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Irish reels meet Indian ragas

Soak in a unique fusion of Irish reels and Indian ragas as two young musicians set to redefine music boundaries

This might rank as a strange Fusion ensemble that one would have heard of; two young musicians are all set to bring Indian ragas and Irish reels, together, and on the same stage. Sam Comerford, a young saxophone and flute player from Ireland, and Utsav Lal, of Indian origin, known for his expertise on the piano, will perform together in the show aptly titled, Ragas to Reels, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Embassy of Ireland in New Delhi.


Utsav Lal and Sam Comerford

Lal says that the act hopes to explore the many sides of traditional Irish music, and find common ground, helped with a mix of instruments including saxophone, tin whistle, wooden flute, piano and tabla. “Irish traditional music and Indian Classical music may seem like they’re worlds apart, but actually, they share a lot in common. Both are modal (music that uses melodies or harmonies based on modes apart from major and minor scales), oral traditions and feature slow emotion-drenched melodies and fast exciting climaxes. We’re going to play arrangements blending these two,” he adds.

Comerford says that music is a big part of life of Ireland, and visitors are always surprised at how much live music takes place. “It’s integral to the culture such that at most social gatherings people will be singing together at some point,” says the artiste, who began taking music lessons when he was nine. He mastered the Irish flute, tin whistle and the saxophone — some of the instruments he will be playing at the show. Elaborating about Irish music, Comerford says that the Irish flute is a vital part of the traditional music, and it wouldn’t be the same without it.

The artiste will also explore his love for Jazz music with the saxophone with open improvisations, to not only blend the two music styles but to also stretch the parameters of these styles. “I’ll be playing one slow vocal piece on it, as it’s between the reedy tone of uilleann pipes (national bagpipe of Ireland) and the sound of the human voice,” he adds.

On: Today, 10 pm to 11.30 pm
At: The BlueFrog, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Lower Parel.
Call: 61586158
Entry: Rs 350 (9 pm onwards)

What are Irish reels?
The reel is one of the four traditional Irish dances, and also a music type accompanying it. The reel is danced in soft shoes, and reel music is notated in a simple meter of 2/2 or 4/4. Interestingly, there’s also a music album titled, Reel Music, featuring a selection of Beatles songs that have appeared in movies.

Comerford on the bansuri
I have been learning it (bansuri/ Indian flute) for a while. Flute music is prevalent in most cultures; it’s one of the most ancient instruments in the world!

I have huge respect for the tradition of bansuri playing in north India; it’s incredibly beautiful.

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