the sheer joy of sharing music.

Conducted by classically-trained (Hindustani) Tejaswinee Kelkar, the course director, the sessions are about giving people not just a space to sing without being daunted by the technicalities, but also understand the music from more than a layman’s point of view. Tejaswinee tells us more.

“Community singing abroad is usually meant to be therapeutic or is associated with an acting class or something as specific. What we’re looking at is providing a space for someone who may not necessarily be nuanced in the craft and wants to practice it in a much more relaxed environment,” begins the master’s student at IIIT Hyderabad. Having worked on visualisation and thematic development of music, she explains that for many, the musical connect is important, which is why the sessions are themed and deal with various aspects; from genres of music to comparative analytical sessions to repertoires of particular musicians, they cover many bases to keep everyone engaged.

“The idea is to make it more participatory, so a lot of what we do is heavy with folk. Folk songs are very cultural and in fact came into existence to bring communities together. Many of them were sung by manual labourers like wood cutters where the songs developed a rhythm and helped the group be in sync. Singing the same songs, helps us replicate that same vein of rhythm.” Besides developing a connect amongst the participants that come from different backgrounds, Tejaswinee adds that the sessions also turn into mini history classes.

“There’s a lot of cultural exposure that comes from these sessions as the lyrics are based on day-to-day activities. So a lot of people enjoy that aspect as well, and for many, it can be quite epiphanic when they find the rather grotesque portrayal of other people’s misery.”

With a lot of sophisticated music culture comes from folk music, the course director finds she needs to do her home work as well. But it isn’t just the participants who seem to be enjoying themselves; Tejaswinee takes immense pleasure in researching the many folk cultures from across the world.

“I love what I’m doing. There’s so much to learn from this. Interestingly, many musicologists have collated information on different folk cultures. So, it’s not too difficult.”

While she’s adept with the wide range -- “I am comfortable with early jazz, yodels which are mostly from the Alpine region, Scotland, etc, East Asian folk music, especially Japan as I lived there for a while” -- there are a few, like the French chantes that are slightly tricky for her. “The grammar with some of these can be a handful. And the challenge comes in establishing the connect with the group as the language and the significance is different.”

Overall though, the sessions turn out to be quite fun that leave one with more than just a singing experience.

The fourth community singing session is being held this Sunday, February 23, at Lamakaan from 4 to 5:30 pm. Focusing on some styles of folk music, the session will include the sailor song ‘Soran Bushi’ from Japan and even yodeling. Open to all, the session requires a registration fee of `100. For more details, contact 99122 01659.


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