Meet the other Shankar

Sep 08, 2012, 03:57 IST | Ruchika Kher

Well-known American clarinetist Shankar Tucker, who has re-defined the term Internet sensation with his hugely popular YouTube channel, The Shruti Box, is set to enthrall the city's music aficionados with a gig soaked in fusion sounds

Binding two cultures with an amalgamation of Jazz and Carnatic music, it’s easy to figure why Shankar Tucker, an American (with an Indian first name) who has trained under Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia for a year, is more Indian at heart than American.

American clarinetist Shankar Tucker (second from left) during a performance

The musician, who hails the independent music brigade, will be performing in the city tomorrow as part of the sixth edition of The Park’s New Festival, organised by Prakriti Foundation.

Tucker, who often collaborates with independent musicians, will be associating with Maati Baani, a World Music band combining elements of Hindustani Classical with various styles of Folk music and new age sounds, for his Mumbai gig.

“For this performance, I will get together with Maati Baani, who are fellow Youtube musicians and friends. It will be a mix of some original compositions, some Classical and some other stuff from Youtube,” says Tucker.

The 25-year-old, who grew up in Massachusetts, was a Jazz enthusiast but a chance stumble upon John McLaughlin’s Remembering Shakti got him hooked on to Indian Classical music.

American clarinetist Shankar Tucker

“I was into Jazz from the beginning but one day, I found a few CDs that had music by a few great Indian classical musicians. I heard it and fell in love with the music. Thereon, I bought CDs of every other Classical musician and the most intriguing was Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia’s music. By then, I had decided that I want to learn Hindustani Classical music and trained under Panditji for a year,” reveals the clarinetist.

Tucker, whose troupe consists of classical vocalist Nirali Kartik, composer and producer Kartik Shah, and versatile tabla player Amit Mishra, has an online music channel, The Shruti Box, that has garnered over 8 million views worldwide till date. It is essentially a storehouse of his compositions, which are deeply rooted in Indian Classical music with a touch of popular Western sounds.

The musician, who is currently composing music for a Tamil film, feels that there are various things that intrigue people in Indian classical sounds. Explaining his stance, he said, “The manner in which Indian classical musicians take a raag and turn it into a full performance is amazing. It becomes a beautifully cracked composition for more than an hour usually, and it’s carefully done, which is remarkable.”

Tucker’s performance will be followed by a discussion on the opportunities for independent musicians in India and the US. “More can be done but it is a great time for independent musicians because of the Internet where social media has created a new platform for musicians to be heard. It has made the world a smaller place, culturally, where it’s easy for people to come together and collaborate,” he signs off, not before sharing that he would love to collaborate with Shanker Mahadevan in the future.

The festival will also see performances by stand-up comedian D’Lo on September 10 and dancer Akram Khan on September 11.

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