Charu Hariharan’s song ‘Flight of Joy’ blends Indian classical and the western

Malayalam musician-composer Charu Hariharan on collaborating with Greek drummer Panos Vassilopoulos for the experimental soundtrack

January 27, 2021 10:13 am | Updated 10:39 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Charu Hariharan

Charu Hariharan


In musician and composer Charu Hariharan’s new crossover collaboration ‘Flight of Joy’, the East tunefully meets the West where the rhythm of percussion blends with the dulcet melody of Carnatic music. Joining hands with Greek drummer Panos Vassilopoulos, Charu’s ‘Flight of Joy’ is an amalgam of jazz and Indian classical influences. The experimental track was released on the YouTube channel Women of Rhythm, a concert-based organisation that promotes women percussionists, on January 23.

“I am attuned to going on music tours ordinarily but there was not much professional work since the pandemic struck. During the lockdown, Panos had contacted me after watching a mridangam performance of mine during one of Women of Rhythm’s shows. We then discussed working on a crossover collaboration,” says the Thiruvananthapuram-based musician.

Production was done virtually, with Panos working from Greece and Charu from a studio in Thiruvananthapuram. The song, which also weaves in a konnakol solo by Charu and a drum solo by Panos, features Berklee College of Music alumnus, Julian Schoming, from Washington DC on the keys and Chennai-based guitarist Vagu Mazan on the electric bass. ‘Flight of Joy’ has Charu lending her voice in one of her own compositions for the first time.

Greek drummer Panos Vassilopoulos

Greek drummer Panos Vassilopoulos

Charu says she made an attempt to bring in a difference to the beats. “Typically, we see a cycle of four or eight beats, but in ‘Flight of Joy’, we went with nine. I conceptualised the number in uptempo and utilised the four minutes to the fullest,” she says, adding that cross blends are more symphonic in uptempo.

The music video was edited by Panos. “Perhaps, one reason why we could pull this thing off with ease, despite working virtually, is that we all gave each other full freedom for one’s artistic expression,” she explains. Charu’s last tinseltown work was for the Malayalam film Oru Caribbean Udayippu in 2019.

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