Sunday, March 13, 2016

Har Tajurbe Ko - original composition feat. Subhamita Bannerjee coming soon

TEN years since I started this blog. (Well, almost.) Amidst some philosophizing and soul-searching that've resulted in a few write-ups on music, the last decade has been filled with some wonderful (though not very frequent) musical collaborations both online and offline. In September of 2009 I had what's easily been the single most life-changing musical experience for me so far: I got to perform with Pt. Ravi Shankar's ensemble in Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles. As rewarding as the experience itself was, it also gave me the opportunity to build some invaluable musical connections. In particular, I've been very fortunate to have collaborated with two amazing musicians I met there: Ravichandra Kulur and Subhamita Bannerjee. Brindavani - a flute-centric piece I composed a couple years ago and played impeccably by Kulur-ji was the first of these collaborations. But in fact, although we managed to finish and release that piece first (in 2013), what I had originally thought of requesting Kulur-ji to play for was a ghazal-esque song that I had composed. Play he did - and gorgeously of course - but the song never saw the light of the day.

The genesis of the song started with Ajay Chandran's lovely lyrics. One day back in grad school I caught myself humming a tune that was a mishmash of the ragas Varamu and Hindolam. The two ragas differ in just one note: the dhaivatham, and I thought a raga that combined the two sounded really beautiful and I wanted to come up with something. I felt the mood of the raga would best suit something ghazal-like. I immediately went to Ajay Chandran's blog and found a poem that I liked a lot: har tajurbe. I came up with a basic tune for it and soon decided that it had to be sung by someone else. Although it was me who'd come up with the tune, execution was another ball game altogether and I was unhappy with my own rendition since I felt I was totally "Carnaticizing" it. I then approached Subhamita-di to sing it and she graciously obliged. She's brought so much life into this song with her mellifluous rendering and I will be eternally grateful to her.

The next big question of course was, who'd arrange it?! After keeping the song hibernating for years I finally approached Vijay Kannan - an extremely talented and popular flautist and arranger. He immediately agreed to work on it and I think he's done a fabulous job. After composing the song in 2012, and having Kulur-ji play for it the same year, and having Subhamita-di sing it the following year, I tried unsuccessfully to resurrect this song multiple times in the years that followed. It's finally done now - and for being able to revive and complete it, a BIG shoutout to Vijay. And sorry Vijay, for being a pain through the process ;)

There's a certain unparalleled joy in conceiving of something and then completely letting it go out of your hands and just watching others realize it. One part of me thinks that's euphemism for plain laziness, but what good is a PhD if your super power is not intellectualizing the mundane as a means to escapism: so I'm just going to say, distributed cognition for the win. (No but seriously, I mean it.)

The song is all done and will be out soon - watch out for it! And thanks in advance for listening ;)