Author Archives: britishcouncilindia

World Voice Project: Workshop and Showcase

With a frosty breeze & a brilliant sun peeking out, at the same time, Kullu is the quintessential hill station; a small town set in the heart of Himachal Pradesh. Kullu provided great promise as the venue for a World Voice Project (WVP) Workshop and Showcase with the WVP India Champion, Mohit Chauhan! Complementing the WVP Workshop was an introduction to the Drama in Classroom Project (DCP).

The workshop saw 120 teachers attend sessions conducted by British Council trainers and the state-level-master trainers. The teachers were introduced to an arts-integrated learning approach through music & drama and took to the program quite enthusiastically. The trainers also had the opportunity to train a large group of children and give the teachers insight and a hands-on approach on using music & drama as additional pedagogical tools in their resource kit. The beauty of the concept was that Indian students were learning traditional folk songs from Senegal & England, giving them a brilliant taste of different cultures.

The icing on the cake was the WVP showcase on the final day with the WVP India Champion, Mohit Chauhan, held at the historic Kala Kendra. Mr. Chauhan, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, walked out to an explosive round of applause by a whopping 1,400 strong audience and the local band playing his best numbers. The showcase included him singing along with the trained children, exhibiting WVP in the truest form possible. It also saw Ms. Shaguna Gahilote, the State Project Director for SSA, Mr Ghanshyam Chand & the Himachal Pradesh State Pedagogy Coordinator, Ms Manjula Sharma, deliver talks on Arts Education. The showcase ended with a press conference where Mr Chauhan was happy to share his views, candid and in-the-flesh.

The Kullu locals, teachers & students alike were fascinated and intrigued with the education-through-arts approach and showed promise for inculcating this approach into their curriculum and teaching methods. With a fruitful tour in Kullu, ending with a cracker of a showcase, WVP & DCP left Kullu yearning for more.

Until next time!

Post by: Kshitij Swahney

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John Newbigin: Discussing The Creative Industries at The UK India Business Council

Earlier in October, Creative England chairman John Newbigin and board member Ian Livingstone joined Business Secretary Vince Cable and a host of UK business delegates in India for this year’s UK India Business Council.

These conferences are a great opportunity to beat the drum for UK Industry, attract inward investment and foster closer cultural and business ties between the UK and India.This particular Council conference was unique in that it was the first of its kind to feature a session dedicated to the creative industries which John planned and chaired. We asked him to report back on his trip and share his thoughts on the event. 

Trade between the UK and India was worth £11bn in 2009, £16.4bn last year and the government believes it’s on track to exceed £20bn by 2015, so doubling in value in just 6 years and making the UK one of India’s top three trading partners. And it’s a two-way business – the biggest single private investor in UK industry is the Indian Tata group, whose highest profile company is Jaguar Land Rover.

To help keep this amazing growth trend going, there’s an annual business conference in Delhi that attracts around a hundred British companies who want to get a better understanding of how Indian markets work and where opportunities lie by meeting Indian entrepreneurs, business executives and policy wonks.

In the past, the conference-goers have been what you might call the usual suspects – they’ve come from the automotive industries, aerospace, defence, financial services, education, pharmaceuticals. But this year, creative industries were added to the list and I was asked to plan and chair the inaugural session.

Despite its unique heritage of creative craft skills and the mind-boggling ingenuity of the country’s creative entrepreneurs (it’s a long-standing joke that there is no word in the Hindi language for ‘obsolete’ because nothing is ever obsolete in India – there’s always someone smart enough, or desperate enough, to re-cycle or re-purpose anything that’s been thrown away) the concept of the creative industries as a distinct sector is still relatively new in India.

Read the rest of the blog here

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Towards a multilingual education research partnership for India

mle eventEnglish Partnerships team of the British Council India convened a research round-table on multilingual education in Delhi on 18 and 19 September 2014. The Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading had proposed a collaborative research partnership with Indian universities and institutions to investigate the issues around multilingual literacy and education at the primary level in India.

India is a country with linguistic diversity that befits a continent. There is in place a three language formula for school education. However, in practice teachers are often faced with immense difficulty dealing with the challenges this diversity poses in everyday classroom situations. How do teachers deal with a multilingual class that does not match with his or her own language(s)? How does one transition students who speak a tribal or a highly localised language to the provincial language and then on to Hindi, the national language? And where does English sit within all of this, when is it right to introduce this and how?

