Nakul Krishnamurthy in conversation with Khyam Allami
Nakul Krishnamurthy and Khyam Allami discuss the intercracies of tunings and the construction and methods behind non-western modes of music as well as Nakul’s commission for Counterflows At Home.
Khyam Allami is an Iraqi-British multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, researcher and founder of Nawa Recordings.
Primarily an Oud player, his artistic research focuses on the development of contemporary and experimental practice based on the fundamentals of Arabic music, with a focus on tuning and microtonality.
Currently he is completing an M4C/AHRC funded PhD in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University. This three year practice-based research degree will see him explore the application of contemporary acoustic, electro-acoustic and electronic compositional techniques and processes to Arabic music through the use of technology and various instrumentation.
1 00:00:00.000 --> 00:00:00.659 Khyam Allami: 2 00:00:02.399 --> 00:00:02.790 Khyam Allami: 3 00:00:05.640 --> 00:00:08.519 Khyam Allami: You mentioned this topic in the 4 00:00:10.290 --> 00:00:19.560 Khyam Allami: Podcast interview and I spoke with Mark Fell about it. I participated in his class the week after you did 5 00:00:19.830 --> 00:00:21.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yeah he was telling me 6 00:00:22.110 --> 00:00:29.910 Khyam Allami: I think this is a really important thing to consider and to dig deep into. 7 00:00:30.330 --> 00:00:43.410 Khyam Allami: Obviously the exclusionary politics is hyper-important within your new composition but “navigating the gaze” as you called it, the gaze of both the Western audiences and the gaze of your 8 00:00:44.430 --> 00:00:47.490 Khyam Allami: Local audiences, wherever you might be in India, is hard 9 00:00:48.870 --> 00:00:53.370 Khyam Allami: I would love to hear more from you about where you're at in your thinking about that 10 00:00:54.720 --> 00:01:01.200 Khyam Allami: and how it's influencing your practice in any way, if it is 11 00:01:01.950 --> 00:01:11.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That is a very difficult question to answer, but there are a lot of things that I started discovering when I started thinking about these topics and 12 00:01:12.030 --> 00:01:21.420 Nakul Krishnamurthy: One of them was obviously the problems with the tuning systems like you mentioned - and your project is brilliant when it comes to that 13 00:01:23.100 --> 00:01:36.180 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For me, another question that has always troubled me was basically kind of thinking about a note as a fixed frequency 14 00:01:37.200 --> 00:01:48.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: or, for that matter, if you think about a note as being fixed in the frequency spectrum 15 00:01:49.200 --> 00:01:50.100 Nakul Krishnamurthy: as a single tone or single value 16 00:01:50.280 --> 00:01:51.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For me, that was a bit 17 00:01:52.860 --> 00:01:58.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Disconcerting, because I was always thinking about, how can you just 18 00:01:59.340 --> 00:02:05.640 Nakul Krishnamurthy: take a note out of the context that it belongs in 19 00:02:06.480 --> 00:02:10.860 Nakul Krishnamurthy: You know it's a part of a scale, or how it relates to the tonic 20 00:02:11.130 --> 00:02:16.740 Nakul Krishnamurthy: You have to think about it in terms of music 21 00:02:16.980 --> 00:02:27.660 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So how can you think about note in isolation, having a specific note on a five line stave as something that is always fixed and then you give it a context by drawing 22 00:02:27.960 --> 00:02:39.330 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And so the context comes later. It is kind of like scientifically fixing a note in that frequency space and just deciding that that is that note 23 00:02:39.690 --> 00:02:46.290 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But, for me, coming from a carnatic perspective, a note couldn't be imagined as a single frequency value, it is something that 24 00:02:47.220 --> 00:02:57.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Moves through time and space. Sometimes a note can be a fixed value in relation to a tonic but sometimes it cannot be. It will be constantly in motion 25 00:02:57.810 --> 00:03:00.150 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Something that you cannot assign a fixed value to 26 00:03:00.540 --> 00:03:07.440 Nakul Krishnamurthy: because it oscillates between two different other notes 27 00:03:07.920 --> 00:03:22.320 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So how do you understand such a note that is being indicated by a movement between 28 00:03:23.160 --> 00:03:26.190 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Two notes or two values 29 00:03:26.850 --> 00:03:30.690 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So thinking about this 30 00:03:32.280 --> 00:03:35.