Writer and singer Amit Chaudhary praised the memoir and music “Finding the raga: an improvement on Indian music” Now out of New York Review Books. In it, Chaudhary takes a personal journey that began with a Western-oriented love for the singer-songwriter tradition, followed by a major immersion in Indian classical music.
That legacy was supreme for him until an accident called “mishting” made him conscious of the elements shared by the ragas and the Western sounds – a feeling that led to his recording and performance project. “This is not fusion.”
In the book, Chaudhary reflects on the raga, the outline of Indian classical music. Resisting the urge to seek conformity to Western tradition, he writes: “A raga is not a genre. That is, it is not a linear movement. This notes, a constellation is to be together. “Elsewhere, he says that it is neither a raga nor a composition, nor is there any scale nor its totals.” In an interview, Chowdhury gave a brief introduction to the raga and described the development of his musical life from childhood to “This Is Not Fusion”. These are excerpts from the conversation.
One of the first musical experiences I sang was my mother Tagore songs. Growing up in Bombay, I remember the quiet energy of his style; It was not sentimental, but it was lively. Without realizing it, I was drawn deeply into the sensuality of the tone and tempo, and also a style that is accurate, the feeling of which is rooted in the tone rather than the extra emotion.
Of course, there was also “Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady”. I spent a while with Julie Andrews. Then, when I was 7 or 8 years old, my father bought a Hi-Fi record player, which came with a few complimentary records, which I probably played a role in choosing without being informed in any way. I think who was one of them, which I loved very much; “I Can See For Miles” was one of my favorite songs. I also had a taste for early Bee Gees and of course the Beatles.
At the age of 12, I started playing the guitar, and by the time I was 16, I was composing songs for a kind of singer-songwriter. Nevertheless, for the first time, I was attracted to Hindustani classical music.
There were some reasons. I had a teenage fascination for difficulty, and I was becoming more interested in complex tonics. I was listening to Joni Mitchell, and I loved the fact that she could be sweet, kind of open-ended in her melodious compositions, while at the same time quite complex. I knew like people too Ravi Shankar, Partly due to the Beatles. When we thought of Indian classical music, we originally thought of instrumental music: the tabla players playing really exciting rhythmic patterns, the applause at the end of their improvisational chant, and of course sitar and sarod. The vocal music sounded a bit out-of-place, mysterious.
But then I heard Vishwamdev Chatterjee – what a wonderful voice. And at this time, this person also had Govind Prasad Jaipurwale, who started teaching Hindi devotion to my mother. I realized that while teaching him, he was doing small tasks with his voice, pointing to a different kind of imagination and training. I began to be receptive to the kind of Indian classical music that I always had, but which I stopped doing. I asked my mother if I could learn classical music.
For some time, different types of music lived with each other. I played a little rock guitar. And I worked on an album that I felt was my way of becoming a singer-songwriter. My song “Shame” comes from that time. Its tune begins with a C-Sharp note, then returns to C-Sharp with the word “shame” in the chorus. It goes to that note after touching C – so the spectral notes are introduced at the end of the chorus, along with the degree of estrangement, as the cord is C major and A major. Here, I think the way I was already responding to notes in North Indian classical music creates a hypnotic effect through small changes.
Then I started practicing Indian classical music for about four and a half hours every day. And I spent a lot of time listening to music, trying to understand what is happening with the time cycles, then trying to sing and improve them. So apparently some others began to handle musical activity.
I should say that a raga is not a tune. It is not a note, not a scale, not a composition – although a raga is sung in the framework of a composition. But you can identify ragas by a particular arrangement of notes, the way they are ascending and descending; A particular pattern in climbing and a particular pattern in descent identify the raga.
You are not involved in the raga, but you can slow it down. You can avoid submission immediately. This theft is partly where imagination and creativity lie. You can climb up to the octave, and then you are basically done with a group of notes that can be sung in a song in a minute. But doing more than 30, perhaps even more than 40 minutes, – which becomes a detailed idea of creation, explores different ways of not only babbling or telling, but also saying. This is especially the case here.
The extended time cycle allows you to locate these notes, so that the ascent and descent can be done very slowly. The ear can detect a faster version of the ikatla rhythmic system, which sounds like the normal version.
Now, when that added space occurs, you don’t keep time in a general sense, but you know that the 12 beats of ictal have been multiplied, each one by four beats, until it’s finished, and you’re back. Let’s get started.
So this kind of time is left for the song and to expand a bit on the progress. This is an extraordinary modernist development. You can hear it in Raga Darbari by Ustad Amir Khan. This is an amazing recording.
Ragas are basically found substances. Indians may say that there are 83 or one thousand of them; I don’t know No more than 50 ragas are sung in the North Indian classical tradition today. And there are probably 30 that you listen to again and again, in view of the fact that we do not listen to the ragas in the morning and afternoon because the music is in the evening.
This is because ragas have specific times and seasons. The raga is associated with Sri Saanjh and Sham.
And the raga spring, which has almost identical notes, is sung in the spring.
If architecture is a language with which to understand space and time, then raga is. It is also like language. For example, you do not use the word evening to refer to morning. Similarly, you do not sing Raga Bhairava in the morning in the evening. With the recording, however, you can listen to the ragas at any time of the day if you wish. Until the recording studio came along, ragas came into life only from time to time.
So it was mainly music that I practiced. The singer-songwriter had gone into permanent retirement. But in the late 1990s, I had the passion for that conversion when I was younger, which had passed, and I started returning to my record collection and listening to Jimi Hendrix. Bent notes, blues, raga Gujari Todi – it all came together as I was listening. When I thought I had a moment of “screaming” “Layla” In that raga.
A week or two later, it happened again. I was standing in the lobby of a hotel and someone was playing this Kashmiri instrument, and suddenly it was launched in “Aulia Lang”. Of course, it was not. But then I thought: Is it possible to create a musical vocabulary – consciously, not to bring things together in the East and the West, but to capture the kind of instability of who I am and everything I did in that moment Had also discovered his prosperity. And that’s why I call it “not fusion”.
“Summer” Happened around the time that I was building these pieces. In it, I’m improvising on the raga malkauns, but as “Summertime”, an early type of jazz composition based on the blues. I am showing that according to this form it is possible to improvise on malkuns, which a jazz pianist does. But I am bringing in another tradition.
Talking in the same “Norwegian Wood.” I am taking Raga Bageshri and working on the space that each bit gives me. “I was once a girl, or should I say she once belonged to me” – which gives me room to improvise on those notes. What I am doing is a feature of Khyal. So I’ll say it again, it’s not fusion, because fusion artists don’t do it. What they do is they sing their stuff in a Western setting.
The discovery of these ideas has been deeply satisfying. Is my musical journey complete? I did not go back to become a singer-songwriter, but I have brought everything I know. If you are a creative artist, the things you know come to you in some way. I am very lucky that happened to me.