Scaling new paths of discovery

Jazz musician Rotem Sivan opens up about his love for Indian music and his passion to share his vast repertory of sound knowledge

There’s something magical about jazz; its allure and sensibility takes on a new direction every time it is presented. And that is the direction Israeli-born, America-based jazz composer and guitarist Rotem Sivan loves to give to his audience whenever he performs.

Coming to the country for the first time, the exceptionally-gifted and talented artiste will be delivering a workshop and performance presented by Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music this weekend.

India is a beautiful place, says Rotem. “One of the main reasons I came here is because I am a big fan of Indian music. Although, I haven’t studied Indian music formally, I’m interested in the culture and music of India. I love rhythms and the rhythmic aspect of Indian music is far beyond any music. I hope to take back as much as possible during my stay here.”

Coming from a culturally rich background, Rotem finds similarities in the music of both countries. “The music in Israel comes from a lot of different influences and mixing of cultures, which is predominantly European and Middle Eastern. The semi-tones and different intervals are closer to Indian music, rather than Western. I feel the Indian Classical tradition is probably one of the most impressive in the world. It has thousands of years of development and the level of musicianship is just unbelievable. So for me, coming here to experience it first hand is like stepping into another universe.”

Rotem looks at music as a universal language. “We’re all the same. I wish whoever comes to listen to my music feels better at the end of the show. I share a little bit of life and love. These times are not simple times, and I feel art and music are extremely important these days. You can disconnect from all the things happening around you and for an hour, enjoy something as a collective and not think about things that don’t matter at all. I try to connect with people that way.”

After his studies in classical composition in Jerusalem, Rotem moved to New York to study jazz performance and contemporary music.

Looking back, he says he remembers listening to music, jazz specifically, as a teen. “A friend of my brother’s gave me a few CDs. I remember listening to it and not understanding what’s going on at all,” he laughs and adds: “I remember thinking to myself; ‘Wow! This is a world I don’t understand and yet, I want to be part of it.’ That feeling of experiencing something that you can’t really grasp was fascinating. It still is.”

He points out that he feels the same when it comes to Indian music. “It is a world I don’t know. So when I learn a little bit, I feel like I’m discovering a new universe – That feeling always drives me forward.”

Looking at his journey so far, Rotem points out that along the way you change and see things differently.

“I studied classical music and then moved to New York to study jazz. I started wanting to play jazz and swing. Now I’m concentrating more on original compositions and trying to infuse different ideas into jazz. The beautiful thing about jazz is that it is a very open platform that allows you to, as a musician, explore and express different sounds. My stay here in India is definitely going to influence my music.”

So what does jazz means to you? Rotem says for him, it is the ability to improvise and create within a certain platform.

“And I’m not going to be specific since there are different kinds of jazz and they are all jazz. If you think about it, the great composers, Chopin and Mozart, they played jazz – that they could improvise on the spot, using the language of music.”

So what drives him to share his knowledge of music through workshops and the Internet? He says sharing is very important. “I have had the opportunity to meet and study with people who are great and perform with amazing musicians. So I want to share that experience. It is a way to help people get where they want. If I had known the things I know now, earlier, it would have helped me.”

Two things he always tells people he shares his knowledge with are: “Everything is possible and enjoy the journey. We’re not all trying to be the best. Enjoy the beautiful things on the way. That is music – the road itself.”

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 2:05:15 AM |

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