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The limits of the European thinking started becoming very clear 31 00:03:36.300 --> 00:03:41.730 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When you see that you cannot extract a note from its context 32 00:03:41.970 --> 00:03:50.610 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That is what is constantly happening when you look at it from European perspective, this Orientalist view of thinking about Indian music or any other forms of music 33 00:03:50.910 --> 00:03:57.030 Nakul Krishnamurthy: always extracted from its context 34 00:03:57.600 --> 00:04:13.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Another problem is obviously thinking about the music that I make. 35 00:04:14.340 --> 00:04:23.250 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And people responding to it by classifying it as a specific genre, which carries with it the baggage of the genre and 36 00:04:23.400 --> 00:04:24.990 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The Western history of the genre 37 00:04:25.440 --> 00:04:37.590 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I am a bit uncomfortable with people calling my music drone or something like that, because that's not what I'm trying to do here, and it is classified like that only because it is easy to do so. 38 00:04:38.790 --> 00:04:43.320 Nakul Krishnamurthy: just because that is what you're used to as a Western audience. 39 00:04:44.010 --> 00:04:50.550 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For me that is problematic, and that puts me in this difficult spot again and again. 40 00:04:50.940 --> 00:05:01.950 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When presenting my music, I become a representative of India, and there are certain notions of how I am supposed to be 41 00:05:02.280 --> 00:05:09.000 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And so the whole question starts becoming contextualized in terms of the politics between East and the West. 42 00:05:09.330 --> 00:05:15.480 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For instance, this piece has got a lot to do with the Indian political setup of social caste systems but. 43 00:05:15.930 --> 00:05:26.850 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The moment you start thinking about it as an “Indian music” piece it gets recontextualised as reflecting the politics between East and the West 44 00:05:27.360 --> 00:05:38.670 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It either conforms to the stereotypical tropes of how Indian music is supposed to be, or it subverts the trope of how Indian music is supposed to be. But then both these ideas depend on how the West sees India 45 00:05:39.090 --> 00:05:43.290 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So it always gets recontextualized in a lot of different ways 46 00:05:43.470 --> 00:05:52.650 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The notes that I use, the kind of music that I make, the genre that it belongs to, and what it is supposed to do 47 00:05:52.980 --> 00:06:00.570 Nakul Krishnamurthy: This kind of pressure from the West makes it very difficult, but my music is being presented in the West, so it is something that comes as a byproduct. 48 00:06:00.930 --> 00:06:02.640 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But yeah very difficult to 49 00:06:03.030 --> 00:06:04.500 Nakul Krishnamurthy: navigate. 50 00:06:06.240 --> 00:06:16.020 Khyam Allami: Have you shared your work with musicians from India and had any feedback from them about what their gaze on it might be? 51 00:06:16.830 --> 00:06:28.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: A few people, but the thing is, I don’t know a lot of people who are familiar with an experimental approach or who are 52 00:06:28.560 --> 00:06:37.290 Nakul Krishnamurthy: receptive to that kind of an approach, so if it goes into the carnatic domain, the responses that I get are, this is not authentic 53 00:06:37.830 --> 00:06:44.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And this doesn't do that, or I don't understand what's going on here and so, that's all. 54 00:06:44.550 --> 00:06:56.640 Khyam Allami: I've suffered the same. The other day, when I shared a video of the performance that we did using Apotome, somebody put a comment on Facebook saying 55 00:07:01.470 --> 00:07:02.820 Khyam Allami: Where's the oud? 56 00:07:02.850 --> 00:07:09.870 Khyam Allami: I totally understand you and I feel that frustration. 57 00:07:10.920 --> 00:07:12.840 Khyam Allami: Does that make you feel more. 58 00:07:14.430 --> 00:07:17.460 Khyam Allami: confident about what you do? In terms of 59 00:07:18.690 --> 00:07:20.400 Khyam Allami: The fact that you're 60 00:07:21.510 --> 00:07:27.360 Khyam Allami: Taking a more individual and personal approach, rather than trying to fit within a 61 00:07:28.470 --> 00:07:32.430 Khyam Allami: cultural context. Or does it make you feel 62 00:07:34.500 --> 00:07:40.500 Khyam Allami: A little bit less confident and more disconcerted with the ideas that you want to present? 