Chords in sync- a musical
December 2, 2004
season of The Park’s The Other Festival began with aplomb. Finnish composer
Eero Hameenniemi and his group collaborated with two Indian musicians to
mark a musical beginning for the festival. His interesting ensemble, consisting
of harmonium, cello, violin, gottuvadhyam and mridangam, played a basic
theme and five variations upon it.
This reviewer had to depend almost entirely on his eyes and ears as he has little or no knowledge of western classical music and a nodding acquaintance with Carnatic music.
As Eero mentioned later during the interaction with the audience, the gottuvadhyam is very different from the western string instruments and with the visible gliding over from note to note creates a special tonal ambience. Allam Sri Durga Prasad wielded the instrument with absolute grace and poise, and at times underplayed when Roi Ruottinen (cello) and Minna Pensola (violin) painted variational contra patterns. The rhythm to hang on to was provided by R Ramesh on the mridangam. It was interesting to see the western musicians count Misrachapu with their hands as Ramesh played a few avartanams solo.
The second variation was particularly interesting as all the other instruments intercepted and punctuated the main playing by Eero on the harmonium. The gottu vadhyam took over the rhythmic role in the fourth variation and maintained a linear rhythm as Roi and Minna played on. The fifth one had them playing variations that closely resembled the technique of sangati singing in Carnatic music.
One could see
that the composition was a natural blend of western and Carnatic styles
of music and yet none of the melodies was based on any particular raga.
Aniruddh Vasudevan is a Bharatanatyam
dancer based in Chennai.