Konnakol (also spelled Konokol, Konakkol) (Tamil: கொன்னக்கோல்) is the art of performing percussion syllables vocally in South Indian music, the Carnatic music (South Indian classical) performance art of vocal percussion. Konnakol is the spoken component of solkattu, which refers to a combination of konnakol syllables spoken while simultaneously counting the tala (meter) with the hand. It is comparable in some respects to bol in Hindustani music, but allows the composition, performance or communication of rhythms. Sri Thetakudi Harihara Subash Chandran is a well-known proponent.
Many musicians from a variety of traditions around the world have found konnakol useful in their own musical practice. Prominent among these is John McLaughlin, who led the Mahavishnu Orchestra and has long used konnakol as an aid to composing. V. Selvaganesh, who plays alongside John McLaughlin in the group Remember Shakti, and Ranjit Barot, who plays with McLaughlin in the group 4th Dimension are other noted konnakol virtuosos.
The most exposed konnakol musician on the internet is Danish musician Henrik Andersen. He has released the bestselling book Shortcut To Nirvana (2005) and the DVD Learn Konnakol (2014). He is world-famous not only for being a master of konnakol but also for his ability to teach the technique and theory in his own simple way. Andersen is a student of Trilok Gurtu (India) and Pete Lockett (U.K.)
Subash Chandran's disciple Dr Joel, who teaches konnakol in the U.K., is noted for incorporating it into rock and western classical music, notably in a concerto commissioned in 2007 by the viola soloist Rivka Golani. The trio J G Laya (Sri Thetakudi Harihara Vinayakram, Sri T. H. Subash Chandran and Dr Joel) showcased the konnakol of Sri T. H. Subash Chandran and helped the previously fading art form come back to concert prominence in the 1980s. Subash Chandran released an instructional DVD on konnakol in 2007. McLaughlin and Selvaganesh also released a separate instructional DVD on konnakol in 2007.
Konnakol should not be confused with the practice in Hindustani music (the classical music of northern India) of speaking tabla "bols", which indicate the finger placement to be used by a percussionist. By contrast, konnakol syllables are aimed at optimising vocal performance, and konnakol syllables vastly outnumber any commonly used finger placements on mridangam or any other hand percussion instrument. Further, all the differences which still remain between Carnatic and north Indian rhythms apply equally to konnakol and tabla bols respectively.
The artist improvises within a structure that interrelates with the raga being played and within the talam preferred in the compositions. In mridangam, kanjira, or ghatam, the percussion is limited to physical characteristics of their structure and construction: the resonance of skin over jackfruit wood, clay shells, or clay pots. The human voice has a direct and dramatic way of expressing the percussive aspects in music directly.
Trichy Shri R Thayumanavar is the one who gave a rebirth to the art of konnakkol. His disciple Andankoil AVS Sundararajan, a vocal and miruthangam Vidwan, is an expert in konnakkol. Mridangam Vidwan Shri T S Nandakumar is also an expert in konnakkol.
- David P. Nelson, Solkattu Manual: An Introduction to the Rhythmic Language of South Indian Music, Wesleyan University Press, 2008
- John McLaughlin and S. Ganesh Vinayakram, The Gateway to Rhythm. DVD Mediastarz Monaco, 2007.
- "Konnakol-The Art of South Indian Vocal Percussion". Konnakol.org. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- SubashChandranMusic.com, the website of Carnatic music master Subash Chandran
- SweetSoulSound.com, the website of jazz musician and konnakol artist Arun Luthra
- PeteLockett.com, the website of percussionist Pete Lockett
- HenrikAndersenMusic.com, the website of musician and producer Henrik Andersen
- JohnMcLaughlin.com, the website of guitarist John McLaughlin
- GlennRogers.net, the website of guitarist and ethnomusicologist Glenn Rogers
- Ziz.name, the web site of Carnatic percussionist Christian Schmidhofer
- VitalInformation.com, the website of drummer Steve Smith's project Vital Information
- rhythmvocalist.com the website of rhythm vocalist Loire, A specialist in konnakol.