Fall 2007 Issue

The Sound of Music

Fall 2007 Issue

What’s Jalatharangam?

It’s an ancient form of spiritual music from India, and in April the Barry University community got the opportunity to hear what those in India have known for years: Jalatharangam is music to the ears and the soul.

Barry was able to host this special event with featured guest, Seetha Doraiswamy, a well-known artist in India and the only professional female player of the Jalatharangam, thanks to the efforts of the Center for Dominican Studies. Doraiswamy has given more than 1,000 performances on the Jalatharangam in India, North America, Canada and the Middle East.

To produce the soothing, meditative sounds of Jalatharangam, which means “water waves,” Doraiswamy fills a set of various-sized porcelain bowls with water. The bowls are arranged in the form of a semi-circle in front of her so that each one is easily accessible for playing. Each bowl gives a different tone, with the larger and thicker bowls producing low tones while the smaller and thinner bowls produce the higher tones. These tones are adjusted by adding or removing water from each bowl.

Doraiswamy, who is 83, began playing the Jalatharangam at the age of 14. She plays by striking the bowls with nine-inch long bamboo sticks; each neatly cut and tapered at one end. Watching Doraiswamy play the Jalatharangam is similar to watching a musician play the drums or the xylophone. During her visit to Barry, Doraiswamy was accompanied by her grandchildren Vignesh Doraiswamy and Abishek Raaja on the drums and Ganavya Doraiswamy on the mini- piano.