Before the roundtable, Prof Ianthi Maria Tsimpli and Prof Jeanine Treffers-Daller, both from the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading and I spent some time looking at classroom practices at  a few schools in North India.

At a rural primary school run by the NGO Digantar well outside Jaipur, the last few miles of the access road to which was no more than a ribbon of dirt track, we witnessed outstanding practice of how Dhundari, the home language of the pupils, was being innovatively used by the teachers to teach them the basics, introducing them gradually to Hindi and all along using a number of creative tactile experiments to introduce complex concepts such as “place value” in mathematics or “condensation” in environment science. Colleagues from an education NGO, Sandhan, led by the inspirational Dr Sharda Jain, met us and discussed how they dealt with cultural issues around language teaching in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalay, a girls’ school in Udaipur (Rajasthan). “While introducing English, which is perceived to be important for the world of work, we have to be really careful not to devalue the home language,” Dr Jain observed.

Reflecting on their visit, Jeanine and Ianthi wrote back to say:

The visit to Digantar school in Jaipur was an unprecedented experience for us. The commitment of the teachers, the collegiality, the joyful atmosphere between them and the pupils and the hard work that both sides are putting into this is exemplary. Re. resources: we were impressed by the computer room where pupils could engage in developing computer skills and used both Hindi and English for word processing. Needless to say, the human resources in the Digantar school outweigh all other challenges.

We also visited a Central School (Kendriya Vidyalay) and a state-government school, both in Delhi, observing the care, concern and enthusiasm of the teachers in adopting innovative methodologies in dealing with the linguistic, cultural and socio-economic diversity in India’s capital and largest city.

The research round-table was the first step towards an open discussion, charting out the key questions and the hypothesis for the research, identifying possible approaches, inviting contributors to join advisory and programme boards and charting out a roadmap and a provisional timetable.

At the meeting in Delhi, Ianthi and Jeanine met with representatives of the British Council India, Unicef India, academics from Universities in India and representatives from NGOs and CSROs to discuss the framework for setting up a longitudinal project into the role of mothertongues and regional languages in learning and teaching in India.

On the evening of 18 September, there was a panel discussion on the “Benefits and challenges of multilingual education in India” where Dr Dhir Jhingran (Unicef India), Prof Ianthi Tsimpli, Dr Rukmini Banerji (Pratham – ASER Centre), Prof Paul Gunashekar (EFL University, Hyderabad) spoke on the various aspects of multilingual education in India, with critical contributions from Prof Ajit Mohanty and Dr Mahendra Mishra (ICICI Foundation).

We are now putting together a research consortium of interested parties who would like to be involved in the development of this project, with a view to submit a joint application for funding.

The following individuals and organisations took part in the round-table discussions:

Name Designation Institution
Ajit Mohanty ICSSR National Fellow Jawaharlal Nehru University
Padmini Boruah Associate Professor, Department of English Language Teaching Gauhati University
Paul Gunashekar Dean, School of English Language Education The English and Foreign Languages University
Dr. Mahendra K Mishra State Head Education – Chhatishgarh ICICIF ICICI Foundation-Chhattisgarh
Meenal Sarda Education Specialist UNICEF India
Dr. Dhir Jhingran Senior Advisor, Education UNICEF
Natalia Mufel Education Specialist UNICEF India
Shubhra Chatterjee Director Vikramshila
Rukmini Banerji Director Pratham – ASER Centre
Renu Sharma  Associate Pratham
Parismita Singh Associate Pratham
Ranajit Bhattacharya General Manager Pratham ASER Centre

By Dr Debanjan Chakrabarti

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More language, more person

The taxi-less roads did not deter ELT whizzes and exponents in Kolkata, who went on a linguistic, educational and cultural overdrive with a lively debate on ‘English Medium Instruction: Boon or curse? that followed an engaging talk by Prof. Andy Curtis on the subject.

Andy Curtis is Professor in the School of Graduate Education at Anaheim University, California and the president of TESOL International. His talk, on 11 August in Kolkata and 13 August in Patna, took great care to present research related to the two opposing schools of thought, viz. the perceived position of English as the ‘language of inclusion’ vs. the possibility of it being the ‘language of intrusion’.

He elaborated on the historical and political significance of the EMI debate in India, with particular reference to India’s colonial past, while also highlighting how the various Indian Englishes have contributed to keeping the language a ‘living, breathing organism’. Prof. Curtis stressed on the need for a strong debate on EMI in India.