63 00:07:42.570 --> 00:07:43.710 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I guess both. 64 00:07:44.790 --> 00:07:45.930 Nakul Krishnamurthy: On the one hand 65 00:07:48.090 --> 00:08:01.650 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I am worried about my music not being accepted anywhere, you know, obviously, as a musician I want my music to reach other people. But then, at the same time 66 00:08:02.760 --> 00:08:12.480 Nakul Krishnamurthy: After every composition, every piece of work that I do, when I listen back to it, one of the ways in which I check whether it is good for me or not. 67 00:08:13.080 --> 00:08:24.120 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Is basically by asking how a Carnatic and a Western audience would see it. If the carnatic audience would call it not carnatic, but 68 00:08:24.150 --> 00:08:26.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Any other audience would call it Carnatic 69 00:08:26.580 --> 00:08:28.530 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Then I think the piece is successful for me. 70 00:08:28.950 --> 00:08:34.890 Khyam Allami: So the people who are within the domain should reject it, but people who are outside the domain should actually attribute the music to that field. 71 00:08:35.370 --> 00:08:41.880 Nakul Krishnamurthy: If that tension’s there, I think the music is good, and that is kind of my rule of thumb. 72 00:08:44.880 --> 00:08:59.010 Khyam Allami: That's really beautiful. I think that's a great way to look at it, because then you are somehow satisfying your own desires, that are linked to both of these worlds and actually 73 00:09:00.240 --> 00:09:09.090 Khyam Allami: many other worlds, you know you're playing within the grey area rather than on specific steps. 74 00:09:10.590 --> 00:09:13.710 Khyam Allami: Points within that binary. 75 00:09:14.130 --> 00:09:14.490 Khyam Allami: Which I think is really, really fascinating 76 00:09:15.990 --> 00:09:21.600 Khyam Allami: and that's what I absolutely loved about your solo album. 77 00:09:22.320 --> 00:09:41.880 Khyam Allami: And, the same goes for this new project. I think what you're trying to explore, not just in terms of tonality, and not just in terms of texture but in terms of that grey area of tonality, of polyphony 78 00:09:43.080 --> 00:09:49.590 Khyam Allami: of linguistic usage and structure, I think it's really, really stunning. 79 00:09:50.280 --> 00:09:53.370 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Thank you I’m really glad you like it 80 00:09:54.480 --> 00:10:01.560 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I was really happy when you texted me after the release because, obviously, my first release and I didn't know how it was gonna be received, and when I got your message I was like 81 00:10:02.160 --> 00:10:13.830 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yes, thank you, thanks a lot, because now, I know that this is something good and someone who knows about music, who's good at it, if he can tell me that it’s good, then I can be happy about it. 82 00:10:15.870 --> 00:10:21.480 Khyam Allami: Not only that Nakul, I wrote to you with utmost sincerity because 83 00:10:22.890 --> 00:10:23.580 Khyam Allami: I have felt 84 00:10:24.690 --> 00:10:25.890 Khyam Allami: at many times 85 00:10:27.390 --> 00:10:35.400 Khyam Allami: as an outsider in both worlds, both in the Arab world and in Europe or in the West more generally. 86 00:10:35.910 --> 00:10:43.230 Khyam Allami: And I always find myself in this oscillating mode, juggling all these different plates 87 00:10:43.740 --> 00:10:51.150 Khyam Allami: Trying to satisfy your own needs, but somehow also navigating all of these different gazes that come along with it and 88 00:10:51.750 --> 00:11:03.660 Khyam Allami: I always wondered, where are the musicians from Africa who are struggling, the same as me? Where are the musicians from India who are struggling, the same as me? Where are those from China or from Japan or 89 00:11:04.500 --> 00:11:08.310 Khyam Allami: Indonesia, who are struggling, the same as me? And when I come across people who are 90 00:11:09.780 --> 00:11:27.030 Khyam Allami: participating in that friction somehow, I get incredibly excited because I find it inspiring. As a fan of music, it's inspiring for me to hear somebody else's approach to that friction because 91 00:11:28.950 --> 00:11:35.250 Khyam Allami: I think it's much more difficult than people imagine it to be 92 00:11:36.930 --> 00:11:54.990 Khyam Allami: There are so many sub-layers to the musical question which essentially means the experiment of the ideas, that it's hard to find other people who understand the complexity of that Web. 93 00:11:56.010 --> 00:11:59.610 Khyam Allami: And when I heard your record, I felt like, this is a person I can relate to 94 00:12:00.900 --> 00:12:15.360 Khyam Allami: This music makes me feel something that I searched for in my own music, and, this is something that has me excited to think about the future, where things can go, how far can we push it? 95 00:12:16.380 --> 00:12:27.360 Nakul Krishnamurthy: You said that really well. Sometimes, this complexity, is something that doesn't really come across easily. It gets categorized 96 00:12:27.870 --> 00:12:39.000 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is easily classified as something that can be understood. You know it is not just the music, for me, it is about locating myself. I'm sure you have gone through the same tension 97 00:12:40.110 --> 00:12:46.830 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I feel like an outsider to India and I'm an outsider here too. So where am I? I don't belong anywhere. 