Bows on the groove: Violin Nomads to perform in Chennai at Alliance Francaise
Violin Nomads came about as a result of two musicians getting in touch through Facebook and ending up listening to each other’s music. Indian violinist Rupam Ghosh and French violinist Antoine Marhem formed the group in 2017, and after a few concerts, they brought on board vibraphonist Eric Nomad for rhythms, thus completing Violin Nomads. This week in Chennai, they will be joined by French percussionist Antoine Morineau, as they perform at Alliance Française of Madras tomorrow. Ahead of the performance, we caught up with Antoine and Rupam to know more about the musical philosophy of the troupe, and what to expect from their upcoming performance. Excerpts:
When Violin Nomads was formed, what were the early challenges you faced?
Antoine Marhem: We came from two different musical worlds, so our codes are not the same. We were very attentive to each other and listened carefully to each of the melodies that we played. Earlier, I didn’t play Indian music at all, as I was working on French gypsy jazz music and eastern Europe folk gypsy music. I still don’t play Indian music but I try to understand the essence of it. Indian music is undoubtedly one of the most complex music in the world with a lot of codes and structures.
What are the big lessons you learnt as the group evolved?
AM: Along with the project, the pieces too evolved, as and when some great rhythmical musicians joined us, lending the group different kind of musical colours, but on the basis of our core — two violins, — it represented two different and distinct ways of apprehending and using music in our daily lives. Music is a universal language, and even if we don’t have the same codes, we can understand and be kind to each other.
How much has your soundscape evolved over the years?
AM: Our sound is a mix of Indian classical music and jazz and eastern Europe gypsy folk music. I can play gypsy style in a classical raga and Rupam can play classical Hindustani style on a Romanian folk piece. The way we mix it is very interesting I think and as years went by, it became more precise and clear.
What is your inspiration when producing fresh music?
AM: For me, inspiration is in daily life, my family and friends, the people I meet and the nature I live in. In my music, this can be observed in a mix between the French improvisations and the gypsy style that I have adopted. I always have these two things in mind and my finger when I play something new. I like emotional and slow pieces as much as dance and festive music.
Rupam Ghosh: For my music, Lord Shiva and Maa Narmada always inspire me. Like most creative artists, nature also inspires me. Also, the moon is very important for me to think about new music.
What about the musicians who have inspired you?
AM: On one side, the gypsy violinist Caliu from the Taraf de Haidouks (or Taraf de Caliu) from Romania, and some old folk unknown musicians from Eastern Europe. On the other side, some 20th-century composers with their own melodic style like Chilly Gonzales, Philip Glass, Yann Tiersen and Erik Satie.
RG: Obviously my Guruji, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is my inspiration. Besides him, Pandit Ravi Shankar, always.
At Edouard Michelin Auditorium. January 18. 6 pm. Entry free.