Tuesday 23.05.2023 19:00 — 20:30
ArtLab Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics

An Exploration of South Indian Rāga

Photo of Brindha Manickavasakan

Photo of Brindha Manickavasakan

Tuesday, May 23, 7 p.m. (CEST)

Performance by Brindha Manickavasakan followed by a panel discussion.

What defines a rāga, and what is the creative process undertaken by a Karnatak musician while performing rāga ālāpana (a form of extemporization)? For this performance, the popular Chennai-based Karnatak vocalist, Brindha Manickavasakan, will present a number of rāgas in the South Indian musical tradition, accompanying herself on the tambura (plucked lute). Several key Karnatak rāgas will be explored through performance, as well as through demonstration of each rāga’s salient features. The evening will be an opportunity for audience members to experience, in person, the character (bhāva) of several rāgas, and through the post-event discussion, to gain insight into the creative process of a Karnatak musician during rāga extemporization.

The event will take place in the ArtLab of the Institute, Grüneburgweg 14, 60322 Frankfurt am Main. The conversation following the performance will be in English. Admission is free, registration is not required.


Brindha Manickavasakan is amongst the foremost young Carnatic vocalists in India, known for her rich voice as well as for the bhāva (emotion), sensitivity and creativity of her music. She has received numerous awards, including the V Subrahmaniam Young Talent Award from Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer Golden Jubilee Foundation, the title Ilam Rasika Kala Bharathi from Rasika Fine Arts, the Best Vocalist award of the Rising Stars series, and the M S Subbulakshmi fellowship award from Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha, Mumbai. She is an ‘A’ graded vocal artist of All India Radio, and is currently a student of the eminent vocalist Vidushi Suguna Varadachari. Brindha has a Master’s degree in Biostatistics from Georgetown University, USA, a Master’s degree in Music, and is a PhD candidate in Music from Madras University with a thesis on Tañjāvūr K Poṉṉayyā Piḷḷai. She is a constant feature in all the major sabhas in Chennai and performs regularly both in India and abroad.

The event is part of our "How Did You Do That?" series.

Artistic work involves a multitude of decisions of a conscious and unconscious nature, judgments about success and failure, reflection on one's own actions. The series "How Did You Do That? Lecture Recitals on Contemporary Artistic Processes, Decisions, and Judgements" invites well-known artists from various disciplines to reflect on these processes: What criteria play a role? On what background are aesthetic decisions made? What kind of references are involved? When is a work/performance successful?

The evening events of the series each consist of a performance (concert, reading, performance) and an accompanying discussion with audience participation in the ArtLab, the concert and performance hall of the MPIEA.