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The panel discussion and the audience response turned out to be a thought-provoking session, with a combination of long-standing views of the Indian education system and progressive comments on the pertinent impact of technology, globalisation and India’s presence as a multi-lingual and multi-cultural expanse with an internationally competitive edge.

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Prof. Anuradha Lohia, Vice-Chancellor, Presidency University, pointed out how several generations of Indian school-going children learnt English ‘by default’ without there being any choice in the matter. She acknowledged that more and more learners of this generation had the option of continuing education in their chosen language, but higher education demands a knowledge of English. She attributed this scenario to the fact that English is the language of research and development, therefore a ‘language of necessity’ for young people who will soon become global citizens. She also put forth an interesting question of whether lack of English could become an impediment for those aspiring for a career in technical fields, or if they could still make it big in the international arena.

The Director of Modern High School for Girls in Kolkata, Ms. Devi Kar, responded to Prof. Curtis and Ms Lohia by raising the question of whether English might also be seen as the ‘language of exclusion’, especially in higher education. From her own experience of teaching and learning, Ms Kar pointed out how pronunciation and accent formed the ‘great divide’ for Indian English speakers, by bringing up the long-ensuing war between substance and language style. The crux of Ms Kar’s response was based on bilingual language teaching and how it was a more organic way of teaching languages in India, especially due to the need for constant code-switching and code-mixing in the diverse linguistic panorama.

Academic Manager of British Council Teaching Centre in Kolkata, Mr Rajeev Bakhshi, took on the debate of the purpose and need for English learning in India, by emphasising that students in the English classroom looked upon English as a means of seeking better jobs or securing a better future for themselves, not only in terms of monetary benefit, but also for more promising careers and a global identity.

The audience posed questions on a number of issues ranging from how English is taught in schools, to which Prof Curtis responded by saying that the current style of grammar-focussed teaching can limit linguistic creativity to a great extent. To another question on how English language is linked to ‘who we are’, Prof Curtis advocated the ideology of plurality while pointing out the fossilisation of language and clear markers of an individual’s identity, influence how we speak.

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The stimulating discussion ended with a consensus that despite the ambivalence towards EMI globally, multilingualism is the way forward. Prof Curtis encapsulated this belief with the comment ‘diversity is strength’ and Sujata Sen rounded off session by saying English language learning is indeed a boon in India and the debate on EMI should continue, in interest of betterment of education in India.

The debate continued in Patna  where a turnout of 86 people on a day it rained very heavily included a mix of senior education policy makers from SCERT (director and his deputy, VC of Patna University), teacher educators from our own BLISS project, Pratham Bihar unit (including their state head), several school principals from our schools network.

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A lively interaction followed the lecture, with questions of linguistic imperialism and dangers of English cropping up (and tackled very well by Andy). The discussion was moderated by Debanjan Chakrabarti.

Both events were covered very well in the mainstream media (the Telegraph, Hindu, Hindustan Times, several agencies).

This was the first in a series of programmes that strategically brings together our work in research and publications, particularly on the (tricky) issue of EMI and related pedagogic approaches, aligned to our state partnership programmes and looking at the medium term milestone of the Language and Development Conference late in 2015.

Post by: Samathmika Balaji

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World Voice Project Workshop for State-level Master Trainers

World Voice

The World Voice Project 2014 kicked off in Delhi with training for state level trainers from five states of India. The workshop was hosted with our partners at the NCERT and was attended by Gill Caldicott (acting Director), Sujata Sen (Director, East India), Vivek Mansukhani (Director Arts) from the British Council, Prof Parvin Sinclair (Director), and Dr Pawan Sudhir (Professor and Head, Department of Education in Arts and Aesthetics (DEAA) and Dr Sharbari Banerjee (Assistant Professor, Musicologist) from the NCERT.

The three-day World Voice Project workshop  (25 – 27 August 2014, DEAA Conference hall, NCERT New Delhi) for Master Trainers brought together 16 participants from each of the WVP partner states: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Sikkim and New Delhi. Aiming at capacity building, training and skills advancement on Art Integrated Learning (AIL) with music and singing through British Council India’s World Voice Project (WVP), it offered an ideal platform for interaction, an exchange of best-practices, experiences, song repertoires, opportunities and challenges involved in AIL through music.

