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Get Cultured With The Carnatica Brothers For Free

By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 7, 2009 7:30PM

The Carnatica Brothers, the South Indian classical vocal duo performing tomorrow night at the Cultural Center, have a misleading name. Their family name isn't Carnatica, and, actually, they're not even brothers.

Carnatica refers to Carnatic music, one of the two main types of Indian classical music. Played predominantly in South India, Carnatic music bears many similarities to its northern counterpart, Hindustani music, chiefly by being constructed with ragas and talas (melodic and rhythmic prescriptions, respectively) and through the extensive use of improvisation. The main differences between the two genres, by and large, are that Carnatic music tends to consist of shorter compositions - songs are more structured and don't evolve into extremely lengthy improvisations - and vocals play a much more central role.

And while the Carnatica Brothers aren't brothers, they are related: they're cousins. K.N. Shashikiran and C.P. Ganesh, who have been prominent Carnatic vocalists since they were children. Shashikiran, who also plays the ghatam (a clay pot), and Ganesh, who also plays the shitravina (a 21-string fretless lute), will be joined by Tanjore Murugabhoopathi on mridangam (a drum) and 13-year-old violinist (and Bolingbrook resident) Sandeep Bharadwaj. The best part about this concert - besides getting the opportunity to hear some of the top musicians of a musical style not common around these parts - is that it's free.

Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m., free