Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This is a composition I learned recently from Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, and it's lovely, groovy and very fun to play. The strokes aren't terribly complicated (then again, I'm not playing it terribly fast) but the shapes are very interesting. The theme is a reduction (aka Gopuccha Yati) 9-8-6-3 DgTnkn and it features lots of sur strokes and very active baya. Great practice, as the naDhi combinations are tricky to nail accurately at speed, lots of off-beats (1/8 & 1/4 beat), and the variations are exquisite: phrases of 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 and 3 all make an appearance; a series where sam* is hidden; compound variations with internal tihais...a real goldmine of rhythmic tools! The tihai...well, the tihai is a mind-bender to be sure ;)

About the recording:
Another exotic location! I spent 2 dreamy weeks at the Banff Centre in Alberta Canada, rehearsing and creating with my band Autorickshaw and a 5-piece brass band before going on tour. Each musician at the Banff Centre gets their own rehearsal space, in my case, a small hut. I took a portable recording solution (laptop, small USB interface and 1 microphone) to test it out for my upcoming trip to India, and I recorded this one morning to see what the setup produced, quality-wise.

My music hut in the mountains
I didn't really intend this for the blog...I was noodling a bit before playing the composition, and it didn't cut the mustard, hence the abrupt beginning. I recycled one of George Koller's dilruba tracks for the lehara.

The portable setup doesn't capture the baya as well as I'd like, but I think that's a combination of the room (tiny, soundproof), the mic, and the almost total lack of humidity in Banff, which is at an elevation of 1,463 m (4,800 ft) in the Rocky Mountains. I have never, ever had such a hard time keeping my drums in tune, but the beauty of the surroundings offset that a bit. :)

My music hut, from slightly farther away...
I performed a short (52 Kaidas-style) tabla solo in concert while we were at the Banff Centre, and I'm waiting to get a copy from them. If it's passable, I'll post it.

*Sam=the first beat of the rhythmic cycle, aka the downbeat.