The interactive training was conducted by the resource person and trainer from United Kingdom, Dr Thomas Ian Young. He shared a range of new warm ups, singing games, use of puppets and actions with songs and encouraged sharing of personal song repertoires from the participants. The participants learnt 12 new songs during the workshop, including songs from the WVP songbooks alongside others from across the world such as, Canoe song (North America), Si-Si (Congo), Scotland and so on. They enjoyed singing and learning the songs, while they also shared their WVP experiences in their respective states through presentations, video and audio clips, as well as, photographs documenting their work. They highlighted how teaching through WVP songs had made classroom learning more enjoyable and interesting!

The participants attending the current workshop had been trained earlier by Master Trainers from New Delhi/ India over the past one year (October 2013 – March 2014) in their respective states. The current training was envisaged to help participants enhance their skills to be able to conduct similar trainings in their educational institutions and states; thus, taking on the role of master trainers in their respective regions.

Further, in an effort to promote AIL through theatre, the British Council India organised short sessions on ‘Theatre in Education’ with the support of 4 short listed participants trained previously during the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) workshop (held in January 2014) alongside this workshop. The hour-long theatre presentations with a focus on Shakespearean texts were scheduled before and after completion of Dr Young’s sessions during the ongoing workshop. The participants enjoyed the fusion of music and theatre sessions for classroom learning. The theatre component will be included in the next phase of the AIL activities in the various WVP partner states.

Participant’s responses

“ I have learnt four WVP songs and WVP introduced me to a new teaching pedagogy. It has helped me establish a good rapport with my students and made learning very enjoyable for everyone! ” – Mr Dary Marbaniang, Meghalaya

“ I have been using the WVP songs and warm ups.. I would like to share that Bebe-Yo is very popular with all the students! “ – Mr Subhash Shanker Suna, Sikkim

“ There are less teachers and massive pressure to ensure the syllabus and curriculum is covered. In the process, we tend to forget that learning must be joyful! After the WVP workshop, I am singing with a better purpose and am able to establish better links with the curriculum. The students in my state find English very difficult. However, I was delighted when they managed to learn and sing an English song, ‘ScarbouroughFair’ ” – Ms Geeta Bhatt, Himachal Pradesh

“I head a pre-school and teach students from the age group 1.5 to 5.5 years. After one week of teaching through WVP pedagogy, they were happier and learnt far better. Although, I was faced with initial resistance from the parents but once they observed the changes that music had brought about, they became more open and encouraging!.- Ms Zainab Ashraf, Jammu and Kashmir

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Swapnokalpa Dasgupta: Dance and Disability

Artists before the show Miracle On Wheels dance performance on Wheel chairs by Ability Unlimited at Tata Theatre,NCPA on 07/06/2013. Photo by : NARENDRA DANGIYASwapnokalpa Dasgupta: ‘My experiences with disabled children completely changed the way I looked at dance.’

As Swapnokalpa Dasgupta, Head of Dance Programming, at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai, prepares to participate in the Unlimited festival at the Southbank Centre (2nd – 7th September), she shares her experience of working with disabled dancers and how perceptions towards disability in India is changing.

Disability and dance: a different mode of expression and appreciation of physicality

My background is in Science and Education and I am also an Indian classical dancer. I did my teaching qualification in India and worked in the UK as a teaching assistant in various schools and Special Education units around London I began to see how I could use dance in an educational setting and the particular impact it had on the disabled children. Dance allowed them a different mode of expression and appreciation of their physicality.

These experiences have stayed with me and I am really excited about the potential of disability arts programmes in India. The dance department at the NCPA started to work with disabled performers last year. The response from the audiences was incredible; we have realised that there really is an appetite for disability arts. We are now aiming to curate a festival for disabled dancers in the near future as we think this would be a great way to showcase their talent and share their experiences with more people.

Changing perceptions

Traditionally, it has been taught that Indian classical dance is the reserve of the able bodied and this was how I was conditioned to think from my classical training. However, my experiences with disabled children completely changed the way I looked at dance. I began to see that dance was not a competitive sport where one should strive for perfection. Nor is dance an end-result; it is the process that is important. I realised how powerful dance was as a medium of expression and thus is a birth right of every individual.

More investment needed

People’s perceptions of disabled dancers are slowly changing in India, as we have seen more disabled performers on our TV screens and in our theatres. However, disabled performers are still held back from achieving their full potential as there is not enough investment or support for their training. Generally in India, when disabled people tend to come from lower socio-economic backgrounds and attain lower educational standards, it is even more important that there is investment in scholarship schemes, for example, in order to address this imbalance.

