Now, a raga named after Beethoven

Paying tribute to Western classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven, a new Indian classical raga Veetavanam has been created by Chitravina N. Ravikiran.

The name lends itself to multiple translations such as desired abundance, desired spring or desired forest. It forms the improvisatory prelude to his latest video Beethoven on 21 strings, which features the evergreen Fur Elise.

The musician’s creation, close to the Western minor scale that Fur Elise is composed in, draws from the Carnatic Keeravani. “Fur Elise actually uses several other phrasings and also every one of the 12 notes in a descending flourish at one point,” said Mr. Ravikiran, who has created a number of ragas, including Mohini, celebrating Mahatma Gandhi, and Choodamani, named after his mother.

“This raga is more a suggestive salutation to the great composer than an attempt to mimic him. I hope that this tribute is welcomed by musicians and music lovers of both the East and West,” he said.

On the challenges involved, he said that Indian classical has evolved along melodic lines and does not employ harmony. But even melody sections that may seem elementary on a piano (since 10 fingers are used) can be enormously challenging to negotiate with just one slide. “But the ‘singing’ quality of the Chitravina and its ability to execute enchanting micro-tonal nuances and also create dazzling effects can bring out a completely different flavour of the piece, without affecting its integrity,” he said.

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