The mridangamWork in Progress Presentation of Ravi Shankar's 'Sukanya'

The Music Room | Konnakol, a Rhythmic Language

We’re pleased to present the fifth episode of our series, The Music Room: When East Meets West. To tie in with the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s only opera Sukanya in May 2017, our ten-part mini-series aims to explore the dialogue between Classical Indian and Western music with the opera’s conductor David Murphy. Watch the fifth episode here:


The fifth episode aims to expand our understanding of tala. In Tala Part 1, David examined the differences of transcribing notes in Classical Indian and Western Music. In Western Classical music, notes are written down and grouped to form a phrase. Whereas in Indian Classical music, notes are grouped through a set of spoken syllables and hand gestures, this is the concept of tala, the rhythmic cycles of Indian music.


Tala Part 2, explores the concept of konnakol – the rhythmic language of Indian Classical Music. In the video, konnakol is demonstrated firstly on the mridangam (the double-headed drum from South India) by mridangam virtuoso M Balachandar. who shows how each syllable relates to a particular drum stroke.


Tabla player Raj Kumar Misra then gives a demonstration of konnakol in action. The film concludes with an excerpt from a work in progress presentation of Ravi Shankar’s opera Sukanya, showing his unique use of konnakol – in counterpoint with western voices.


The Bagri Foundation is delighted to support Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya, which the Indian music legend envisioned before his passing in December 2012 as a groundbreaking piece exploring the common ground between the music, dance and theatrical traditions of India and the West. This innovative co-production between the Royal Opera House, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Curve will take open at Curve Theatre, Leicester on Friday 12 May 2017 with its finale on Friday 19 May 2017 at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London. We are very proud to be part of this amazing adventure to raise awareness and understanding of the arts of India and enable an innovative dialogue between cultures, traditions and art forms.

For more information and to book your tickets visit: