In a bid to allow learning from each other’s culture and musicaltraditions and foster collaborative working, The British Council had launched Folk Nations, a project, which is a three-year focus on Folk music in the UK and India. As part of it, the organisation is bringing together Scottish fiddle player, Patsy Reid and sarangi musician, Suhail Yusuf Khan for a performance in the city, today.
Earlier this year, in February, Reid and Khan had collaborated for the first time at a Folk Nations residency in Kolkata; this bond as a duo was strengthened further at the Alchemy Festival in London in April. This tour reunites the raw, emotional melodies of Reid’s fiddle with Khan’s evocative strains, with its Hindustani Classical roots. “I first met Suhail in Kolkata and was blown away by both the sarangi and his beautiful, technically outstanding but lyrical playing. Suhail is the perfect collaborator -- he is as keen to learn new styles as he is to share his own and I think, we are both keen to delve deeper into each other’s repertoire and see what happens. Our instruments gel very well together and it is really fun to experiment with harmony and texture,” says Reid. This tour will also see the inclusion of percussions by Ghatam Giridhar Udupa on the ghatam (claypot) and tabla artist Shariq Mustafa.
It takes two
Giving us a peek into the technicalities of such a performance, Reid explains that typically, it isn’t tough to collaborate with artistes from other cultures for a performance; however, a good understanding of each other’s style is paramount of a smooth amalgamation. “It is not so tough to collaborate, but the end result does not always equal the sum of the two. Often, the resulting sound doesn’t represent either culture at all but presents a watered down self-indulgent mish-mash of sounds,” explains Reid, who believes that despite their cultural differences, Khan and she are on the same wavelength, musically, and have equal respect and admiration for each other’s styles. Khan hails from a family of sarangi players -- he grew up listening to his grandfather, Sabri Khan, (a Padma Bhushan Award winner) and refrains from using the word ‘fusion’. He finds experimentation with artistes from diverse cultural backgrounds as exciting and enriching. “I don’t call it fusion, I call it experimenting and I love experimenting because I love pushing boundaries and pushing myself out of my comfort zone,” admits Khan, stressing that there will be a great exchange of ideas during the performance, since Reid will bring her own ideas to the table and he will bring his.