And this is how it all began...
Around the 9th Century, for reasons unknown, thousands of inhabitants of the northwestern part of India began to emigrate west. They set out from the territories now known as the Punjab and Pakistan. In Persia they split, and some travelled via Palestine, Egypt and Morocco and through the Strait of Gibraltar, finally arriving, known already as Gypsies, in the south of Moorish Spain. In this region, previously known as Al-Andalus, various cultures co-existed for hundreds of years. That was perhaps the only place where Gypsies, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived peacefully together for a many years. Each group had its own customs, music's and instruments. After many years, in the beginning of the 19th Century, due to mutual influences and the mingling of their musical expressions, a mysterious and expressive type of music emerged. Today, it is know as Flamenco.
The Middle East, specifically India, was a cradle of the culture and language of most of Europe. Inhabitants of its northern regions together with Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China constituted the oldest civilizations in the world. It was there, in the Indus river valley, where the first religions, first laws and first instruments and musical notations appeared. The oldest record, written in India around 2000 BC, sets out mantras chanted to honour their gods. Based upon one, two or three notes, these chants were over time transformed into a heptatonic scale. The seven-note scale, already popular in 350 BC, was written as Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, and remains in this form today. Somewhere between the Second and Fifth Centuries the first book devoted to the art was written. It was called Bharata Natya Shastra. It contained a detailed description of vocal, dance and instrumental music. According to this book, Indian music is based on raga, that is a sequence of at least five notes of one scale.
A melody governed by raga is performed according to specific principles and with a certain mood. In the Sixth Century canons for music and art were established. This gave rise to the development of classical Indian music, which was based upon the system of ragas and rhythms accompanying them. To this day, they remain unchanged.
This musical culture also influenced other countries. Indian Brahmins introduced it to Persia and Arabia, and from there it was disseminated through the West. Simultaneously, Arab music entered Andalusia, than ruled by the Moors. The first monarch of Al-Andalus, Abd ar-Rahman I, invited to his court Arab musicians, who brought poetry, songs, musicians and musical instruments. In 822 a poet and singer came from Baghdad to Cordoba. His name was Abu al-Hasan Alî ibn Nafi and he was known as Zyryab (black bird). This extremely talented man played a key role in the musical education of the whole of Al-Andalus establishing an academy in which numerous musicians were trained. He introduced an Arab-Persian system of musical notation and improved the Arabian oud, which became a prototype of the contemporary guitar. Many years later musical development in India reached its peak. The great poet, musician and expert in Indian, Persian and Arab music, Amir Khushro (1254 - 1324) became a minister of a Mughal sultan. What he did for Indian music was unequalled by anything done before or after his time. He introduced many ragas and rhythms and, above all, he created two new instruments, which today is the basis of Indian music: the sitar and tabla.
Banished from their native country these Indians wandered slowly further west, absorbing facets of the cultures of the countries through which they passed. When they reached Spain they were no longer the same people. Although they looked similar, in terms of culture, language, customs as well as music they had considerably changed. Unfortunately, they did not record their music; we do not know how it sounded, or how much of it has survived. And do not know what mark it has left, if any, on the flamenco and which of its elements are rooted in India and which in Andalusia. But even if both these fascinating genres cannot be proved to be closely related, listening their emotionality, expression, rhythm, depth and sensitivity must convince the listener that related they must be.
Text by Miguel Czachowski
Miguel CZACHOWSKI - flamenco guitar, percussion, palmas
Born in 1974 into a family of flamenco lovers where he was raised in a flamenco music environment. At the age of 12 he began learning to play the guitar. After his initial studies he took master classes from professional flamenco players such as Rafael Cortés, Salva del Real and Gerardo Núñez, which solidified his complete dedication to flamenco. In 1992, he formed a flamenco group gradually enlarging the numbers of the artists from a duo to septet. His group "Viva Flamenco!" plays both traditional and contemporary flamenco mixed with influences of Indian and Jazz music. Performing both as a solo artist and also with his musical group, Miguel has won first prizes in many folk festivals and is now the leading flamenco player in his country. He has performed and recorded with many great artists and groups and he concretised all over Poland as well as abroad (Austria, Germany, Italy, France, England, Belgium, Holland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belarus and India). For several years he has been teaching flamenco guitar, and writing articles and interviews, promoting the art of flamenco music in magazines as "Flamenco International Magazine", "Jazz Forum" and "Swiat Gitary". In 1998, after a performance in Italy, he was invited to India to teach flamenco guitar at the Academy of Music and Fine Arts in Nagpur. There he started studying Indian music, learning to play the sitar under the guidance of Avaneendra Sheolikar. His fascination for flamenco and Indian music inspired him to go back to the roots of the Gypsy music and record this CD.
