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The Basics of Kirtana
Kirtana may be categorized as ‘bhana’, which, according to Bharata, the initiator-commentator of bharatiya natyasastra, is an individual performance of an actor, who at a time plays many roles as a self and as many others. An n-glossic (amalgamation of many [n] codes) situation was observed in the discursive formation of kirtana. This code-analysis reveals a difference between speaking and ‘musicking’ (the term used by Christopher Small). One of the focuses of kirtana is the akhar, which is between or in between speaking and musicking.
There are several steps in the kirtana: speaking, musicking, dialoguing, rhythmic gaps, well-constructed pauses or silences, simultaneous dancing, acting etc. and akhar is at a time an insider and an outsider. Thus, akhar is a liminal or threshold point of the song, which is characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy. Moreover, the complicated role-playing of single interlocutors is also also observed in this performance. Though [Volosinov] found this type of multi-layered performance by a single reader/performer is difficult in the context of Russian narratives, the Bengali kirtaniyas showed the path by performing such difficult text with professional precision. The reporting of the reported speech in the ‘bhana’ of kirtana had become quasi-direct discourse with the full non-authoritarian participation of the three: composer, performer and the audience. If linguistics is considered to be a “discipline” for establishing dialogue without manipulation, the performance of kirtana as an open text might be cited as an example of such dialogue


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