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The New Times of India

View my page on Drums and Tabla Connection

A music project for east-west integration
by Riccardo Misto, italian musician and musictherapist

Main aspect of this project is the improvement of intercultural exchange between eastern and western musical approach, with a particular attention to Indian subcontinent area. It’s a long time that Hindustani and Carnatic music play an important role in the fusion process with west: from the first echoes present in some 60’pop music hits (Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones ecc.) to the deep and more articulated contamination, in a jazz key, realized by pioneer of fusion, John McLaughlin, with his group Shakti and, recently, with the recordings made in Chennai, where we can hear the young lions of Indian music, you can see how stimulating and interesting may be the dialogue between the two cultures. All this innovative ferment you find in the tracks of the new McLaughlin work “Floating Point”, where you can listen to very interesting east-west contaminations.
The very new aspect of the modern musical dialogue between west and India is the great mastering of harmonic structures that some Indian musician are showing, yet keeping live and present their legacy with the classical roots of Raga. We can say that now the dialogue between the two worlds is more equal and complete: if in the past the Indian musician were the teachers, now we can see how they are more interested to western culture and instruments: starting from the typical drum set, going through synth keyboards and the modernisation of others (guitar and sitar, in the new transformation in zitar, elettrified and played in a very close-to-guitar way by Niladri Kumar).


Starting from this mixing and reciprocal influence, the project “The Times of India” promotes the meeting and the cultural exchange moving just from that instrument, the western drumset, which among all, is the most distant from Indian musical tradition (strongly rooted in tabla, mridangam, pakhawaj and gatham, the typical percussions), but in which are more and more interested the Indian musicians sensitive to contamination between the two cultures.
The program will be articulated in two main directions, one with a didactic/divulger character, and another more specifically musical.
The musical proposal is based on "Tabla & Drums Connection" program, where the classical indian “Raga” is enriched and developed with the use of drum set, in constant dialogue and interaction with the tabla. By this way, yet in the respect of classical tradition, the expressive possibilities are enlarged, making a fusion of two different percussive sets , and so creating a further east-west bridge.
Drum set is the propulsive motor of western music (pop, rock or jazz), and its articulated set allows the use of all player’s physical structure, getting coordinated movements of upper and lower limbs.

Didactic/divulger program, based on drum set, forecasts a theoretic phase about the different rhythmic structures, a specific knowledge and analysis of all the physical elements (drums, heads, cymbals, hardware, accessories, ecc.) and the most advanced executive techniques. Besides the standard rhythms of western music (light or folk) a special section will concern the possible connections with rhythmic models of Indian music (tala), so to make possible and harmonious the insert of a drum set in the accompaniment of a typical raga.
The program, developed in a theoretic/practical manual, will be directed to professional musicians and also to people which for the first time go approaching this instrument.
A particular attention will be made to children and the possible applications in a therapeutic setting, considering the various pathologies concerning attention/ concentration/ memory and speech and behaviour disturbs (hyperactivity, aggressive and communication difficulties). All in association with Indian konnacol system.

The final phase of this project will be a series of live performances, in which will be presented the different way of playing the drums in various contexts (western music, classical raga, fusion music and musictherapy setting). The program, in the spirit of a 360 degrees communication, will find application as in Europe as in India, with Kolkata as a starting point, with the precious help of Partho Sarothy, intelligent and mindopened to sperimentation musician and oriented to the meeting of different cultures.
This project will be realized with concerts, lectures, seminars and other cultural programs. It could be a very useful way to increase the interest of young western generations to the beauty of Indian classical music.

All the project will be documentated in a musical CD realised in Kolkata with Indian musicians, where will be recorded two compositions: one based upon the introduction of drumset in a typical classical Raga, and another upon the use of Indian instruments in a western musical atmosphere.
There will be also a DVD with a booklet in which will be resumed all the working phases, from the starting idea to the final products.

August 2008
The original project has changed a little: the first experimentation will occur in Berlin, with German sitarist Christian Noçon, on December 2008/January 2009.

On august 9, 2008 I asked to Christian Noçon, sitarist from Berlin known on Overtones Music Network, if he was interested to do some experimentations with my drumset in his music, according to my project “drums and tabla connection”. On august 25 he wrote me asking which kind of collaboration I was intended to start, if a live one or by email (sending me tracks). I suggested him to start overdubbing my drums on some recordings of his sitar, to study practising with my drumset, with the idea to play then together in a live context, with tabla and tanpura players.
So, on august 26, he sent me by skype five mp3 files of his sitar recording of Raga Bhatyiar and Raga Bhairav (included in my playlist here) on which now I will work with my drumset to make a good arrangement and so realize the first step of drums and tabla connection project.
On december 2008, when he is back home from Kolkata, we’ll meet us in Berlin to play together, do some rehearsals and, I hope, some live performances.

October 2008
The first concert of "Drums & Tabla Connection" project is scheduled for 3 january 2009 in Berlin, at "Zimmer 16 - camera dell'arte". Florastr. 16
On tabla there will be polyinstrumentalst Aki Montoya.

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