98 00:12:47.220 --> 00:12:57.690 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So reflecting on my music and trying to make it work on the one hand I'm trying to make it belong to both places, because that is what I am trying to do with myself as a person, but at the same time 99 00:12:58.170 --> 00:13:03.420 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I do not belong there, so my music reflects the fact that it doesn't belong to either of these places also. 100 00:13:03.780 --> 00:13:13.260 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And all these complexities that you mentioned, it feels as if a lot of these complexities are simply lost because people do not understand the context. 101 00:13:13.830 --> 00:13:28.470 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Any of the experimental aspects that i'm doing with carnatic music is totally lost on an audience here 102 00:13:29.640 --> 00:13:32.670 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And any of the things that i'm doing here is totally lost on the audience in India. 103 00:13:33.090 --> 00:13:33.750 Khyam Allami: Yes 104 00:13:33.960 --> 00:13:37.860 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That’s a very simplified version of the problem 105 00:13:38.250 --> 00:13:39.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: but yeah... 106 00:13:40.080 --> 00:13:43.860 Khyam Allami: Do you find that it affects your 107 00:13:45.540 --> 00:13:51.300 Khyam Allami: Let's just call it your compositional process, or your creative process? 108 00:13:51.690 --> 00:14:12.750 Khyam Allami: Do you feel that somehow there is something in your subconscious that's monitoring what you do? I don't mean self censorship or control but, do you feel that? or are you able to really let go and do whatever you want, and then analyze later? 109 00:14:13.800 --> 00:14:19.380 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think a lot before I make things. 110 00:14:19.860 --> 00:14:23.400 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So for me, a process of making a composition 111 00:14:24.450 --> 00:14:28.050 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Isn’t just making music. The first idea that comes is not something that I'm satisfied with 112 00:14:28.530 --> 00:14:38.880 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I believe that an idea has to be worked on over and over 113 00:14:39.150 --> 00:14:45.960 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It has to be polished so much, to make it something that is good enough or something that is interesting enough. 114 00:14:46.290 --> 00:14:48.510 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So the first idea that comes in my head 115 00:14:48.630 --> 00:14:52.770 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Is always a very simple idea, it needs more work. 116 00:14:53.130 --> 00:15:02.070 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So throughout this process of thinking and developing this concept, or even if the structure of the whole piece, or what kind of voices I'm using, what layers am I going to use 117 00:15:02.460 --> 00:15:13.980 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And how am I going to organize them, is a product of a lot of thinking and then I try them out a lot before even going to the computer. 118 00:15:14.670 --> 00:15:24.120 Nakul Krishnamurthy: This iterative process, where it goes on, again and again. So for me, making a piece is a pretty long process, it takes me one and a half, two months to make one piece of music. 119 00:15:24.690 --> 00:15:34.950 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And I just do that, nothing else, I don't take any deviations anywhere. It’s just, start with an idea and develop it and develop it. In that process, this constant questioning that happens 120 00:15:36.360 --> 00:15:43.560 Nakul Krishnamurthy: What is happening here? Is it something interesting? and when you start again with an idea, for more than a month, it becomes an interesting process 121 00:15:44.310 --> 00:15:57.810 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So that problem is always there, but I guess, to answer your question, there is this constant worry that happens, because 122 00:15:59.310 --> 00:16:08.580 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I don’t know if the idea can communicate what I’m trying to do, because of the lack of an understanding of the position that I come from, or what i'm trying to do with it. 123 00:16:09.120 --> 00:16:18.810 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And sometimes it leads to me trying to make it a bit more obvious, even if it's in the mix, if there are parts where I am trying to use my voice and 124 00:16:19.350 --> 00:16:24.150 Nakul Krishnamurthy: If it is not heard as a voice, then it is very important that it has to be understood as a voice. 