Read more about disability arts

Find out more about Unlimited

Read an interview with Ruth Gould, artistic director of DaDaFestand chair of the commission panel for the Unlimited festival. She talks about how arts can change perceptions of what D/deaf and disabled people can do.

Post by: Emer Coyle

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Music can make the world go round!

What do you think an annual arts festival in London, and a mythical tradition that amidst other goals focussed on developing an elixir of life to confer youth and longevity, have in common?

Alchemy is London’s Southbank Centre’s annual festival showcasing the best of music, dance, literature, comedy, fashion, art and design from the UK and South Asia. Alchemy is also an influential philosophical tradition whose practitioners have, from antiquity, claimed it to be the precursor to profound powers. We’d like to believe that cultural relations has some of this profound power, with music as a kind of magic that activates it.

On Monday, 19 May 2014, some of this magic was experienced by around 250 festival goers in London at the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre. In a medley of percussion, singing, wind and string instruments and some clog dancing thrown in for good measure, the audiences listened as six musicians from different traditions, styles, and countries strung notes of gold.

The energetic Suhail Yusuf Khan brought his skill with the sarangi, and honeydew voice that perfectly complemented Saurav Moni’s soulful Baul singing, quintessentially accompanied by the ektara. On the melancholic harp was Georgia Ruth Williams from Wales, with Patsy Reid from Scotland on the up-beat fiddle. Also from Scotland was James Mackintosh, a veteran percussionist. Hannah James from England brought sounds of the accordion and that of happy clog dancing to this mix.

While the highlight of the evening was the music, it was peppered with stories and narratives from each one’s country, and tradition. What better way to experience the grace of difference than through folk music and stories.

But what brought this eclectic mix of musicians together to weave with their strands of music, a breath-taking performance?

Over the last two years, our Folk Nations project has brought together artists from across the UK and South Asia to create and exchange contemporary folk music. One such project was a residency in Kolkata in 2013, co-commissioned by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, where these musicians met for the very first time. The music performed at Alchemy was conceived here.

Have a look at images from the performance here.

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Keeping India’s street art alive

Designer and artist Hanif Kureshi, who is preparing to exhibit his work at Alchemy 2014 in London’s Southbank Centre from the 15 to 26 May explains his current project and shares a few insights into his work, which aims to preserve the practice of hand-painted street signs in India and promote the importance of letters.

Why preserve hand-painted type?

India has a long tradition of hand painted type. Hand-painted signs used to be part of the landscape, but with digital printing street signs now all seem to look the same. I don’t think we should lose the unique character of our streets and why I am working to find ways of preserving our street painting tradition. Most of the painters across India have their own unique style and I think it would be such a shame if this wasn’t passed onto the next generation of designers.

Signboard from BikanerDigital printing and contemporary Indian culture

As our world becomes more and more globalised, I am concerned about how this affects our cultural identity. I would argue that our urban landscape plays quite a big part in our cultural identity. There is little point in fighting technological advances, so for me it makes sense to explore how to combine India’s unique cultural identity along with the technology that is contributing to making our world increasingly connected and homogeneous.

AAAAAATypeface in a global context 

Most of the typefaces and fonts that we use have been designed by either professional American British or European type designers; they aim for simplicity and homogeneity. The typefaces you see in my project reflect a very unique Indian aesthetic and the reactions I have received from outside India have been really interesting. The colours and shapes seem to evoke vivid emotions in people who perhaps haven’t been to India before: this is the beauty of the project.

The identity of typeface 

A street painter’s style is interlinked with their individual identity and background. An artist from North India will have a different colour scheme and form than an artist from the South. Each region also has their particular style of painting. Painters are very influenced by the people who taught them and there is a strong tradition of ‘master and disciple’. This tradition enforces a sense of identity and place in their work, which you don’t see with the generic fonts that we use at the minute. 

The power of letters

I come from advertising background where I was taught that the image is worth a thousand words. This may be true for advertising, but for me letters are always more powerful.As I said, they belong to an individual with an identity, sense of place and tradition. I don’t think an image can reflect the same emotion. I feel local script plays a very important role in every culture and we need to keep that sacred as digital can never express the emotion of human handwriting. 

Find out more about hand-painted type

Read more about Alchemy 2014

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James Mackintosh: Language is no barrier for musical collaboration

James Mackintosh BW

Ahead of the Folk Nations gig at Southbank Centre’s Alchemy festival on 19 May, Scottish percussionist James Mackintosh joins the group from the Kolkata Residency to showcase a unique collaborative project.

