The Hindu November Fest

Bombay Jayashri and Abhishek Raghuram on a musical Yatra

Bombay Jayashri

Bombay Jayashri   | Photo Credit: R_RAVINDRAN

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Bombay Jayashri and Abhishek Raghuram will perform ‘Yatra: A Journey Within’ at The Hindu November Fest

Bombay Jayashri Ramnath and Abhishek Raghuram share their views on what qualifies a true collaboration and the process of curating it.

The long of It!

As vocalists, who often perform solo, what is the shift that occurs when you share the stage with another vocalist?

Bombay Jayashri (BJ): For starters, you should be able to appreciate each other’s style and aesthetics. As a soloist, who is often listening to her/his accompanying musicians, the interesting thing about sharing space with another vocalist is to listen to another voice and see how the music, in the company of another voice, creates a new experience.

Abhishek Raghuram (AR): I’ll answer that question very simply. As an artiste, as you accumulate performing experience, what interests a musician is the act of creating music together and performing it, together.

Abhishek Raghuram

Abhishek Raghuram   | Photo Credit: R_RAVINDRAN

You both have collaborative experiences. What is about it you enjoy the most and how do you think a collaboration enriches your music?

BJ: When it comes to a collaboration, there is enrichment from the word go. The entire process leading up to a performance is a journey in itself; there are rehearsals and conversations; ideas are thrown around and that entire experience allows you a peek into the musicality of the artistes you are collaborating with. You are in a sense, a rasika but sitting next to an artiste and seeing her/him, up-close. It is a learning of sorts.

AR: I think what I enjoy the most is the act of rehearsing together with a host of very inspired and inspiring musicians. A collaboration is really an opportunity to interact with these musicians and get to know their perspective. For me, to perform with artistes like Murad Ali ji, Ravichandra Kulur ji, Anantha Krishnan and Ojas Adhiya ji, is really a privilege; I’m a huge follower of their music and I’m looking forward to creative conversations with them.

Talk to us about the process that goes into preparing for a concert like this? How much room there is for improvisation and how much of it is rehearsed?

BJ: I think it’s difficult to talk about spontaneity and rehearsed music because sometimes the lines tend to blur. Over the course of the weeks leading up to a collaboration, there’s a great amount of engagement that happens and what fascinates me is how the same music has a different sound and personality when it is handled by another. Sometimes, one of the members makes a suggestion that we decide we must incorporate; at other times, we allow things to take their natural course.

AR: I had the opportunity to perform with Jayashri ji back in 2016 when we toured a production. That opportunity allowed us to get to know each other’s music. Honestly, as far as the process is concerned, when we sit down to practise, there is no difference really between a rehearsal and a performance. This is true even when it comes to a solo. Everything I present in a solo is a culmination of years of rehearsal and over time, one attains a certain grip over it that the experience becomes natural.

What, according to you, is the true spirit of collaboration and how does one cultivate it?

BJ: I think the crucial thing about a collaboration is to have a thirst for something new. In a solo, somehow you are lonely and by yourself but when you are collaborating with another artiste, there is a sense of togetherness and that, in a sense, is also full of sweet surprises.

AR: For me, what is important, collaboration or otherwise, is to sing with people who inspire me. The important thing is to learn something from everyone who has something to share and that’s what a collaboration is about. It’s the possibility to expand your horizon and grow as a musician. Else, we may remain where we are.

What is the role of musical banis (lineage) in the context of a collaboration? How important is to be exposed to the music of the other before even attempting a collaboration?

BJ: I think a collaboration is really a dialogue. Sometimes I’ve engaged in a conversation with an artiste whose music I’ve hardly known or engaged with, but within a few moments, I get a sense of how things are going to work. At other times, we embark on a collaboration from an informed spot and yet, we realise no amount of past knowledge of their music, seems enough. I’ve always believed that if you internalise it, you don’t have to break it down — and all you do is just go with the flow.

AR: The first time I collaborated with Jayashri ji was for a Lalgudi G Jayaraman tribute concert. But that was a very different experience. It was a full-fledged Carnatic performance. Jayashri ji and I also share some connections aside from an admiration for each other’s music; her guru, Lalgudi G Jayaraman is my mother’s uncle. Working with her has been inspiring and I’m excited about the possibility to engage with her, yet again.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 1:11:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/november-fest/bombay-jayashri-and-abhishek-raghuram-on-a-musical-yatra/article25388972.ece

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