Avaneendra SHEOLIKAR (India) - sitar
Born in 1969 in a well-reputed family of musicians, Avaneendra started his initial training at the age of five with his father Pt. Sudhakar Sheolikar, and then under an illustrious master of sitar - Pt. Bimelandu Mukherjee. As a result of his Guru's brilliant guidance he has developed a complete mastery over the instrument. The special feature of his performance is the disciplined development of the ragas based on melodious and rhythmical style. The depth of feeling and emotion he expresses through his music is note - worthy. He has participated in a number of music conferences in India and abroad performing in Germany, Italy, Portugal and Russia. He received numerous awards and honours in most prestigious musical competitions. Currently, he is working at All India Radio in Nagpur.
Sandesh POPATKAR (India) - tabla
Born in 1967, he belongs to a family of musical tradition. His father and first teacher, the late Pt. Shankarrao Popatkar, was a renowned tabla artist of India and had played in national musical programs on All India Radio. Currently, he is under the musical guidance of Pt. Gopalrao Wadegaonkar of Farrukhabad Gharana tabla style. In 1986, he received the prestigious Tal Mani Award and one year later he started working at All India Radio in Nagpur. In 1988, he started performing abroad as a solo artist as well as an accompanist of all forms of Indian music (vocal, instrumental and dance). He has preformed in such countries as England, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland and Portugal.
Pierluca PINEROLI (Spain) - percussion, konnakol, choirs
Born in 1970, at the age of 9 he started his musical education at the conservatory of Madrid, initially studying piano, and then shifting to percussion. He interrupted his classical education due to his increasing interest for the improvisation and the drum kit, in which Pedro López guided him. He also studied and performed free improvised music. His interests in ethnic and flamenco music led him to play the cajón (box), African and Indian instruments, which he has been playing in several musical groups and recordings. In 1998, he was given a scholarship to study tabla, under the guidance of Sandesh Popatkar, as well as classical Hindustani singing in the P.K. Salve Academy of Fine Arts and Music in Nagpur (India). In 2002 he returned to India, where he studied with two great masters of the tabla; Pt. Suresh Talwalkar and Shesh Giri Hangal. In Bangalore he also studied the concepts of the Karnatic rhythmic system through Konnakol (the vocal recitation of the sounds of mridangam) with Giridhar Udupa and B.C. Manjunath. In the Netherlands, he is currently pursuing a master's degree in Karnatic music as well as recording and performing in the most varied musical contexts, such as classical-contemporary music, jazz and Hindustani classical music. He has performed in several countries in Europe, Asia and North America, such as Malaysia, Turkey, Poland and USA, to name a few.
Prasad KHAPARDE (India) - vocal
Born in 1973 into a family of music loving educators, Prasad grew up in an ambience, which not only allowed him to play with the sounds, but also helped him to experiment with them under the guidance of D.V. Phanke and Suman Choudhary. Encouraged by his parents and teachers young Prasad became familiar with the stage pretty early in his life by participating in numerous competitions and concerts. His dedication and hard work has made it possible for him to be awarded many first prizes. He received his Master's degree of Indian classical vocal music in 1997 from Amravti University. Blessed with a melodious voice, talent and sense of rhythm, Prasad has made his presence felt wherever he has preformed. He was a scholar of the Music Research Academy of Calcutta from 1996 to 1999 where he was under the tutelage of the renowed master Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, the top-ranking vocalist of the present generation. Within the short span of few years he sailed through the numerous competitions and conferences, which brought him many prestigious awards and achievements.
