mark fell





a carnatic paradigm, counterflows, glasgow CCA 2017

24 speaker sound installation with reading room.

featuring contributions from Nakul Krishnamurthy, Sandro Mussida, Nandini Muthuswamy, Shobana Swaminathan, Rian Treanor, Mysore Vadiraj.

mac users can download the tala app here developed using lee armitage's tala external for maxmsp

produced by AC projects

limited edition a2 screen print, available from ac projects

photos by jens masimov

A quick switch from the sun-dappled terrace of a pub along the Kelvin to the CCA’s wood-panelled theatre had made for a disorienting start to A Carnatic Paradigm, a project conceived by musician and producer Mark Fell. Laying back in the mood-lit room, ready to pass out, listening to the first section of the multipartite programme of traditional south Indian music and new minimal electronic interpretations, you could spot a disembodied arm in the darkness above the crowd. Fell seems to be mixing these exemplars of Carnatic music live from the heavens. Below, an ensemble of musicians he had met in India last year recite the various species of talas and ragas on sitar and adapted violin, each time giving exacting explanations of their histories and compositions. Hindustani in origin and specific to several areas of southern India, Carnatic music is a vocal music, that, even when played on instruments is written to imitate the voice.

This is direct tutelage – the Carnatic Paradigm slowly unfolding as some kind of pedagogical experiment. A reading room housing related research and literature was available over the weekend to dip in and out of. The players actively promoted their instrument and heritage to the audience. And Fell’s new compositions rose out dialogue with, and study of, the logic and mechanics of the music.

But I can’t really explain the difference between a tala and raga. Fascinating as it is, Wikipedia’d be your best bet for that. New knowledge though comes through seeking contradictions and enjoying that space in the middle. Counterflows is a timely reminder of a method for the working-out of new ways of dealing with the present – responding to the challenges of the democratic model it typifies. Coming up against noise and melody. Cleverness and dumbness. Structure and improvisation.

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© mark fell, modified September 18, 2017, at 06:03 AM PDT edit print