A Manchurian you can listen to...

A Manchurian you can listen to...

A virtuoso who has collaborated with musicians across the globe, Kala Ramnath's fusion compositions have won her both praise and accolades

Kala Ramnath

There are too many wan jokes about ‘death from China’ out there. This weekend, let’s just ignore them and concentrate instead on a snatch of Chinese music expertly blended with some of the coolest violin interludes you will have ever heard, shall we? 

The piece we are referring to is helpfully titled ‘Manchurian Movement’, a six-odd minute wonder from Kala Ramnath’s album ‘Raga n Rhythm’ and a fine example of ‘real’ fusion. In an interview a while ago, Kala Ramnath, one of the country’s foremost violinists, said she hesitates to do fusion experiments in India because merely adding a few drum sounds and a bass or two is not it. She describes fusion as something she creates with another musician coming from a different music tradition — fusion, in essence, ought to necessarily be a harmonious blend of genres.

She should know. A virtuoso who has collaborated with musicians across the globe, Kala’s fusion compositions have won her both praise and accolades. Born into a family of violinists as it were (her paternal uncle is the violin legend T N Krishnan), curiously enough, Kala shifted to the Hindustani idiom and trained under Pandit Jasraj for years. It is perhaps this early influence of both Carnatic and Hindustani traditions that make her compositions soar so effortlessly.

This is also why ‘Manchurian Movement’ does not let you stay stagnant; it gives you a peek into the kind of musical treasures that China holds, and just when you begin to lose yourself, the violin riffs, gentle yet firm, pull you back to your (and my) roots. Isn’t that what fusion is supposed to do? Not let you linger? 

Play By Ear showcases a potential earworm every week for you, the discerning listener, who is on the hunt for some musical serendipity.

 

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