1. Raag 'n' Olé (rumba) 5'21'' (A. Sheolikar, M. Czachowski)
The opening piece is a fusion of the two elements: Indian raga with modern sounds of jazzy flamenco, based on very groovy and very dynamic rumba rhythm. The composition opens with konnakol - a type of percussion language that is recitation of rhythmic syllables used in percussive and dance traditions in Carnatic music of the South of India. Originally, it was the oral rendering of the rhythmic patterns played on mridangam.
Miguel - guitars, palmas
Avee - sitar
Sandesh - tabla
Pierluca - cajón, caxixi, konnakol, triangles, palmas
Adam - bass
Carlos - jaleo
Ireneusz - palmas
Tomasz Pala - piano
2. Nagpur (sevillanas/dhun) 4'08'' (A. Sheolikar, M. Czachowski)
The dhun is a kind of a light instrumental music form. It has similarities to the Andalusian sevillanas, which is beautiful and enchanting folk dance from the region of Seville, Spain. Similar in rhythm, light colouring and a simple melody are common elements in both forms. The composition allows a wonderful dialogue between two different stringed instruments: the sitar and the guitar. Classical Indian music does not have any harmonic accompaniment; the melody and the rhythm are the exclusive means of expression. Here, the string quartet implements the harmonica background of the leading melody transmitting it to completely fresh, "third dimension".
Miguel - guitar, shakers
Avee - sitar
Sandesh - tabla
Adam - bass
Members of AUKSO Chamber Orchestra
3. Herencia Hindú (soleá por bulerías) 6'42'' (Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan)
Ektal is the first rhythm that has been established in classical Indian music, its structure consists of 12 beats in one cycle. Equally in flamenco music, the compás (rhythm), which is the base for all forms, has the same structure but different accents. In this piece both rhythms have been combined - ektal (Indian) and soleá por bulerías (kind of flamenco) - and a new rhythm based on the two was created. The instruments used are the oldest instruments stemming from Indian and flamenco music: tabla, palmas (hand clapping) and tapping on the table. The songs are based on raga bhairavi, which, thanks to its scale Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa (D, Eb, F, G, A, B, C, D), are very similar to most songs in flamenco.
Prasad - vocal
Miguel - guitars, palmas, nudillos, tanpura, bombo
Pierluca - tabla, nudillos
Maria Pomianowska - sarangi
4. Taliquete (jaleo) 3'26" (M. Czachowski)
The title of this rhythmical composition is the union of words tal and soniquete, which describe in both Indian music and in flamenco music the important rhythmical structure. This is an improvisation on the bulerías rhythm with the use of all the most popular percussion instruments used both in India and Andalusia. You will be able to hear the andalusian cajón, palmas and zapateado (flamenco foot work) and typical sounds from southern Indian music morsing, ghatam and konnakol. Rhythm is extremely important in both cultures, resulting that this composition has no melodic instrument, just pure rhythm and only rhythm.
Miguel - cajón, shaker, palo de lluvia, palmas, manjira, bombo, voice
Pierluca - cajón
Sandesh - tabla
Ireneusz - palmas, voice
Giridhar Udupa - ghatam, konnakol, morsing
Carlos Troya - zapateados, jaleo
5. Mohabbat Ka Khazana (tangos/qawwali) 5'16'' (P. Dhakde, M. Czachowski)
The cheerful songs qawwali, which have been sung in India and Pakistan for over 700 years, are very similar to flamenco songs. It is the guitar, the fundamental baring instrument in flamenco, which makes this piece very Andalusian-like. Even rhythm and simple harmony makes this music very light, which is widely used in the tangos flamencos. This song is dedicated to Babamama, who is the lyricist of this piece. Thanks to him, the Nagpur Academy existed and without it, this record would never been created.
