Sounds from the Sidis



Born in the USA, ed­u­cated in Pune and now based in Lon­don, jazz com­poser, percussionist and pro­ducer Sarathy Korwar has been vis­it­ing the coun­try to in­tro­duce his de­but al­bum Day to Day. The jazz al­bum has the un­mis­tak­able el­e­ments of folk and sufi as well as the mys­tic sounds from the Sidi com­mu­nity in Gu­jarat. Re­turn­ing to the coun­try to play at the GOAT Fes­ti­val in Goa (Jan­uary 27-29), Korwar speaks to Sim­ply Mumbai about his mu­sic and the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind it.

Q. What was the kind of mu­sic you grew up lis­ten­ing to?

A. I grew up lis­ten­ing to Hin­dus­tani mu­sic at home be­cause of my par­ents, who are both pas­sion­ate about it. I also lis­tened to a lot of rock n roll and jazz, which is what I loved the most, and my sound has been shaped by all three mu­sics (and more!).

Q. Much of your mu­sic is in­spired by Sidi mu­sic. How did your in­ter­est in the sect be­gin?

A. I came across the Sidis when I met an eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gist called Amy Catlin-Jairazb­hoy who told me about the com­mu­nity. I got fas­ci­nated by their his­tory and mu­sic as soon as I dug deeper and got in touch with one par­tic­u­lar per­form­ing troupe of Sidi mu­si­cians in Ratan­pur and Bharuch (Gu­jarat) and spent some time record­ing them in their homes and out­doors. It was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.

Q. What spe­cific as­pects of their cul­ture and mu­sic have made it to your mu­sic?

A. I was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the Sidi in­stru­ment the malunga (which is a sin­gle stringed gourd res­onated bow) and their drum/ vo­cal en­sem­bles. Both these mu­si­cal el­e­ments dis­play the con­nec­tion they have to Africa along­side their sufi and In­dian her­itage. I recorded the Sidi mu­si­cians play­ing their songs on the malunga and drums/voice, with plenty of these field record­ings making it on to the al­bum.

Q. Is it chal­leng­ing to recre­ate your sound live on stage?

A. I love per­form­ing live. Recre­at­ing the songs live was a chal­lenge ini­tially, es­pe­cially try­ing to in­cor­po­rate the Sidi mu­sic sam­ples but I think I have found a good bal­ance be­tween pre-recorded and live sounds while per­form­ing. I also work with some amaz­ing mu­si­cians who make the en­tire process very en­joy­able, in­spir­ing and stress free.

Q. Do you think your sound de­fines the fu­ture of mu­sic?

A. I hope it helps de­fine the con­tem­po­rary be­cause that’s what it is. Lis­ten to Sarathy Korwar’s mu­sic on sarathyko­r­­sic

Pho­to­graph by RE­BECCA CON­WAY

Sarathy Korwar dur­ing a per­for­mance

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