The Language of Music: A Q&A with Tarana

Tarana~World Fusion

 

Join Tarana for a concert and live webcast here at Empty Sea at 8pm on Saturday, November 2nd.

Click here to learn more and to purchase advance tickets.

Tarana is a world-fusion group performing original and adapted instrumental music that is inspired by many global genres including Indian, Arabic, Eastern European, Western Classical, Flamenco, Latin and American Jazz/Fusion.​ The members of Tarana believe that music can heal the body and alter the consciousness and enjoy creating a diverse sound that can range from subtle and subdued…to intense and profound.

You describe your music as “world fusion.”  What does that mean to you?

Jason Everett:  This is a great question and while it seems pretty straight forward on one hand, I am developing an appreciation for just how complex a question this is, and the many potential answers there are.  To speak in the most simple terms, “world fusion” is a type of music that blends different elements of culturally diverse styles and has been around for many years…some would say forever.

In a more complex view, there are so many different cultures and their musical expressions around the world, that when you start blending them, the  results can really be anything; the combinations are endless.  I mean really…. ALL music is world music.

Music is a language and as such, it evolves and is influenced by other users of the language.  Slang, diction, and dialects are all different expressions of language.  In music, our language is inclusive of rhythm, tone, scales, timbre, dynamics, and emotion.  Some music can be very structured and some can be totally non-structured.  When a musician hears an artist playing something they like, that influences them and can (and often does) color their own musical expression.

So for Tarana, the four of us have heard and appreciate much of the same styles of music.  It is our shared love of these cultural styles that has brought us together. In our case, we share a great appreciation for Classical Indian, Middle Eastern, Latin, Classical, Jazz, and other styles of music.

We also appreciate the similarities in these styles….for example, Jazz and Indian music are very improvisational in nature and require an intimate listening relationship between musicians.  Classical and Middle Eastern music are often very structured and have very specific arrangements.  We embrace all of these elements.

How do you meld together the different styles you incorporate into your music?

JE: It is actually a pretty natural process for us, meaning that we don’t have to force anything.  As I said before, we are influenced by what we like so, speaking for myself, I love Indian music and also love unison melody.  Indian music typically has a singular tonal center over a drone and does not have chordal modulation.  It is also often in odd time signatures.  Much of my compositions are in this vein.  I will create a groove, and then compose a melody over it.  After that, there is often space for improvisation.  This would be a typical jazz format, melody/solo/melody.

Ann and Kenyon have different methods of composition.  Ann has been bringing some really exciting new work to the group that is in a more classical vein, where there is no improvisation and the entire piece is scripted.  Much of Kenyon’s work is melodically driven as well as rhythmically driven.  It really all comes down to what inspiration we are gifted with at the moment we start writing a piece…

You did not mention any compositions from Anil, your tabla player.

JE: Anil has been studying with the legendary tabla master Zakir Hussein and is one of the finest tabla players I have ever seen.  He has been so focused on his studies that I don’t think he has had much time to compose for the group.   However, Anil has an innate ability to listen and phrase with the other musicians and is involved with the creative process by contributing suggestions to help enhance and refine each piece that is presented to the group.

I am curious about your referencing “classical music.” Can you elaborate about that?

JE: Each musician is building from their musical roots.  Ann, Kenyon and I all were raised playing Western classical music, and Anil as well but more of the Indian classical tradition.  There is quite a bit more common ground in these styles than I would have originally thought.

 

When playing music from cultures and backgrounds that are not always your own, do you feel a responsibility towards that particular culture?  If so, can you speak to that?

JE:  Again, speaking for myself, I have noticed a historic tension that is constant between the traditional and the contemporary in nearly every art form and probably in many older cultures. When I fell in love with Classical Indian music, I was about 19 and realized then that I could never really become a classical Indian musician because that tradition starts at such a young age.  I also realized that as much as I love it, I love other styles as well.  So we as a band are very clear about our being a “Fusion” ensemble.  We respect and honor the traditional cultures that have influenced our music, but do not claim to be traditional musicians. We love many traditions and choose to let those influences flow through us and join together as something new.

Your instrumentation is somewhat atypical.  How did you come together as a band?

JE:  I would not say that our instrumentation is necessarily “atypical” but I would say we have some unique instruments. There have been many groups that have a similar instrumentation (with guitar, tabla, solo instrument, and bass).  This is not a common instrumentation, but not all together uncommon.  Other groups with a similar instrumentation include some of our influences like Shakti with John McGlaughlin, Oregon, Ancient Future, Trilok Gurtu, and Paul Winter.    Our instruments include a contrabass flute which is seven feet long and is played standing up, a Native American triple flute, the glissentar which is a fretless 11-string guitar, my “Om Bass” which is a seven-stringed fretless bass, and my electric sitar.

Ann, Ken and Anil started playing together a few years before I was invited to join them.  We’ve been collaborating together for the last year, in which time we produced a CD and have performed festivals and venues around the northwest.

You speak of music as healing– please describe this more.

JE:  I think the four of us would probably have different answers to this question.  I will say that from my point of view, music and sound are simply vibration….sonic energy.   Quantum physics has proven that all atoms (including the ones that give us form) primarily exist as energy and can change when affected by an outside influence.  Musical vibration is an outside influence that causes other things to vibrate together.  This is called resonance.

Imagine the musicians on stage all playing in time…inside us we are all feeling the beat and the rhythm….we are resonating at the same tempo…we are connected to each other through sound.  Now imagine that you as an audience member are resonating with us…in the same sonic space and with the same rhythmic pulse.  You too are connected with us through sound.  Then let’s say that like someone guiding a meditation, we take ourselves and our listeners on an internal journey  with the music to a place of beauty and inner peace where the trivialities of daily life fade from our consciousness.  That would be a healing experience, would it not?

Sound healing is actually a rapidly growing field and our guitarist, Kenyon has been studying it quite seriously for several years.  In fact, he works at a hospital playing music for people who are ill as part of their therapy, so there are very practical methods of music healing.  Ann has a Fellowship in Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) and studied with her Aunt and Founder of the Bonny Method of GIM, Dr. Helen Bonny. (http://www.gim-trainings.com/index.html)

My music tends to have tension in it…I find that in life, there is struggle and that is reflected in my music.  The healing moment in my music is when that tension resolves and the struggle is over.

What’s next for Tarana~World Fusion?  Tell us what you’re most excited about!

JE:   We love performing and taking our audiences on musical journeys.  Our goal is to continue composing, recording and performing in venues both in real space and cyber space.  Since our fan base is distributed around the world, we are excited that our online concert through Empty Sea Studios will provide more timely access and allow our fans to share our musical experience.

Join Tarana for a concert and live webcast here at Empty Sea at 8pm on Saturday, November 2nd.

Click here to learn more and to purchase advance tickets.

 

Comments are closed.