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    Hindustani Music Fundamentals: A 3-Week Introductory Course

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    Event description

    Hindustani Music Fundamentals: Introductory Course with Alexander Karvelas, PhD


    Class Meeting Times:

    • Thursday 5/23/24, 2-6 pm
    • Thursday 5/30/24, 2-6 pm
    • Sunday 6/2/24, 2-6 pm 
      -Followed by a special concert offering by Donya Reeza. Concert ticket included in tuition!
      -If you're curious about the concert alone, click here

    Course Description:

    This course will provide a comprehensive introduction to Hindustani Classical Music over the span of three sessions. Each session will build upon the previous one, moving from an engagement with the cultural and historical context of the tradition, to a hands-on (and voice-on!) engagement with the melodic and rhythmic structures of the music and an internalization of the building blocks of raga. This is a beginner level class, and no experience or knowledge of Hindustani classical music is required. As a participant you will be encouraged to sing, both within the group context and individually for individualized feedback and instruction. Singing exercises will include set melodic patterns within a specific raga, compositions and songs within a specific raga, and melodic improvisations of compounding complexity. The goals of this class are (1) to build deeper understanding of the cultural contexts of the music (2) to familiarize with the basic structures, its compositional and improvisational aspects, and (3) to gain confidence in singing raga. Hindustani classical music entails lifelong practice, and this introductory course is offered as as a bundle of practices and inspirations that you, as a student, will take with you and cultivate.

    Course Objectives - Learning Outcomes:

    • Understand cultural and historical contexts of Hindustani classical music
    • Learn the basic components of raga theory
    • Identify the different structural parts of a Hindustani classical performance, how to present and listen to a raga
    • Memorization of sargam note names (S R G m P D N S)
    • Memorization of basic rhythmic terms (sum, kali, tihai, chakradhar)
    • Build skill singing within raag and taal (modal framework and rhythmic cycle)
    • Develop a riyaz practice routine using traditional exercises 



    Session 1: Story, History, and the Core of the Music 

    • Historical context for the development of Hindustani Classical Music and its diaspora
    • Mythology and cosmology
    • Embodying core concepts in the music

    Session 2: Listening to Raga, Singing Raga

    • Raga as story: breaking down the components of a raga
    • Practicing listening: identifying aspects of raga through close attention to interval and form
    • Practicing singing: internalizing the logic and expression of raga through elementary melodic explorations

    Session 3: Riyaz, Developing a Practice 

    • What is riyaz? Understanding a philosophy of practice
    • Riyaz exercises: hands on instruction and group exercise
    • Building a routine: identifying essential practices to take with you outside of the class

    About the Instructor:

    Alexander Karvelas completed his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the UC, Santa Barbara, specializing in Hindustani Classical Music and modal traditions of the Middle East and Central Asia. He has studied sitar and vocals for 15 years with several different gharanas or lineages. His first teacher, Scott Marcus, who also served on his doctoral committee, was a student of the renowned dhrupad musician Zia Mohiuddin Dagar. Alexander received the majority of his training on sitar from Joanna Mack, who studied in the lineage of Ravi Shankar, in the Maihar gharana. Alexander also studied at the Ali Akbar College under Bruce Hamm, a leading disciple of Ali Akbar Khan. Alexander also received extensive training in singing raga under Rik Masteron, a disciple of Pran Nath of the Kirana gharana, as well as with Shakti Mishra, son of Pashupatinath Mishra. As both an ethnomusicologist and performer, Alexander’s intention is to offer a rich tapestry of perspective, sentiment, and reverential engagement with the internal diversity of this vast musical tradition, its many lineages, histories, and musical jewels. Alexander teaches in individual and group settings and performs regularly with the Donya Reeza Collective and the Mah ze Tar project.

    If you are experiencing financial inability at this time but wish to be involved, please contact Dr. Karvelas at

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