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German pianist Gero Koerner wants to learn 'Bollywood music'

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German pianist Gero Koerner believes musical snobbery is self-defeating

People should be more open minded about music without fussing too much about style or genre, feels Gero Koerner, a pianist from Germany, who was recently in the city to conduct a series of workshops.

Gero says students often ask if they ‘can’ play a certain way. “I tell them to go with their individual style of expression. If it sounds right to you, you’ve got it; if it doesn’t, then you can improve on it. The result, even if it sounds like a mix of 10 different styles, will only enrich music, not spoil it.”

The artiste, whose range includes classical, jazz and rock, says he fought a similar mindset as a student. “When I moved from classical music to jazz, my teacher said, ‘Your career is over because you’re playing the wrong music’,” he recalls. Again, when he began learning rock, he was told it was a cheap style and that he was artistically ruined.

“Classical music styles, whether Indian or Western, are precise and structured, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with other genres. I feel it is the same as learning multiple languages, without losing mastery over your mother tongue.”

German pianist Gero Koerner wants to learn 'Bollywood music'

Gero started learning classical music at the age of five. “By the time I was 10, I was sure I wanted to be a musician for the rest of my life. The piano is my instrument, though I did dabble for a bit with the trumpet as a teenager,” he says.

While Gero is all for the exploration of one’s musical identity, he believes there should be a clear understanding of musical genres and their roots. “That is just my way of understanding music. When I began learning classical music, I was blessed to have an instructor from The Moscow Conservatory; they have a profound manner of teaching the classics there.”

Gero, whose personal musical tastes include Queen, jazz from the 30s to the 70s and Japanese pop music, says, “I like music. The globe is shrinking, especially where music is concerned. When I hear a piece I like, I try to find out more about it.”

While Germany is his home, Gero’s wife is a Tibetan who resides in India, so now he is trying to learn more about Indian classical music. “And a little bit about Bollywood too,” he adds with a laugh.

“We turn to different kinds of music for different moods, there is no such thing as bad music. Music is the language of the heart and starts where our words fail; music carries the emotion across. That has nothing to do with styles or genres,” he says, adding: “My aim as a musician is to have a cosmopolitan point of view; it is the future of human culture, to go beyond borders, race, religion and other barriers that separate. Culture is fundamentally similar — things just look, sound or taste different.”

“An understanding of this brings peace. Peace is never guaranteed and if my music goes beyond just entertaining and performs a spiritual function, I would be truly happy. That is what music is about and that is why we are musicians.”

Gero, who finds India fascinating and has visited Mysore, Delhi, Dharamsala and Dehradun, says a trip to Mumbai, ‘the place of Bollywood music’ is on his bucket list.

Musical syntax

According to Gero, there is a correlation between music and grammar. “Both are used for communication and follow a systematic structure. Every language has a melody and I learn a language by following the cadence of its sounds. Just like the learning of a language is emotional, intuitive and comes from listening, the same is true of music.”

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 9:30:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/let-the-music-play/article28708033.ece

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