Sunday, 6 January 2013


Today is the Concert de nouvel an in Limoux, by the Lyre Municipale - the harmonie of local music school under the baton of Guy Robert, who was also director of the music school until recently. It's a big group with children, alumni of the school, various amateur and professional musicians. As with last year's concert I've been drafted in to play tanpura for one piece - a little touch of exotica in the sea of rather militaristic wind, brass and percussion. The tanpura (which I bought for £30 in a launderette in Leicester) is treated with semi-reverential awe, and in fact most people don't realize that it's very easy to play. The only real skill is in tuning it, and even slightly out of tune it sounds horrible. Whenever I've played with Indian classical musicians, they will grab the tanpura from you and tune it for you. You can't trust a student to do that! John Mayer used to say it was the most boring instrument in the world to play, but actually the great thing is that you get to be on stage with your guru!
Here is Ali Zaki Haider, a senior disciple of the great rudra veena master Ustad Asad Ali Khan, accompanying his teacher...

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