Conclusion

his article has described Carnatic gamaka types and has correlated them with distinctive violin techniques. These links help to account for the violin's rapid assimilation into the Carnatic ensemble, and for its enduring popularity there. The techniques discussed represent the basic left-hand motions which may be used in playing the violin in whatever style--they are intrinsic to the instrument.

These motions are of three types. Shifts (e.g., Carnatic jaru , the slides) are made with a sliding movement of the whole hand, including the thumb, to a new position. Oscillations (e.g., gamaka , the deflections) are executed by rolls or short slides with the thumb in place, though it may bend or stretch. And fingerfall (e.g., janta , the fingered stresses) is accomplished with crisp stopping and release of the string by individual fingers, the thumb remaining still.

This study has an implication for Western violinists who want to develop elements of technique which may have been underplayed in their own training. There is no way that a violinist working in the Western hold can achieve the free fluidity of left-hand movement that is possible in the Carnatic playing position. This constraint is due to the role of the Western player's thumb in supporting the instrument: whenever the thumb moves, support is unstable until it comes to rest again.

But experimentation with the techniques described here--audible slides, and oscillations of various widths and speeds, using the half-shift as a source of security in the hold--can enhance any violinist's ease and confidence in moving about the instrument. This is one example of how the violin, through far-flung adaptations to different musics of the world, may itself act as a vehicle of practical communication between them.

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