Beyond Barriers

We live in a world of walls, divided, segregated, discriminated and separated. The least they could've done was left music out of the divisions," says Salil Bhatt, as he delves into this thought with a certain degree of depth and maturity. As expressive as he is with his music and words, the creator of satvik veena and son of Grammy-winning musician Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Salil questions the wall between Hindustani classical and Carnatic music. "One is somehow a copyright of the north and the other, of the south. Why differentiate when the base of it all the swar is the same and that does not belong to anyone, nor can it be held or controlled," reflects Salil.

Somewhere, down the years, it was this observation that took the form of music of a new raga first at an unconscious level, and then, a more precise, conscious and tangible level, when he played it out for his father. "It was at the Mumbai airport lounge as Panditji (that's how he addresses his father), had a couple of minutes to spare," says Salil Coming from a family that has invented and created the veena trinity vishwa veena, mohan veena and satvik veena the discovery and development of a new raga in a new album was perhaps in order. Called Vishwa Kauns, the raga, Salil hopes, will bridge the gap between Hindustani and Carnatic music. "The frequencies and vibrations of ragas and music create an image in our mind and stimulate it. With Vishwa Kauns, I have taken this very frequency and scale to a new scale," says Salil.

Vishwa Kauns is a combination of many notes set to composition in tritaal. It brings together an exquisite synthesis of ragas such as Jog, Jogkauns with usage of rishabh through a unique technique that enhances the beauty of the raga. "It envelopes the sentiments of romance and celebration, and is ideal for listening at night," he says. The raga has been introduced in Salil's new album, Strings of Freedom, a tribute to 50 golden years of his father, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt's musical journey.

True to its title, the album frees the mind of stress and other bondages. While Vishwa Kauns is ideal for soirees, Ahir Bhairav gives the album a perfect morning rendition. Tabla player Prithviraj Mishra accompanies both father and son in this album.

A globetrotting instrumentalist who was also nominated for the Canadian Grammys in 2010, Salil feels that it is the Indian classical musicians "rigidity and orthodox attitude" that doesn't get many to a pedestal such as the Grammys,except for favourites such as Ravi Shankar and family and AR Rahman. "We live closed lives, with our misconceptions and inhibitions. We need to shed all this and do more collaborations," he says.

As for the raga, it has not been patented or copyrighted yet. "All we need is the credit, that's all," says Salil.

Salil Bhatt will perform alongside table maestro Cassius Khan organised at Pracheen Kala Kendra, Sector 35, on December 11, 6:30 pm onwards

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