‘The Resonance Between’: Finding Indian roots in a multicultural world


If you come this way, treading softly, guided by a child’s whisper, you will walk high above the trees in the woods, to the ocean and over the mountains and in the sky – to find E.M. Forster-like communion, floating on deep notes of Sarod and stream-like soundfall of the Sitar, to experience the whole of nature come together on harmonious sounds of the string quartet, lifting your soul in pure joy. If you come this way, you will find The Resonance Between.

The Album Cover of The Resonance Between. Photo: publicity material provided

The Resonance Between, (The Resonance hereafter. https://youtu.be/ozyevXQEKvc) is a new album just released by Sarod player Alam Khan, son of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan and Sitar player Arjun K. Verma, son of Maestro Roop Verma, teaming up with noted chamber music group Del Sol Quartet, and renowned musician Jack Perla. It is perhaps the first time that both the melody based Indian classical music and the harmony based European classical music have come together in an integrated whole.

But The Resonance is not just about finding the resonance between the elements of nature. It is also about finding one’s place, of resonance between the material and spiritual worlds of human beings.

In an exclusive interview with News India Times, both Alam Khan and Arjun Verma explained the title ‘The Resonance Between’ which signifies efforts to find a resonance between every day life and the tradition of Indian classical music.

“Our album, The Resonance, is trying to tell a modern-day story, expressing the journey of the human spirit,” said Alam Khan. “Both Arjun and I are mixed race, brought up in the U.S., and steeped in this tradition of classical music. We are trying to find a resonance between the East and the West. And we want people to experience this resonance,” Khan added.

“The Resonance reflects the exploration of search for identity,” said Arjun Verma. “The title refers to finding one’s identity as an American and as an Indian”, Verma said, adding both Khan and he are multi-cultural.

Verma explained The Resonance was conceptualized in 2017. It took both Khan and Verma time to bring it to a final after creating a local team from the Bay area group.

The artists of The Resonance Between performing. Sitting Left Alam Khan and Right Arjun Verma with artist from the Del Sol Quartet. Photo: Courtesy Mark Gorney.

Raga and Harmony are two distinct elements of classical music. Indian music is raga based, while European classical music is harmony based, according to Khan. “In The Resonance, we have tried to merge the architecture of the two where they both have a distinct existence, each playing its own piece,” Khan said.

Khan said he would not call their new album fusion music. Unlike current fusion music which is a jumble of many different elements thrown together, The Resonance creates a whole experience, telling a story through music. “Fusion requires a level of refinement where the integrity of styles should remain intact. It should be thoughtful,” Khan said.

“We have achieved a unique experience of tradition and modern elements in it,” Verma said. He said Indian classical music is minimalist, while European classical music has hundreds of instruments playing in harmony. And The Resonance has looked at both traditions giving each player their space, according to him.

“The piece Moon and the Mountain is created in Raga Chandranandan. At the same time, it sounds like Ali Akbar Khan and Beethoven combined,” Verma said. He said the piece ‘Rebirth’ is composed with only strings, no percussion and floating Sitar notes. “It is emotional and textured,” he said about the dynamic and exciting piece composed in Raga Maru Bihag.

Khan and Verma have teamed up with Jack Perla, a remarkable composer and musician. He and the chamber music group, Del Sol Quartet (DSQ), have added harmony to the melody based music of the album. The Resonance thus breaks new grounds in music in combining both melody and harmony in a unified music experience.

DSQ is a modern-day string quartet. Traditional Chamber music is a form of classical music composed for a small group of instruments, with each performer playing one part. “The DSQ are experienced with non-European traditions. They are a great choice to team up with,” Verma said.

Chamber music has affinity with classical Indian music in terms of aesthetics, according to Verma. “There is a classicism. “Both Indian and European classical music has elegance, and both are subtle and emotional,” he said. “The chamber music group was ready for our notes,” he said.

The Resonance team also includes remarkable tabla players Ojas Adhiya, Ishaan Ghosh and Nilan Chaudhari.

“With The Resonance, we are crossing over, bringing the elements of the other side in and creating one whole,” Verma said. He said Ali Akbar Khan touched people with his music, and people listen to him not to be impressed, but to be healed.

“We have tried to offer the same music. It is like offering a healing medicine with a spoon of sugar – sugar being the elements and interpretations we have introduced,” Verma said.



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