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RAGA AND RHYTHM At the
RAGA AND RHYTHM At the "Music with an Indian Soul" concert

The new album by guitarist Nadaka and the Basavaraj Brothers is a mix of Hindustani and Carnatic music, says DEEPA H RAMAKRISHNAN

If after a concert or a movie, you return home with music on your lips, in your mind and heart, it means it has touched your soul. And the music did touch the soul. It was an evening of fusion of Hindustani and Carnatic music that guitarist Nadaka and the Basavaraj Brothers treated the audience at the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in Auroville to. After a scintillating performance that featured ragas Gambeera Natai, Chakravaham, Thilang, Hamsadhwani and Abheri, CD and DVD of the group's "Music with an Indian soul" (recorded after their European tour) were released. Of the Basavaraj Brothers, Subba Rao, who plays the ghatam couldn't make it to the performance, but the others, Ganesh (on tabla), Balasai (flute), B. V. Raghavendra Rao (violin) and Sivaramakrishna (sitar), jelled well with Nadaka's guitar. Kesavan played the mridangam and kanjira.Though Nadaka hails from Canada, he fell in love with Carnatic music when he came to India as a teenager. A self-taught musician, he played the veena for some time but came back to his original instrument, the guitar, which he has adapted to play Carnatic ragas. "I work on my own and in a very disciplined manner. I practise the authentic Carnatic passages everyday. But during performances I improvise," says Nadaka. "I have picked up a lot from other musicians such as violinists Ganesh-Kumaresh and ghatam maestro Vikku Vinayakram. Of course, I have had gurus but they were more friends than teachers.""Music with an Indian Soul" was recorded in Paris. "We were in this small place which is known for quality sound. We were playing our instruments and the studio-in-charge asked us if he could record the music. We agreed and a friend recorded the video. And when we came back to India and saw the recordings it was mind blowing. I wanted to create a new album and not repeat what we had already done," says Nadaka.Raghavendra Rao, violinist, who has accompanied many a Carnatic musicians and has played in fusion concerts, says, "We have known Nadaka for the past 5 to 6 years. Working with him has been quite an experience."

Idea for an album

On how they met Nadaka, Raghavendra recalls, "Nadaka wanted a good violinist and Vikku sir suggested my name. While I was playing something for him, he overheard my brothers playing the flute and the tabla in another room. And he expressed his desire to work on an album with us. So, we recorded `Living Colours' which took about six months. Everybody in our home composes music and that's an advantage when we want to do something new. There is a flow of ideas."The brothers hail from a family of musicians. Their father Sudharshana Rao Basavaraj, a reputed flautist from Andhra Pradesh, has worked with leading Tamil film music directors including K. V. Mahadevan and M. S. Viswanathan. He wanted his sons to learn Carnatic music and hence gave them each an instrument when they were quite young. Nadaka is at present designing a new guitar, which will be like a harp guitar with 6+9+2 (talam strings) and may even have a tambura within it. "Developing this instrument is a lifetime's work," says the guitarist.

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