125 00:16:24.510 --> 00:16:36.570 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Should I make it a bit more obvious in the mix? or should I just keep hidden behind and just let it be part of the texture? But in the end 126 00:16:37.890 --> 00:16:46.200 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I should just do it the way I want it, not how I want the audience to hear it. That questioning is always there, it doesn't go away. 127 00:16:47.250 --> 00:16:50.670 Khyam Allami: Yeah... I feel you. 128 00:16:52.170 --> 00:17:01.110 Khyam Allami: It sounds to me like what you first mentioned with regards to the 129 00:17:02.640 --> 00:17:16.950 Khyam Allami: Problem of a note being fixed, and this notion of, let's just call it modulation for want of a better word, is in a way, also self reflective within your own 130 00:17:17.940 --> 00:17:32.190 Khyam Allami: Personal process. It's like you are modulating in the same way. Maybe you feel like something wants to fix you into a specific place 131 00:17:33.270 --> 00:17:37.380 Khyam Allami: but you don't want to be fixed, you want to have the freedom to modulate 132 00:17:38.700 --> 00:17:45.270 Khyam Allami: In the same way that you want the note to have the freedom to modulate, and therefore make sense within its own context 133 00:17:46.170 --> 00:17:48.870 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Wonderful, thank you, yes 134 00:17:48.900 --> 00:17:50.130 Nakul Krishnamurthy: that is a very good way of putting it. 135 00:17:51.510 --> 00:17:52.500 Khyam Allami: I talked about this as a kind of fret analysis 136 00:17:53.490 --> 00:18:08.460 Khyam Allami: which for me makes sense because I come from a stringed instrument and I'm thinking about the oud, but for you, with the voice, it's even less restrictive. 137 00:18:10.080 --> 00:18:11.520 Khyam Allami: Especially when thinking about gamaka, meend and the these nuances of the singing style all over India 138 00:18:12.690 --> 00:18:29.940 Khyam Allami: not only carnatic music or hindustani music, but also across all the rural landscapes 139 00:18:32.130 --> 00:18:34.890 Khyam Allami: I guess it's interesting for me to ask you 140 00:18:36.600 --> 00:18:38.790 Khyam Allami: What do you imagine? 141 00:18:40.200 --> 00:18:41.640 Khyam Allami: What am I trying to say? 142 00:18:45.540 --> 00:18:51.450 Khyam Allami: Do you think that if you?... 143 00:18:53.730 --> 00:18:56.220 Khyam Allami: Forget that, let's do a little thought experiment. 144 00:18:56.430 --> 00:19:14.160 Khyam Allami: Imagine there are 100 people like me, who have an intimate understanding of these problems and experiences and can somehow relate to them. And as a community 145 00:19:15.180 --> 00:19:18.450 Khyam Allami: We invite you to create a new work and to present it to us 146 00:19:20.040 --> 00:19:21.990 Khyam Allami: What would you imagine? 147 00:19:23.070 --> 00:19:34.980 Khyam Allami: If you were to allow yourself the space to daydream and have this thought experiment, where would that take you? 148 00:19:37.380 --> 00:19:41.760 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I guess the fundamental difference for me, would be a sense of freedom. 149 00:19:42.780 --> 00:19:50.340 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because I wouldn't have to explain anything, I can just have the freedom to do it. 150 00:19:50.880 --> 00:20:00.750 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So i'm not worried about whether something is gonna come across in my music because i'm sure that people will get it, so again, I think it liberates me in a certain way. 151 00:20:02.910 --> 00:20:10.380 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That is the first emotion that comes to me, more than anything else. I don't know what kind of music I'd make, but I know that that music will be so much more free. 152 00:20:11.370 --> 00:20:14.130 Khyam Allami: And musically do you think that would 153 00:20:16.350 --> 00:20:27.510 Khyam Allami: Push you towards doing something hyper-experimental? or do you think that you would choose to do something actually very minimalist and simple? 154 00:20:30.030 --> 00:20:34.080 Khyam Allami: or somewhere along that line? 155 00:20:34.830 --> 00:20:35.880 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think 156 00:20:38.130 --> 00:20:45.120 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I don't know, are super-experimental and minimalist opposites? 157 00:20:46.080 --> 00:20:56.010 Khyam Allami: Not necessarily. I mean I was just trying to think about things in terms of complexity. You might say, if I had that kind of opportunity and that kind of audience 158 00:20:56.640 --> 00:21:06.180 Khyam Allami: I would do something with 10 voices, I would compose something for 10 different people singing, or me singing 10 different things, with lots of complex electronics 159 00:21:06.960 --> 00:21:14.970 Khyam Allami: or maybe you would say, I would just do a solo voice thing, where I would just sing one note for five minutes. 160 00:21:15.420 --> 00:21:21.810 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yeah I get it, I think the fact that I could explore all this, is the difference. 161 00:21:23.640 --> 00:21:35.