Sixth generation musicians experiment with a variety of world sounds in their new album, reports Utpal Borpujari
When dressed in similar clothing, no one can tell them apart, but give them a sitar and a sarangi, you immediately get to know who is who. Identical twins Murad and Fateh Ali, sixth generation musicians from the famed Moradabad gharana, have their own individual musical identities, the former continuing with the family tradition of playing the sarangi and the latter having chosen sitar to give expression of his creativity.
The two often jam together, with their easy camaraderie flowing over onto their music, but as is apparent from their website, it is a confluence of two distinct individuals who have carved their own niche in the world of music in quite a young age even while holding on their hereditary common identity.
Pure classical musicians otherwise, the two brothers, who learnt their music from their grandfather the late Ustad Siddique Ahmed Khan and father Ustad Ghulam Sabir Khan, have just come up with a highly-interesting album of world music called Convergence (Mystica Music), and the title of the effort signifies more than the coming together of their music. Here, they have experimented with bringing to the listener a variety of world sounds in one single album, ranging from Jazz, Latin, R&B and Hip Hop to Rock, Psychedelic, Lounge and Traditional.
And with international artistes like Tavlin Singh and Aneesh Pradhan playing the table, the album has more than one point of attraction, its eight tracks bringing to the listener a variety of moods to choose from. “It is all about melody, and balancing between the traditions of our gharana and experimenting with Western sounds,” says Murad, who with his brother carefully planned out each and every nuance of the pieces in the album to create a musical mood in progression as one listens to them.
“Creating a fusion album without any confusion was the sole aim of this album,” Fateh says. “It is all about creating an ambient ground where the sarangi and the sitar could meet, and each track we have created reflects a different style,” he says. For example, the opening track Infinity is all that is jazz, while Colour of Love, with lyrics by Hazrat Amir Khusrau, is a tribute to the great poet who is also credited with inventing the table and the sitar. Ode to Granada is a Latino rhythm tribute to the musical city of Spain, while Saturday Night in Delhi is a high-energy rock rendering created as a salute to India’s capital city.
“As classical musicians, we have worked with Western musicians within India and outside and thus understand the differences and similarities between the two genres. Here, we wanted to make music which makes people relaxed. Our effort has been to give some really good, soft music to people in this age of noisy music,” says Murad about the album that was conceptualised nearly two years ago.
Fund constraints prevented the duo from collaborating with big international musicians for the album even though they wanted to. “But we have Tavlin Singh playing in two pieces, which is a great thing to happen,” says Murad.
The album has brought to them the usual questions too, like “why a fusion album from classical musicians?”. But Murad, who has also played his instrument for Hindi films like Lage Raho Munnabhai, Laga Chunari Mein Daag and Khoya Khoya Chand as well as international productions like Dance of the Wind and Khamosh Pani, seeks to put a full stop to any such discussion. “We are from a family of classical musicians, and without doubt our main work is in the Indian classical domain, but we like Western classical music too. We love soft and sweet music, wherever they belong to,” he says.
The twins, who started off really young with vocal training before choosing their respective instruments, would, in fact, like to see music lovers just enjoy their music without going into its provenance. “Good music is good music. Period,” says Murad. And those who have listened to their live performance all over India and many other countries, would surely say encore to that.
(An abridged version of this was published in Sakaal Times, www.sakaaltimes.com, 27-09-2008)