The world is his home

Travelling artiste
Last Updated 29 February 2016, 18:28 IST

Travelling musician Maneli Jamal is in his late 20s and has a voice that sparkles with maturity. His music comes across as a bolt of lightening, capable only of an experienced artiste.

Well, how can it not seem like that? The acoustic guitarist has lived in five countries and had moved around the world at least 20 times by the time he was 18. A harmonica full of songs and stories, he translates personal narratives into powerful lyrics using varied guitar techniques.

His rhythms are short yet rich. While he has a technical mastery over fast rhythms, that doesn’t overshadow his lower octaves.

Armed with just a guitar, the singer/songwriter is always jet lagged which is a huge challenge.

He says, “Having the right nutrients and staying fit is a big challenge when I travel. I always have to eat healthy and exercise so that I can look my best. I feel I have a great tool for expression and if I don’t feel fit and healthy, I can’t play anything.”

His style is one that falls into the progressive English genre. He explains this by drawing a parallel to films.

“Filmmakers have a story initially, they then build on the concept through effects, actors’ contributions and costumes. Similarly, I play a note and build on it to weave a melody. It encompasses complex rhythms and harmonies and the lyrics stem from my personal experiences.”

When pointed out that his style is similar to ‘Dhrupad’, an Indian classical music style, Maneli shakes his head and says that he wishes to spend more time in India so that he can understand the depth of Indian classical music. So far, he has only had a nodding acquaintance with it.

He adds, “Though it’s my first time here, it’s a complete eye-opening experience. I have heard a lot about India, its diverse cultures and the country’s ability to assimilate various traditions so I am really fascinated. Bengaluru has been fantastic. It seems like it’s a young, new city where people from different backgrounds are together. I’d like to stay here longer as I can derive a lot of inspiration for my music.”

With a huge list of original compositions to his credit, Maneli weaves melodies that capitalise on emotions, be it sorrow or joy, angst or anguish and tells his story through his guitar.

He considers songwriting as an organic form of growth. Influenced by innate, traditional music rather than improvised, modern tunes, he says, “I don’t travel for six months but when I do, my head feels like a bucket. I gather inspiring ideas from wherever I am, think of the music and pour them out at home, which is my creative space. It’s a joy to work like this as it helps me stay focussed, see the world, play at shows and meet people from different musical backgrounds.”

Having crossed borders — from Iran to Russia —  no doubt Maneli finds the music across the world essentially the same.

He says that they are built with similar building blocks.  For him, the world is his home and the guitar, his universe.

(Published 29 February 2016, 13:49 IST)

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