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I might do any of them. Just my voice, singing with the shruti box and doing an experimental carnatic thing. That is something I would try there, but I wouldn't try now. 162 00:21:36.390 --> 00:21:51.360 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because it doesn't make sense if I do something like that only in my head. I think I would be more confident about doing it in that kind of situation 163 00:21:51.420 --> 00:21:52.050 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Than I am now 164-171 CUT 172 00:22:54.870 --> 00:22:57.960 Khyam Allami: Thinking about this idea 173 00:23:00.240 --> 00:23:04.440 Khyam Allami: Of having a sincere and true creative freedom 174 00:23:05.760 --> 00:23:07.110 Khyam Allami: Freedom to explore 175 00:23:08.640 --> 00:23:16.260 Khyam Allami: Whatever comes to your mind. 176 00:23:17.640 --> 00:23:25.770 Khyam Allami: And to know that the audience you might be addressing is sensitive to the foundational ideas and to the complexities... 177 00:23:29.250 --> 00:23:30.510 Khyam Allami: what's my question? 178 00:23:31.740 --> 00:23:33.180 Khyam Allami: My question is. 179 00:23:37.770 --> 00:23:39.060 Khyam Allami: Do you think... 180 00:23:44.160 --> 00:23:47.040 Khyam Allami: What am I trying to say... 181 00:23:48.990 --> 00:23:52.890 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Actually something just popped into my mind 182 00:23:52.890 --> 00:23:53.580 Khyam Allami: Please go ahead 183 00:23:53.640 --> 00:23:54.240 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Ok. 184 00:23:54.630 --> 00:23:55.830 Khyam Allami: Please go ahead 185 00:23:56.370 --> 00:24:09.900 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think one aspect of this kind of freedom that maybe doesn't get talked about much, is one of a temporal freedom 186 00:24:11.760 --> 00:24:20.670 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because for me, there is some kind of a time mismatch that I feel in terms of duration 187 00:24:21.780 --> 00:24:27.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Sometimes I want to let a certain idea go on for a much longer time 188 00:24:28.020 --> 00:24:35.100 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because in a carnatic performance, a concert goes on for sometimes three hours or four hours... 189 00:24:35.580 --> 00:24:45.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is kind of a convention and a performance practice. Some ideas can take a long time 190 00:24:45.840 --> 00:24:55.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: You can elaborate on one note for such a long time, and you don't have to worry about whether it's time to change to something else or not. 191 00:24:55.680 --> 00:25:07.380 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But the moment I started making music in this kind of [European] domain, I actually did not understand the temporal dynamic of it. 192 00:25:07.740 --> 00:25:08.460 Khyam Allami: For sure 193 00:25:08.640 --> 00:25:16.470 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I still don't know. This is something I'm struggling with. How far should a section go or how far can I keep exploring an idea. 194 00:25:16.890 --> 00:25:33.360 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Should I change over now or not? but, obviously there's no right answer. But the fact that this question exists, shows that there is a mismatch in terms of how you see the duration, or the temporality of a piece right. 195 00:25:33.990 --> 00:25:35.010 Khyam Allami: Yes, absolutely. 196 00:25:35.880 --> 00:25:36.180 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I don't know. 197 00:25:36.600 --> 00:25:48.960 Khyam Allami: What I find fascinating about this discussion, and these ideas, is how much we feel somehow constrained. 198 00:25:49.650 --> 00:26:04.260 Khyam Allami: Whether it be by temporality, or by the musical material that we should use. I think a lot about avant garde composers and musician from Europe and America 199 00:26:05.520 --> 00:26:26.160 Khyam Allami: Who have created incredible works because of the sense of freedom that they have felt, to be able to explore those avenues, regardless of whether there are audiences that would accept those ideas or not. And I wonder why we don't feel that same sense of freedom. 200 00:26:27.360 --> 00:26:32.010 Khyam Allami: My first impression is that there are some remnants in our subconscious that are tied to, essentially, a political struggle. 201 00:26:33.030 --> 00:26:54.750 Khyam Allami: Whether it be a local struggle, like in your case when you were talking earlier about the caste systems, privilege and opportunity 202 00:26:56.100 --> 00:27:10.800 Khyam Allami: Or whether it be in the context of a colonial power struggle 203 00:27:12.480 --> 00:27:17.760 Khyam Allami: Or the remnants of a colonial power struggle that still exists today. 204 00:27:19.980 --> 00:27:23.880 Khyam Allami: I think many people find it difficult to appreciate the way that those ideas have 205 00:27:25.200 --> 00:27:30.450 Khyam Allami: Become embedded within our subconscious. 206 00:27:32.820 --> 00:27:44.070 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I don't know. There are a lot of ways in which you can talk about this whole East/West power dynamic. For me 207 00:27:44.820 --> 00:27:53.400 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Having grown up in a village in India, and how Europe has always been this mythical place and how 208 00:27:54.090 --> 00:28:04.080 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The people of this place are supposed to be so ahead of the rest of the world. 