Sounds from the Sidis
JAZZ COMPOSER, PERCUSSIONIST AND PRODUCER SARATHY KORWAR TALKS ABOUT HIS MUSIC
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 sarathykorwar.com/music
Sarathy Korwar during a performance