Tuesday, 27 October 2009
I decided to post a short excerpt of my tabla solo performance from this past October 1. In this clip, I play a common Benares bant, with palta improvised through subdivisions of 4, 5, 6, 7, and finally 8. This is followed by a rela, with a couple of gat-in-rela (one Punjabi gat and one Benarsi gat), concluding with a tihai. Cello lehra is played by Jacob Charkey.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
This afternoon, I had the great fortune to present my first performance for Bharatiya Sangeetha Sangam. When I first began to learn about tabla and Indian music, all the Indian music concerts in Montreal back then were organised by BSS. To be performing for them now is a big honour. The programme was organised by BSS in collaboration with Sinha Dance and Manijeh Ali's new QuebeAsia dance series. This was a dance recital featuring Bharata Natyam dancer, Dr. Janaki Rangarajan, and kathak dancer Sudeshna Maulik. Sudeshna was accompanied by Jacob Charkey on cello, and myself on tabla.
The performance opened with an invocation to Shiva by each dancer; first Janaki Rangarajan and then Sudeshna Maulik. After this, Janaki performed three Bharata Natyam pieces; her own choreographies. This was followed by Sudeshna's kathak solo, accompanied by Jacob Charkey (cello) and myself on tabla. Jake performed a short alap, followed by my short tabla uthaan in vilambit teentaal. After this, we accompanied Sudeshna through vilambit, madhya, and drut teentaal. After this, Sudeshna danced a piece relating to the festival of Holi.
For the curtain call, Janaki and Sudeshna asked Jake and I to accompany them for an impromptu dance duet. While it was certainly brief, I was very happy to at least be able to accompany Janaki and Sudeshna together for that short time. While I am certainly not an expert on Bharata Natyam, I can say that Janaki is a Bharata Natyam dancer of the highest calibre; her movements are very clear and crisp, she is very rhythmically precise, and her performance was filled with great subtleties.
Of course, you have already seen me write about Sudeshna's performances; we have been performing together quite often since our first performances together in June of this year. As always, she danced amazingly.
I would also like to write a little about QuebeAsia. There were performances held every evening, from October 22 through 24, plus the above performance today, October 25. October 22 was a presentation of dance forms of Islamic inspiration by Manijeh Ali, Amrita Choudhury, and Sudeshna Maulik. October 23 was focused on contemporary interpretations of Indian classical dance forms, with performances by Sonia Lopez (the poem Chitrangada, interpreted in Odissi dance), Sudeshna Maulik (her kathak piece, Mystical Water), and Manijeh Ali's interpretation of Janaki Rangarajan's choreography, Thandavum. Unfortunately, I missed the contemporary dance performances on October 24 by Roger Sinha, Reena Almoneda-Chang, Manijeh Ali, and Justine Ricard. All in all, a great initiative by local dancer, Manijeh Ali. I look forward to future editions of the QuebeAsia series!
Friday, 23 October 2009
As software for Indian classical music is somewhat rare, I am happy to spread news of the release of Prasad Upasani's iLehra for iPhone and iPod Touch. Unfortunately, I don't own either of these, so I am unable to do a hands-on review. (Prasadji has also programmed a great-sounding iTanpura software.)
Previously, for students of tabla and dance, one would need to buy a costly Nagma machine, or program lehra melodies into a music sequencing program. iLehra is a fully-featured lehra program, with built-in tanpura and lehra. It is possible to set the pitch, tempo, and instrument of the lehra.
Features list from the iLehra website:
Lehras in all common taals including Teentaal, Ektaal, Jhaptaal, Rupak, Dadra, Keherva, Chautal and Dhamar (more coming soon)
Choice of instruments including harmonium and violin (more coming soon)
Extremely accurate tempo tested to within 1 milli-second
Each lehra has three variations for slow, medium and fast tempos for more natural-sounding lehras
Beautiful tanpura auto-tuned to pitch and raag of lehra
bpm = beats per minute)Wide range of tempo from 30bpm to 300bpm (
vilambit, madhya, drut) based on tempo sliderAutomatic range selection (
or +). Every click changes the tempo by 1bpmExtremely precise control of tempo by clicking on the slider endpoints (-
Displays current matra being played
Full octave of pitch adjustments from C through B with precise fine-tuning of pitch
Can be used with speakers, headset, or the internal speaker. A high-quality speaker dock is recommended for maximum effect.
