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Melharmony  

 

Ravikiran's most significant contribution to world music is Melharmony' Melharmony, a new approach to compositions and aesthetics that he initiated in the year 2000 at the Millennium Festival in UK. The impact of this has been reflected in melharmonic concerts, collaborations, academic papers and recognition such as the Cities of Madison and Middleton, (WI, USA) Proclamations of Melharmony Day. Melharmony aims to explore new harmonies based on the rules of highly evolved melodic systems such as Indian Classical Music.

Ravikiran has also introduced Melharmony in USA School Districts through compositions for their orchestras as well as Youth Symphonies, besides presenting College Credit Course on major institutions like Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York.

Academic acceptance

The Society for Music Theory Conference, Boston, USA: On Nov 12, 2005, distinguished composer Prof Robert Morris (Eastman School of Music, NY) presented a significant paper titled: 'Ravikiran's concept of Melharmony: an inquiry into Harmony in South Indian Ragas.' Ravikiran has presented papers in conferences such as India and the World (Amsterdam) and Indian Musicological Conference (Mumbai).

Compositions & Arrangements

Ravikiran's Melharmonic compositions are flavoured with exciting and often original rhythmic patterns. He has introduced modes/scales novel to the West but based on Indian ragas like Hamsadhwani, Nattai, Dhavalambari and Janaranjani. He has also created melharmonic arrangements based on works of traditional Indian composers such as Tyagaraja (1767-1847), Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi (1700-65) and Muttuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835). For school levels, Ravikiran has created melharmonic interpretations of short pieces (geetams/krtis) arranged for piano, strings and/or winds. His compositions have influenced composers such as Polivios Issariotis.

Over the last few decades, several composers from other cultures have attempted 'raga-based' compositions (using both North Indian and Carnatic ragas). They have made commendable efforts to learn and try out new scales from India. But without familiarity with the other key aspects of the raga like sequence, ornamentation, hierarchy of notes and key phrases, their compositions are at best diatonic harmonies and only bring out about 20% of the raga. In fact, without an emphasis on the right sequence of notes, the music can very easily cross borders and go into the territory of another raga. This does not matter, if the attempt is specified as only a 'raga-influenced' work and not as a 'raga-based' creation.

The significance

It is against this background that Ravikiran's melharmony is revolutionary. Several of his melharmonic pieces have multiple arrangements that can be performed by small jazz bands and classical ensembles as well as by full-sized symphony orchestras. More significantly, Ravikiran hopes to create a new set of aesthetics and rules of desirable chords with respect to each individual mode raga that will enable any composer in any part of the world to create melharmonically.