Music

Sufi and all that jazz

Kanishk Seth married Khusrow’s poetry with the groovy beats of electronic music and trance for his audience at Wandering Artist

The intimate gathering at Wandering Artist swayed their heads and nodded in approval, as they listened to Kanishk Seth, a young upcoming musician, equipped with a console, mixer and a MacBook, experimenting with Sufi music. Seth, music composer, producer and singer, along with Devashri Manohar, a classical singer, transported the room full of people into the world of Sufi poetry interspersed with electronic music and trance.

“My interest in classical forms of music was fostered since childhood. I used to wake up listening to my mother practising ghazals and Sufi music at home,” says Seth who credits his inclination towards the genre to his mother and Sufi singer Kavita Seth, a known name in Bollywood. According to Seth, his music has an organic inclination towards classical forms and at the same time, the poetry and its meaning. “I used to listen to lesser- known underground electronic music bands and that’s when I came across trance and was instantly hooked. Thanks to artists like Armin Van Buuren,” says Seth. His music is a contemporary take on Sufi poetry and is aimed at attracting more people to this almost forgotten genre.

With a brief introduction to Sufism and Amir Khusrow, the legendary Sufi musician, poet and scholar, Seth livened the audience. His informal demeanour helped him become one among the audience. Some technical glitches aside, Seth, with his casual conversations, was able to connect almost instantly with the audience. This did not tire him either, so much so he wanted to perform the same song a second time, promising that it would sound better and undoubtedly it did. Thus came the mellifluous tunes of ‘Rangi Sari’ a second time. He gestured a thumbs-up at us and continued. As he arranged music for the impeccable voice of Manohar, he was evidently lost in the music, aided by the effortless rendition of the former.

Sufi and all that jazz

Seth was 14 years old when he made his first album with his mother, Trance with Khusrow, an amalgamation of trance and Sufi music which was born out of a 10-minute-loop he had happened to compose unexpectedly. “I asked my mother to sing however she wanted to with my loop as backing. In fact, one of the songs in that album was done in one take,” recalls Seth who had always wanted to compose music since he was a child.

“Most often, it is about the experience. Some people think that electronic music is jarring. It is about balancing the two genres. It’s about retaining the original composition and its authenticity but making it refreshing,” says Seth who has got mixed reactions from the crowd down South. Though the initial reaction from the Chennai audience when he performed in IIT was disappointing, towards the end, people who had connected had came forward to comment on the new genre. “I have performed in a cafe-like as well as a community-like setting. We are talking about two completely different age-groups. Though the way they expressed it was different, both the groups enjoyed it really well,” says Seth.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 1:40:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/sufi-and-all-that-jazz/article24502016.ece

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