The YouTube video gives a pretty good idea of what the software is like. It appears to be quite simple to use. The sound quality is decent, but can probably be improved in future versions. I'd really like to hear a nice sarangi sound. Another feature I'd like to see is the ability to program new melodies, save them, and be able to share with other users. In any case, I am personally unable to use this software since I don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch. I'd really love to see a version of this software for Blackberry! Any programmers up to the challenge?
For those tabla players and dancers with the required hardware, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this software. Available for purchase in the Apple App Store.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Last Saturday, September 25, I gave a live interview at Radio Canada Première Chaîne, which is Canada's national French-language radio network. Host Jacques Bertrand of the show La tête ailleurs invited me to speak about tabla, Indian music, and Indian cooking for a segment entitled De bouffe à oreille, which roughly translates to "from food to ear." Guests are invited to present some type of food, along with music that one might associate with that food. In my case, it was simple - tabla and daal!
They've chosen to include my interview in their 'best of' archives (yay!). To hear the interview (in French, of course!), please follow this link.
So far, one reader of the Radio Canada website commented that she liked the interview, but wished they had posted my recipe for daal! Maybe I will work on writing it down... Not that it's anything unique. I am just trying my best to copy what I have eaten numerous times at Guruji's (Pandit Sharda Sahai's) house.
Wow, October is looking to be a great month for tabla in Montreal! Here's a rundown of events this month:
Oct. 1 - I performed at Tanna Schulich Hall (McGill University) with kathak dancer, Sudeshna Maulik, and cellist Jake Charkey. We opened with Jake performing Raag Durga; a composition set to Jhaptaal (10 beats). I then followed with a medium-length tabla solo of about 30 minutes in vilambit and madhya Teentaal (16 beats). After a short break, Jake and I accompanied Sudeshna through vilambit, madhya, and drut Teentaal.
Oct. 3 - I performed with sitarist Uwe Neumann at a house concert in celebration of Diwali. Somewhat early for Diwali, but it was great fun and the audience was so receptive to our performance. What a pleasure!
Saturday, October 10 at 6pm - Performances by sitarist Shakir Khan (son of Ustad Shahid Parvez) and vocalist Esha Bandyopadhyay, accompanied by Hindol Majumdar on tabla. Kathak dancer Sudeshna Maulik will open the evening with a short performance as well. Ecole Saint-Henri Auditorium, 4115 Saint-Jacques West, Montreal. Tickets are 15$ and 10$.
October 19-29 - Ok, not quite a concert or performance series, but worth mentioning - Cinema du Parc is again presenting its popular series, Made in India. Ten days of Bollywood movies on the big screen!
October 22-24 - The QuébéAsia dance festival, featuring numerous dancers from Quebec, and representing a wide range of Asian dance forms. Participants include Manijeh Ali, Reena Almoneda-Chang, Amrita Choudhury, Sonia Lopez, Sudeshna Maulik, Janaki Rangarajan, Justine Ricard, and Roger Sinha. Each evening's performance is entirely different, and will feature different artists and different styles. All activities are taking place at Art Neuf, 3819 rue Calixa-Lavalée in Montreal. There are also a few workshops being offered for dance professionals and amateurs alike. (I think that this new dance festival is a great initiative, and I hope that it will continue in the years to come. The only unfortunate aspect in my opinion, is that as far as I know, none of the dancers will be performing with live musicians.)
Saturday, October 24 at 5:20pm- Drummer Steve Smith and percussionist Pete Lockett will be giving a drumset workshop at the Montreal DrumFest. They will be speaking about the application of Indian rhythms (Hindustani and Carnatic) to drumset and other percussion. For more information on their session, click here. All events are taking place at Salle Pierre Mercure, 300 de Maisonneuve East, Montreal.
Saturday, October 24 at 7:30pm - The Kabir Centre presents sitarist Irshad Khan, accompanied by Hindol Majumdar on tabla. Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, 7141 Sherbrooke West, Montreal.
Obviously there are too many things happening on October 24!
Sunday, October 25 at 3pm - Bharatiya Sangeetha Sangham presents an afternoon of Kathak and Bharatanatyam dance with Sudeshna Maulik and Janaki Rangarajan. Sudeshna will be accompanied by myself on tabla and Jake Charkey on cello. The performance will take place at Champlain Regional College, 900 rue Riverside, Saint-Lambert. Tickets are 15$ and 10$
Monday, October 26 at 7pm - KoSA Academy is hosting percussionist Pete Lockett for a workshop on the application of Indian rhythms to drumset and other percussion. KoSA Centre des Arts, 5325 rue Crowley, Montreal. Tickets are 30$.
So, as you can see, October is a great month for Indian culture in Montreal. Time to go out and enjoy some performances!