Music

Sufis and saxophone

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Rajasthani folk band Swaraag says since we Indians celebrate everything, musicians like them can thrive

A Sufi poem hitches a ride on a saxophone, taking along with it the beats of a tabla and a drum, the rhythm of a khartal and morchang (Rajasthani instruments) and finally surrounds itself with the soothing vibrations from a traditional sitar and an acoustic guitar. Sounds from the Eastern and Western hemispheres, blend together to create the trademark music stamp of Swaraag, a Rajasthani folk fusion and Sufi fusion band. The band was runner-up in the musical reality show, Rising Star 3.

Swaraag, founded by Pratap Singh Nirwan and Arif Khan in 2014 at Jaipur, has conducted over a thousand performances across the country including concerts, corporate events, weddings and college festivals. “When we started, one of my business acquaintances told me there is a season for everything, be it corporate events or weddings and I used to think so too,” says Pratap. They were in the city to play at a wedding.

He says, “But good music is always in season.” He attributes this influx of opportunities to the way “Indians celebrate everything”, from a child’s first birthday or a daughter's wedding to a grandparent’s 80th birthday. He remembers how a senior couple thanked the band at a wedding for making them dance after 15 long years.

The band performs Rajasthani folk fusion, Sufi fusion and instrumental fusion. They also play fast Bollywood dance numbers if the audience requests. “Playing in different parts of the county, from Himachal Pradesh to Goa, not everybody in the audience understands the lyrics but they always groove to it’s beat and rhythm.” He says that each part of the country has its unique style of music and that Swaraag aims to take the spirit of Rajasthani folk music and Sufi fusion to all corners of the country. They fit comfortably in the gap left by Western and classical styles and perform their unique blend of music by fusing together these different modes of musical expression on stage.

The band consists of seven members - singer Asif Khan, Arif Khan the sitar player, drummer Sajid Khan, Tasruf Ali on the saxophone, tabla by Seif Ali Khan, Rey Rozerr plays the acoustic guitar and the Rajasthani instruments khartal and morchang are played by Arif Khan (the band has two Arif Khans).

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:43:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/rajasthani-folk-band-swaraag-says-since-we-celebrate-everything-musicians-like-them-can-thrive/article30048892.ece

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