Drums homage to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Updated: Jun 14, 2018, 17:08 IST | Soumya Vajpayee Tiwari

Set to perform a tribute show for the late Sufi legend, percussionist Ranjit Barot on how the genre made its way from prayer halls to performing art venues

Drums homage to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Ranjit Barot

He cast a spotlight on an incredible music [genre] that may not have otherwise gained the momentum that it eventually did," says ace percussionist-composer Ranjit Barot of late Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Barot will pay tribute to the Sufi legend with a performance at The Quarter, Royal Opera House tomorrow. Titled Gurus of Peace, the gig will also feature musicians including Aditya Paudwal, Ashwin Shrinavasan, Gulraj Singh, Mohini Dey, Esani Dey, Vijay Prakash, Shabab Sabri, Shadab Faridi, Altamash Faridi and Digvijay Singh.

Though Barot is primarily associated with Western tunes, he harbours a special love for Sufi music. "This is devotional music that has transcended its environment of prayer halls and made itself available as a performance art, while still retaining its soul and essence." Barot will perform two sets of 80 minutes each for this event. "I'll be performing his classic hits, Dam Mast Qalandar and Kinna Sona Tenu, along with some songs from the album Night Song."

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

While it may be intriguing to see a drummer render Sufi tunes on an instrument that has a Western lineage, Barot says a musician's imagination transcends cultural bounds. "For me, the drums are as musical as a melodic instrument. [This understanding] governs my approach to the instrument. Music, regardless of genre and style, can be played well, or poorly.

Although the drum set has a Western lineage, my exposure to [various kinds of] music leads me to play it [differently], in a way that's ever-evolving. I don't have a static approach. I surrender myself to the music." Meanwhile, Barot, who worked as a drummer and arranger for veteran Bollywood composers like RD Burman, Laxmikant–Pyarelal and Kalyanji–Anandji, has kept an arm's length from Bollywood.

The last project he was associated with was Shaitan (2011). He attributes his absence to the opportunities coming his way outside the studio. "For the last eight years, I've been travelling extensively with John Mclaughlin and AR Rahman. With AR's shows, I'm also the on-stage music director, apart from being the arranger and sound engineer. I also hold other portfolios. So, it's a full-time occupation and one that I immensely enjoy."

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