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Karnataka College of Percussion: River Yamuna

Percussion, of a fascinating and intricate sort, is on parade on River Yamuna (Music of the World 145; 63:58), by musicians from the Karnataka College of Percussion in Madras, India, led by Dr. K. Raghavendra. This unusual collection of Carnatic music includes traditionally tonal instruments including the vina, voice and bamboo flute (not to separate them from the tonal assertions of percussion instruments-especially in Indian music), but the real appeal is the gamut of percussion instruments, beyond the conventional South Indian drum, the mridangam. Virtuosic jaw harp playing is heard on “Morsing Trio,” a three-way dialogue of tight-lipped, tight-phrased players of the Indian jaw harp called the morsing, and clay pots called ghatam are heard in a “Ghatam Quartet.” Another track features the purely vocal percussive language of Konnakkol, in which musicians issue syllabic vocal rhythms, with rapid-fire syncopations. The album closes with the title track, a simple piece written by Raghavendra, sporting a wide array of instrumental colors.

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