209 00:28:04.530 --> 00:28:12.120 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That always plays upon your subconscious. There is always this nagging feeling somewhere, which you cannot really unpack, and you cannot really decode 210 00:28:12.570 --> 00:28:21.960 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But there is something there, which always keeps you conscious of yourself, always being aware of yourself. 211 00:28:22.530 --> 00:28:38.670 Nakul Krishnamurthy: There is something that you cannot totally let go of. It just holds you back, and I do not know what it is, but I can see it happening, I can see it manifesting in a lot of ways. For example 212 00:28:39.690 --> 00:28:48.330 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When we were preparing to do the podcast for this project, they asked me where I am most comfortable recording, and my first instinct was, home 213 00:28:49.020 --> 00:28:59.040 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because I'm more comfortable at home than going outside. For me this being outside itself makes me a bit more aware of myself and conscious of myself 214 00:28:59.820 --> 00:29:03.750 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Even small things like eating out or eating at home... eating at home definitely. 215 00:29:04.110 --> 00:29:08.220 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Or the choice between doing a performance or recording and sending music 216 00:29:08.760 --> 00:29:20.490 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I would obviously send the music rather than perform. So there are a lot of different ways, I don't know why but it's always there, even though I have been here for three years now 217 00:29:20.880 --> 00:29:29.670 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is still not enough time for me to feel totally free and “at home”. 218 00:29:29.760 --> 00:29:37.020 Khyam Allami: And do you feel that freedom when you're in India? Sorry, I can't remember which city you grew up in, or which city you lived in. 219 00:29:37.200 --> 00:29:42.840 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I grew up in a small village in the south of India, in Kerala. 220 00:29:43.980 --> 00:29:46.650 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It was a small village 221 00:29:47.340 --> 00:29:48.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Now it's a town. 222 00:29:48.840 --> 00:29:52.170 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And then I moved to Chennai. 223 00:29:54.780 --> 00:29:55.620 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When I was 16 224 00:29:56.640 --> 00:30:03.750 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But that was only because I was in boarding school. I guess I got a full exposure when I was 22. 225 00:30:04.230 --> 00:30:07.350 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And only then I started realizing that there is some world outside of that small village. 226 00:30:07.440 --> 00:30:14.130 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But coming here from Chennai, I suddenly realized that there is a world outside of Chennai too 227 00:30:15.870 --> 00:30:16.320 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So... 228 00:30:17.730 --> 00:30:22.350 Khyam Allami: Do you feel that freedom that you're talking about in Chennai, for example? 229 00:30:22.950 --> 00:30:23.610 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yes, I do. 230 00:30:24.750 --> 00:30:29.490 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I would be more ready to go out there than here, even if the weather is more extreme. 231 00:30:31.890 --> 00:30:34.890 Khyam Allami: And what about what about creation? 232 00:30:35.100 --> 00:30:46.170 Khyam Allami: If you had the opportunity to execute some of these new ideas in Chennai rather than in Glasgow or anywhere else do you think that the results would be different? 233 00:30:46.710 --> 00:30:59.220 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That is a very, very interesting question because it goes both ways. On the one hand, I have more freedom to experiment here, but at the same time, I am less free in the act of experimenting itself. 234 00:31:00.540 --> 00:31:07.290 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I know that back in India, there is not a lot of scope for my music. 235 00:31:07.770 --> 00:31:13.920 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I might just play it, and no one will bother to listen to it. So I won't have an audience 236 00:31:14.130 --> 00:31:23.550 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And for me, an audience for my music is very important. I'm not a person who will just make music for my own sake and keep it on my computer. That's something that doesn't really resonate with me. 237 00:31:24.930 --> 00:31:33.450 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Back in Chennai, there is a lack of freedom, but at the same time, this act of experimenting itself, in creating a piece of music includes many other factors that start coming in 238 00:31:33.810 --> 00:31:42.630 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And in that context, I think I am free. So I am both more and less free, at the same time, here and there. 239 00:31:43.110 --> 00:31:44.250 Khyam Allami: Yes 240 00:31:45.870 --> 00:31:47.850 Khyam Allami: I think about this a lot because. 