A veteran of the global folk scene, James shares his thoughts on collaboration and the folk scene in the UK.

The resurgence of folk music

There has been a Renaissance in folk music in the UK over the last two decades at least. From a Scottish perspective this has had a lot to do with a handful of inspired and energetic individuals who realised that to keep our traditions alive there needed to be a better infrastructure for the teaching and sharing of folk music for the younger generation. The “Feis” movement gathered strength very quickly and led to a much greater enthusiasm and pride in our traditional culture. Folk music became “cool” once more as teenagers realised the enjoyment of playing various traditional instruments in sessions and at Ceilidh’s.

The similarities of Indian and British folk music

From my time spent in India, I saw more similarities than differences between British and Indian folk music. I noticed so many connections in the content, mood and emotion of various songs and tunes. Rhythm is hugely important to both cultures and in my own collaborations with Rajasthani musicians, we had much common ground in melodic and rhythmic approaches. The folk music that I heard in India was wonderful, passionate, fun, sophisticated and authentic .Folk music at its best is timeless and can exist in many forms.

Folk music is inherently collaborative

Collaborations in the British Folk scene have certainly produced some exciting combinations of musicians over the years. Folk music is collaborative by nature, so different combinations of voice and instrument are very natural, as are collaborations between musicians all around the world. I have found that language is no barrier to musical collaboration; I think this can be a great example towards cooperation and understanding between different cultures and nations.

Read what Patsy Reid, Georgia Ruth, and Suhail Yusuf Khan have to say.

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Patsy Reid: ‘UK and Indian folk music have different roots yet are permeated by similarities’

patsy reid

Folk musician Patsy Reid took part in a week-long residency in Kolkata as part of the British Council’s three-year Folk Nations project. Patsy is now preparing to perform for a Folk Nations gig at the Southbank Centre in London on 19 May.

Patsy shares her experience of the Folk Nations Kolkata Residency and exploring Indian and UK folk music.

UK and Indian folk music: different roots yet permeated by similarities 

I think that there are similarities and differences between the UK and Indian folk music but my experience of them is really dependant on who I happened to meet and play music with during my three trips to India last year. Suhail Yusuf Khan, for example has so much respect for the tradition and he is known for doing so, but also goes off piste and plays really experimental, cutting-edge music, fusing Indian music with rock and other styles. I know many people like that in the UK. I think what I’m trying to say is that both country’s folk musics are extremely diverse and rich, making them similar contextually. Each is full of musicians working in all areas of the spectrum and although the actual roots seem very different, the nature, respect and geographical implications are exactly the same.  

Exploring the unknown

Before the residency I was a wee bit intimidated by Indian music. Believe me I still am and I have barely scratched the surface during my now 3 trips to India. But I suppose what I did learn is that it’s better to have a go and join in respectfully and informed than to be frightened of it. Often the results would surprise us all and it was exciting to create something new together. Suhail Yusuf Khan was great to work with as he understood all of our reservations and concerns about spoiling such beautiful music and put us at ease.

Recreating the feeling of Kolkata

I don’t think my latest work was consciously influenced by my experience in Kolkata, but there have been lots of reviews saying that it did! Influence is such a difficult thing to measure but I’m sure that my playing in general was inspired by our time in Kolkata. I also made the decision to make the album very soon after the residency and I think that’s because I was on such a high and feeling confident in my abilities as a collaborator. Making the album itself was like the Kolkata residency in that we were all involved in jamming and making the music and I wanted to recreate that relaxed, at home feeling with the musicians. I was just the facilitator.

Musical evolution since the Kolkata residency

We were delighted to be asked to play at Celtic Connections in January 2014 and although we were all part of the original group, there were lots of people, instruments and characters missing and so we really had to treat it as a new band and that was a really lovely opportunity. We were never going to recreate the special time in Kolkata but what we ended up doing was creating a totally different but equally special concert in Glasgow. We worked well as a team creatively and pulled it together in a relatively small amount of rehearsal time.

Advice for young people who want to forge a career in music

I would say, don’t be over or under confident. You have to be humble and open when working with new people yet forthcoming with your own ideas. I think it is important to work out why you are making music together and who it is for. Sometimes the answer is irrelevant and it should be ‘for the love of it’, but unfortunately that cannot always be the case. If the audience is expecting or assuming a certain experience then that needs to be taken into account.

Read more about what the other Folk Nations musicians have to say

Find out more about Folk Nations

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