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Ritual Music and Hindu Rituals of Kerala

Rolf Killius (Author)
Synopsis This study explores the relationship of the Hindu religious rituals to the percussion dominated music genres in the south Indian state Kerala. It is both, an introduction to the ritual performances and to the musical styles. It takes up the quest to investigate how ritual meaning is expressed through music, it illuminates aesthetic beauty and the relative independent importance of the musical styles within the ritual context. The study investigates how and why the temple music ensembles are dominated by the ubiquitous drums and bronze cymbals and based on a sophisticated rhythm structure rather than on melody. Extended fieldwork within the musician communities in Kerala enabled the author, Rolf Killius, to arrange this work from the viewpoint of the musicians. As there are thousands of hereditary professional temple musicians in the districts of central Kerala, this work is mainly based on the oral knowledge of these communities, however the few academic accounts of scholars were considered. The musicians’ perspective, identified and illustrated through text, photographs, and tables should unfold the diversity of this musical culture. Thus Indian and percussion music aficionados and scholars alike should benefit from this study.
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About the author

Rolf Killius

Rolf Killius is a consultant (museums, exhibitions, media), Soas, London University), sound recordlist, and radio journalist, whose work appears in a variety of contexts. He was born in Germany, lived in Switzerland and India, and presently divides his time between London and New Delhi. In 1996-97 he spent 15 months in Kerala, where he recorded and documented nearly all shetram Vadyam styles. During this time he worked and has been working since with nearly all bandleaders and solo artists in Kerala. This research, recording and documentation project was conducted in conjunction with the British Library Sound Archive (BLSA), London. Since November 2000 the BLSA and Rolf Killius have been working on a project-Traditional Music in India (TMI)-to record, document and research folk, devotional and ritual music in India. Part of the project is to collect and document more than 100 musical instruments for the Horniman Museum in London. For nearly ten years he has been a regular producer and writer of radio broadcasts and articles about Indian, Romanian and Arabic music for different Swiss, German and UK radio stations and publications. He recorded, produced, and mastered nine CDs in UK, Switzerland, Germany, France, and Netherlands featuring South Asian music cultures.

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Bibliographic information

Title Ritual Music and Hindu Rituals of Kerala
Author Rolf Killius
Format Hardcover
Date published: 10.01.2006
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher B.R. Rhythms
Language: English
isbn 818882707X
length viii+135p., Tables; Plates; Glossary Appendix; Index; 26cm.