Modal Music – Indian Ragas & Medieval Song

The present recording offers a rare opportunity to experience two different musical worlds in dialogue: the reconstructed musical culture of the European Middle Ages, and the ancient but still continuous tradition of North Indian classical music, two worlds that are indeed separated with respect to time and geography, and yet still linked by common characteristic features. The classical tradition of North Indian music, whose origins can be traced back to antiquity, is marked both by a strong adherence to its own origins and an openness to influences from other cultures. The forms that are still practiced today emerged from a fusion of Hindu and Islamic traditions, which reached their greatest blossoming in the sixteenth century. North Indian music is based on the creative interplay of raga (melody) and tala (rhythm). The largely improvised performances are based on both complex melodic models and traditional compositions, which are passed down over generations from teacher to pupil. A delicate balance is always maintained between the proportion of improvised melodic and rhythmic expressions and the given modal structures and rhythmic cycles. This interplay between the traditional frameworks and the spontaneous expression also enables an active dialogue with the listener, who is subtly led through both the familiar and unexplored territory of the modal and rhythmic landscape. European art music of the Middle Ages, seemingly far removed and accessible only by means of written documents, has clearly recognizable roots in Eastern traditions. So it is not surprising that parallels can also be established with Indian musical culture. In the music of the Middle Ages, too, there are subtle nuances that can bring about highly differentiated effects, as Dominique Vellard demonstrates in the heartfelt songs of the 14th century Parisian musician Jehan de Lescurel. Even the so-called Gregorian chant knows emphatic moments, as the offertory Universi qui te expectant and an Alleluia demonstrate. And the intense relationship between music and text is highlighted in both the simple Sephardic song Ven querida and the expansive song of praise to Mary by Hildegard von Bingen. Ken Zuckerman embodies the connection between the two worlds in that he performs on both the Indian sarod as well as the medieval plectrum lute. Both the composition and improvisations in Dorian mode and the Istampitta, with their strong modal orientation and repetitive structures, offer ideal opportunities for improvisations that correspond to the Indian examples. In addition to the two great cultural worlds of the Western Middle Ages and classical Indian music, a meeting between the related traditions of the Persian and North Indian regions takes place. Here Swapan Chaudhuri and Keyvan Chemirani contribute significantly not only with their rhythmic accompaniments (tabla and zard), but also during inspiring solos and duets, as can be heard on Track 11. The object of the present recording is to give listeners an opportunity to hear the similarities and contrasts between these two rich musical worlds, as well as to initiate a dialogue between them.

Ensemble: Dominique Vellard, Ken Zuckerman, Swapan Chaudhuri, Keyvan Chemirani Album: Meeting – Two Worlds Of Modal Music – Indian Ragas & Medieval Song Video: Polo, Livre des merveilles (1410)

1 Regis Gloriae (Conductus)
2 Composition And Imprivisation In Dorian Mode
3 Universi Qui Te Expectant (Gradual)
4 Raga “Bhimpalashri” – Introduction
5 Raga “Bhimpalashri” – Continued With Tabla
6 Raga “Pahari”
7 Alleluia, Angelus Domini
8 Raga “Manj Khammaj” – Introduction
9 Bontés, Sen, Valours Et Pris – Jehan De Lescurel
10 Raga “Manj Khammaj” – Continued With Tabla And Zarb
11 Persian Tabla / Zarb Solo
12 Raga “Manj Khammaj” – Conclusion
13 Raga “Bihag” – Introduction
14 Raga “Bihag” – Continued With Tabla
15 Istampita: Principio Di Virtu
16 Virelais: Douce Dmour, Confortez Moi – Jehan De Lescurel
17 Ven Querida
18 Improvisation In Phrygian Mode
19 O Splendissima Gemma – Hildegard Von Bingen
20 Raga “Bhairavi” – Introduction
21 Raga “Bhairavi” – Continued With Tabla
22 Raga “Bhairavi” – Continued With Tabla And Zarb

Dominique Vellard (tenor), Ken Zuckerman (lute, sarod), Swapan Chaudhuri (tabla), Keyvan Chemirani (percussion)

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