A concert at Royal Opera House to celebrate and blend music from different parts of the world
What came first, flamenco or Rajasthani folk music? This is a question that divides music historians because there is no solid basis to support either argument. But it is undeniable that both genres have similar aural sensibilities. That's because the people in the regions that these two styles originate from - western India and Andalusia in Spain - were nomadic in nature and their paths crossed hundreds of years ago, which resulted in an exchange of musical notes that persist to this day and age.
That's what percussionist Taufiq Qureshi tells us, before his concert later this week with flamenco guitarist José Manuel León. The gig will also feature Rajasthan-born sarangi player Sabir Khan and Abbos Kosimov from Uzbekistan, who is a percussionist as well. "What I feel is that Rajasthani music is older and somewhere down the line, it travelled across the world and influenced Spanish music. Of course, there's another theory that flamenco artistes came to Rajasthan, which is how the similarities came about. But there is no concrete evidence of either theory," Qureshi says.
"The point is, there is an element of commonality between José and Sabir because they both come from cultures that are similar to each other in terms of their music," he adds. Highlighting such points of conversion - as well as celebrating aspects of musical diversity - is the purpose behind this event. "Music has no borders. It is not difficult to see every day how different forms of music from across the world mix with each other," León says over email.
Qureshi seconds that. He has experimented with the djembe, a kind of African drum, to give it a desi twist. The fact that it has a primal sound helps, he says, adding, "Even today, the Masai tribe hunts lions using the djembe as an instrument to scare the animal and veer it to a particular spot. Of course, they use pots and pans as well to rattle it."
Jose Manuel Leon
Qureshi also says that world music is the genre on offer at the gig. But what does that term mean? He explains, "At one time, music used to be Indian, Cuban, Latin, African and so on. So, there were all these different umbrellas and each [musical] culture didn't really know much about the other. But due to the media and the Internet, people are more aware now. They know that the djembe is from Africa and the congo is from Latin America, for example. So, what has now happened is that all these genres of music have come under one umbrella, which is called world music."
On Friday, 8 pm
At Royal Opera House, Girgaon.
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entry Rs 749 to Rs 3,000