‘Ordinary Music Vol. 19’ for tabla trio (2009)

Prior to my two moth stay in Calcutta, in winter 2008/9, I had contacted tabla player Tanmoy Bose, via internet, proposing a collaboration on an experimental music project for indian instruments. At the time I had no idea of indian music at all, except that I enjoyed listening to it. Mr Bose replied to my email very politely, showing interest in the project; and when I arrived in Calcutta, I gave him a call, and he invited me to his studio, giving me a basic introduction to tabla playing, and finally suggested I should work with some of his students on the project.

In the meantime I had found a schoolbook on tabla playing, in an antiquarian bookshop, from which I learned the basic terms of indian rhythms, along with the instrument’s technical vocabulary. My compositional approach was to deliver the instrument’s sound properties, regardless of musical context (in a similar way as eg. in ‘Ordinary Music Vol. 6’, where I had worked with electric guitars). In terms of source material, I simply applied the traditional techniques that were mentioned in the schoolbook; as sort of ‘ready made’ material. In order to communicate with the musicians, I developed a set of handsigns (similar to ‘sound-painting’), indicating different classes of talas (rhythmic cycles), different tempo relations, different modes of attac, or different zones of the drumskin. The only ‘extended’ technique I required, was brushing the drumskin with a handbrush, to create white noise. The procedure basically concluded in letting the musicians improvise in a traditional manner, while permanently altering the settings, via handsigns, with the intention to shift the focus, from musical context towards sound.