Experimenting with music

ARYA, THE Bangalore band making an entirely new kind of music, has everything going for it — talented musicians, creative energy, and the vision to look beyond narrow boundaries. With Vasundhra Dass, actor-singer, lending vocal support, Roberto Narayan on drums, and others accompanying them on assorted musical instruments, there is no dearth of innovative harmony. Prakash, who looks every inch the classical musician, which he is by training, chooses to play Hindustani raagas on a Hawaiian guitar. Did we say assorted instruments? Karthik, with a Carnatic classical background, has discovered an instrument, different from the ghata he often plays. This looks like a box with a circular opening on one side, and is called cahon. The band found it in Spain.

Arya steers clear of typecast music and attempts to harmonise and improvise upon different sounds. Some of them are from Hindustani and Carnatic classical raagas and taalas. The rest is good jazz and some contemporary music. Roberto does not try to mystify its brand of music. A recent visit to a major music festival in Spain was an example. "Many other contemporary Indian musicians who came there were actually from the U.K. Since we were straight from India, they expected purely classical music and were pleasantly surprised to hear something very different and original,'' Roberto says.

There were memorable events during the Europe visit. There was the jazz concert at an opera house, the first ever to be held there. "It must have been different from what the audience usually get in an opera house, but they were receptive enough and gave a standing ovation. The way they spontaneously responded to the music was a rare sight,'' Vasundhara says. About their relationship, both Vasundhara and Roberto say it is more of a musical partnership than anything else. They are working together to create a recording studio. They are also working together to make Arya appear more on concert stages. Meanwhile, their common bond of music will keep their friendship intact.

By Satyamurty K.