Prasad - vocals
Miguel - guitars, palmas, shakers, kanjira, djembe, palo de lluvia, manjira
Pierluca - sabar, palmas, choirs
Barbara - choirs
Adam - bass
Domingo Patricio - flute
Sagar Jarel - dholak
6. Gujari Todi (raga) 8'03'' (A. Sheolikar)
The raga is the oldest musical system that we know of. It is almost completely improvised. An element that is never changes during its performance is the scale. Each raga has its own scale, mood, season and part of the day when it is to be performed. In Indian classical music there are hundreds of different ragas, but this relatively young one was in existence at the time of Raja Man Singh of Gwahor (1486 - 1517) who lived at a time of high musical achievement. Gujari Todi, which produces a very unique mood, and today, is rarely used as a concert raga. Little is known about its form. It is not one of the most frequently used ragas and has only a 6-tone scale.
Avee - sitar
Sandesh - tabla
Miguel - tanpura
7. Kyabathe (bulerías) 6'37'' (M. Czachowski)
The Indian exclamation kyabathe, just as the Spanish expression, ¡olé! , is shouted spontaneously by musicians and public to express their enthusiasm. In this piece the exclamations are not lacking, which is typical for such dynamic forms of flamenco such as the bulerías. This composition also implicates those elements, which in Indian music besides mysticism are expressions, instrumental virtuosity and sense of rhythm. The elements of both cultures are dovetailed in this composition, which is based on most near to a flamenco scale - in Indian music it is referred as basant mukhari.
Miguel - guitar, palmas, tanpura
Avee - sitar
Sandesh - tabla
Pierluca - cajón, palmas
Carlos - jaleo, zapateado
Yrvis Mendez - bass
8, 9. Indialucía (zambra) 7'30'' (M. Czachowski)
The title composition was the first track to be recorded. It was recorded in India in 1999. The Zambra is one of the oldest and, presently, one of the most rare forms in flamenco music. Its traditional form is deeply rooted in oriental influence that is not often heard in other styles of flamenco. Usually it was the Moorish element, which predominated in flamenco, however, we have enriched this guitar form by adding characteristic tones of the sitar, tabla and tanpura.
Miguel - guitar, tanpura, swarmandal, gong
Avee - sitar
Sandesh - tabla
10. Amanecer (martinete) 2'54'' (P. Khaparde)
The closing piece is based on the oldest Indian scale - bhairav. The singer improvises on its tones using a fundamental, non-rhythmical part of raga called aalap. The singer starts within the frame of the pure Hindustani alaap. As it climbs up to the upper register of the scale, almost unnoticeably he switches to the tragic aesthetic of the martinete, ending with a deep quejío (lament). This Indian raga reminds flamenco not only thanks to its scale, but also voice ornamentation. We will hear the sounds of an anvil towards the end, which before was a unique accompanying instrument when flamenco sounds were flowing only from a gypsy smithy.
Prasad - vocal
Miguel - yunque
Instruments used in the recording:
flamenco guitar, sitar, tabla, cajón, palmas, tanpura, kanjira, manjira, dholak, sarangi, shaker, palo de lluvia, swarmandal, djembe, gong, sabar, caxixi, triangle, ghatam, morsing, konnakol, traverse flute, zapateado, bombo, bass guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, and vocal, choirs, jaleo.
Miguel CZACHOWSKI - flamenco guitars, percussion, palmas
Pierluca PINEROLI - percussion, konnakol, choirs
Avaneendra SHEOLIKAR - sitar
Sandesh POPATKAR - tabla
Prasad KHAPARDE - vocal
Giridhar UDUPA - ghatam, morsing, konnakol
Domingo PATRICIO - traverse flute
Carlos TROYA - zapateado, jaleo
Yrvis MENDEZ - fretless bass guitar
Sagar JAREL - dholak
Maria POMIANOWSKA - sarangi
Tomasz PALA - piano
Adam GŁOŚNICKI - bass guitar
Ireneusz WYROBEK - palmas, voice
Barbara CZACHOWSKA - choirs
Members of "Aukso" Chamber Orchestra:
Marta HUGET-SKIBA - violin
Natalia WALAWSKA - violin
Anna GRZYBAŁA - viola
Aleksandra STECZEK- cello