Music

Yodels set to Carnatic music at The Amithias Project’s Indo-German performance

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East will meet West at a performance by The Amithias Project, with the German flugelhorn keeping pace with the Carnatic flute and some Bharatanatyam footwork

What would a Bharatanatyam piece set to trumpets, flugelhorns and flutes look like? You could find out at The Amithias Project’s performance at Goethe-Institut this weekend.

The Amithias Project is headed by Bangalore-based flautist Amith Nadig and German trumpeter Matthias Schriefl. The performance will also feature Vinod Shyam Anoor on the mridangam and Sunaad Anoor on the kanjira. Bringing movement to the music will be Bharatanatayam dancer Nivedita Sharma, Amith’s wife.

The performance is part of Goethe’s MusiX series, that aims to offer innovative musical experiences. The first in this series is Amithias’ strange fusion of “world music from the Alps and India”.

The collaboration brings Jazz and Carnatic together — while Amith is a Carnatic flautist, son of flautist BK Anantharam, Matthias Schriefl is an established jazz musician. This weekend, they will be playing 12 songs, with sounds ranging from Blues to mambo, such as renditions of ‘Madrid Mambo’ and the Bharatanatyam piece ‘Jathiswaram’.

For Amithias, it is all about experimenting: “We are performing ‘Mallari’, the traditional South Indian songs played by nadaswaram artistes, and giving it a twist of Indo-German jazz. In another one of our songs, ‘Rolling Bangalore’, we try and convert sounds of the Bangalore traffic into music,” says Amith. The quartet will also imbibe the classic European yodelling into a Carnatic style, complete with complex mukhtayam in ‘Langenwanger’.

Explaining why Carnatic and Jazz go well with each other, he says, “Indian music is highly sophisticated in two aspects: it has gamakas, and it is mathematical. Jazz on the other hand has harmonies. So you have a complex rhythmic structure, on top of which you add layers of harmonies. Both Jazz and Carnatic allow scope for improvisation, so you are bringing the best of both worlds together.”

Quelling concerns of dissonance, he points out that the Indian audience has preconceived notions of what genres should sound like. “We compare what we hear with what we already know, looking to relate, and when we don’t find that, we go back disappointed.” Unlike, he claims, in Europe, where people come with a more open mind and focus their energies on understanding what is happening. “That is probably why we are more recognised there.”

The Amithias Project played at the Frankfurt jazz festival last year; they had started touring in 2012. “Mathias and I first met in 2009, when he landed in Bengaluru and attended a concert I was playing at ISKCON. He came to India because he happened to listen to Indian music in a festival in Munich, was impressed by it, and wanted to learn more,” he says. Since then, Mathias has been coming to India every year, and Amith has been travelling to Germany and other parts of Europe, to sustain their music.

The dance component of their performance was added in during their first tour in Bolzano, Italy. “My wife, Niveditha, was travelling with us, and we thought, ‘why not try dancing to a couple of songs?’ Once she did, the visual appeal of the piece provided a totally different level of connection with the audience,” he recalls.

The Amithias Project will be playing at Goethe-Institut Chennai, Nungambakkam, on January 11 from 7 pm. Entry is free.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 6:42:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/yodels-set-to-carnatic-music-at-the-amithias-projects-indo-german-performance/article30512978.ece

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