During the last few years Ashish Sankritayan and Skye Løfvander have performed together in a broad variety of different acoustic spaces in a constant quest to develop a common platform for their individual styles to inspire each other without com-promising their core. The concerts of the duo are profound meetings between east and west, tradition and innovation.
Dhrupad and overtone singing is an unusual combination, which is fertile for many reasons: The Indian music has its basis in the exact perception of the regularities of the harmonic series which is the prime material for all overtone singers. Furthermore, many of the melodic lines that are used have roots in both the old Indian and European traditions.
Given the opportunity to use Odeon’s simulations, the duo could choose the acoustic spaces which suited each of their different musical expressions the most.
The recordings were executed in the 1,000 m3 anechoic room at the Technical University of Denmark, which is one of the best of its kind. The use of Brüel & Kjær low noise microphones provided a rendering of the singing as dry and neutral as technically possible. Afterwards the simulated acoustics were added to the recordings. The studio situation was a striking contrast to the noble resonant spaces of the past and also a challenge for the singers, but the resulting recordings are absolutely worth the effort.
Ashish Sankrityayan is one of the leading dhrupad singers of our time. Dhrupad has its roots back in the hymns and prayers of Vedic times, but has become transformed into a deeply meditative and subtly refined art form. During the mogul rule in North India – at the time of Sinan in Turkey - it achieved a status as court music, and its rich grammar was formalized.
Dhrupad is performed with a unique presence, ultimately being created in the moment, improvised on a basis of an intricate framework. The outline of a raga is not merely a selection of notes but also consists of rules for structure, rhythm, intervals, melodic phrases and intonation.
The Hallmarks of Dhrupad are the melodic nuances with their microtonal movements and an extraordinary control of the intonation and body resonance in both gentle and powerful passages.
The technique of dhrupad is developed during decades of intensive commitment to the yoga of sound. The technical skills, however, are only means to the expression of soul through sound, breathing and subtle body movements.
The singing is accompanied by the big tanpura string instrument.
Skye Løfvander’s overtone singing is part of a development which has mainly taken place in the USA and Europe during the last 30 years.
The techniques have similarities to the traditional singing of Mongolia and the Tuva Republic, but whereas these nomads most commonly use a very contracted voice and solely keep the primary voice as a drone, some singers in the west have taken up the challenge of a singing style with more dimensions, where the overtone layer and primary voice may have multi-facetted relations.
Overtone singing is one of the most fascinating possibilities of the human voice. By splitting the sound, a skilled singer may sing in two or even three parts with himself, normally with a distance of two or three octaves between the two layers. The quality of the upper layer may appear ethereal, enchanting, flutelike...
Moreover, overtone singing offers a holistic approach to the understanding of the common source of language, mathematics and music. The modern interpretations of this truly enthralling art often draw on the early sacred traditions of European singing and the listener may find traces of both Gregorian and Byzantine singing here. It is music to become absorbed by, sending the listener on an inner journey.
Subtle Voices: Subtle Summit
Dhrupad and overtone singing in the digitally simulated acoustics of the Sokullu Mosque and the Hagia Sophia Cathedral.
Recorded in the Anechoic Studio, the Technical University of Denmark, 2007-08.