Dr Lisa Young - The Eternal Pulse

Lisa Young is well known to choral, world and jazz music listeners as a creative vocal stylist and improviser, incorporating Indian and African elements in her work. A longtime student of maestro Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani in Chennai, Lisa specialises in konnakol - South Indian vocal percussion She performs worldwide with vocal group Coco’s Lunch who has recorded 7 CDs of original music receiving 2 ARIA nominations, and also with her jazz quartet, who won the prestigious BELL Award for Best Australian Vocal Album in 2007. Renowned as a passionate and engaging workshop leader, choirs throughout the world perform Young’s works. Website: www.lisayoungmusic.com

Commonly described as a sophisticated style of vocal percussion, konnakol is the performance art form of the intoned rhythmic recitation of solkattu, the vocalised rhythmic syllables of South Indian classical music and dance. It is a highly creative tool, in which konnakol provides a conceptual framework for metred numerical calculations, improvisation, composition, rhythmic comprehension and analysis, transference of musical ideas, and expression of musical pulse. For this research I created and performed the song cycle The Eternal Pulse with jazz musicians Ben Robertson, Stephen Magnusson and Dave Beck. In composing this work, I explored the expression of ‘eternal’ and ‘internal’ pulse, understood as the musical metre and the internal sub- divisions of the metre respectively. I used intoned and pitched konnakol as a fully integrated vocal and musical expression in a Western contemporary jazz context, embedding konnakol and wordless lingual sounds within this format to create a unique ‘vocal sound-bank’ as the basis for my vocal expression. This presentation demonstrates this process, where The Eternal Pulse creates a new style of composition and performance by integrating konnakol language and concepts as melodies, riffs and the language for improvised passages, showing the adaptive and evolving use of konnakol in contemporary performance practice.

From The Outstanding Field: Artistic Research Emerging from the Academy - A Symposium. 19th — 21st of March 2015.