I’m finding this a really fascinating project. Together with six other composers I’ve been given the chance to write some music for a mixed ensemble which includes Indian instruments sarangi and tabla, played by renowned performers in the Indian Classical tradition, Aruna Narayan and Sanju Sakai, together with cello, piano, harp and (Western) percussion, played by members of the Endymion Ensemble. It’s a project organised by the spnm in collaboration with the Asian Music Network and led by Rolf Hind.
Yesterday we attended a workshop to hear the two string instruments played side by side. Aruna introduced us to the sarangi, and was joined by Orlando Jopling on cello. The sarangi has three main strings, which are bowed, and nearly forty others which are not bowed but resonate in sympathy with the melody, lending a distinctive aura to the sound. Some are tuned to the chromatic scale and some to microtones appropriate to the particular Rag being played. Getting to know the instrument itself was only the beginning, however, because, as we began to discover, a classically trained player brings to their music a very different conception of their role and their relation to other players, and to the idea of a ‘composed piece’. Writing music which allows space for this wonderful instrument to flourish will be a very interesting challenge.
Music by Jeremy Thurlow.