241 00:31:49.980 --> 00:31:54.360 Khyam Allami: I've worked on a bunch of different projects that were created. 242 00:31:55.650 --> 00:32:07.860 Khyam Allami: In the Arab world, in Cairo, Tunisia, Beirut, and then project projects that are created outside, whether it be in Scandinavia or in Germany or in the UK and. 243 00:32:09.150 --> 00:32:09.600 Khyam Allami: Being somebody that has grown up with a kind of nomadic lifestyle 244 00:32:11.550 --> 00:32:22.830 Khyam Allami: And having spent many years bouncing between different places and living out of a suitcase. 245 00:32:23.520 --> 00:32:32.340 Khyam Allami: There's a part of me that allows me to create my own little world wherever I am and somehow tap into that. 246 00:32:33.090 --> 00:32:51.450 Khyam Allami: But the influence on my subconscious, of the subtlety of sounds and ideas and smells and arguments in the street and things that you feel when you're in a place, does have an impact. 247 00:32:52.530 --> 00:32:59.190 Khyam Allami: On the way that I perceive myself, on the way I perceive my ideas 248 00:33:00.510 --> 00:33:01.260 Khyam Allami: And sometimes I think about 249 00:33:02.340 --> 00:33:17.760 Khyam Allami: Maybe trying to find time to create something in a space or in a place that somehow fuels these desires, but then to take it from there and 250 00:33:18.510 --> 00:33:28.650 Khyam Allami: Present it somewhere else, in a different environment, but then we come back to this tension, this push and pull that is happening all the time. 251 00:33:30.540 --> 00:33:36.810 Khyam Allami: It's one of those situations where I think neither you nor I have. 252 00:33:37.890 --> 00:33:39.960 Khyam Allami: Any clear guidelines about how to 253 00:33:41.730 --> 00:33:43.770 Khyam Allami: How to navigate it 254 00:33:44.340 --> 00:33:52.590 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That's so true. Sometimes, when I'm making a piece of music and I'm thinking about whether this works or whether this is good 255 00:33:53.040 --> 00:34:01.320 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I just want to find the person who I can compare my work with 256 00:34:01.560 --> 00:34:12.540 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And have this all round kind of feedback from them, because they understand the whole politics and the whole context. But I have to send it to different boxes and see how they react to each of these. 257 00:34:12.990 --> 00:34:13.200 Nakul Krishnamurthy: On the one hand, it is good 258 00:34:14.490 --> 00:34:26.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because it gives me the confidence that I'm trying something new, irrespective of how it comes out, at least I'm attempting something that is not done. 259 00:34:27.960 --> 00:34:36.840 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But at the same time, the lack of this guidance makes it so difficult for you to even generate anything new. 260 00:34:37.440 --> 00:34:43.860 Khyam Allami: Do you find it difficult, that there isn't 261 00:34:45.420 --> 00:34:45.990 Khyam Allami: Let's say 262 00:34:48.810 --> 00:34:57.300 Khyam Allami: A previously trodden path that you can go down and 263 00:34:58.410 --> 00:35:08.010 Khyam Allami: Hear what other people have done in order to develop ideas 264 00:35:08.610 --> 00:35:11.760 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I always think about it, but I find it both good and bad at the same time 265 00:35:12.840 --> 00:35:30.360 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is good because I see this huge possibility and there is a lot that can be done 266 00:35:31.290 --> 00:35:31.860 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And it is also very curious that not a lot of people have done it. 267 00:35:32.610 --> 00:35:38.610 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That always makes you doubt, but at the same time, you can also, see that possibility. 268 00:35:39.120 --> 00:35:45.030 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I know that there is a lot that can be done, irrespective of whether I can do it or not, 269 00:35:45.630 --> 00:35:50.610 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But if there was someone, even if there was just one or two people who were there 270 00:35:51.180 --> 00:35:56.850 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I would have been able to connect with them and think about how else I can explore 271 00:35:57.840 --> 00:36:04.050 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Someone to show you the way or at least let you know of the possibilities. 272 00:36:05.040 --> 00:36:16.740 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I would have liked to have someone like that, but at the same time not having someone like that is also interesting, because it feels like there are these possibilities that I can explore, and I have to just try and do it. 273 00:36:16.770 --> 00:36:17.790 Khyam Allami: When I think about your experiment 274 00:36:18.060 --> 00:36:32.190 Khyam Allami: Or experimentalism within the Arabic music context there really aren't many references, they're just two or three artists 275 00:36:33.720 --> 00:36:38.910 Khyam Allami: Then there's two or three also from Iran, for example, which I find very, very inspiring but 276 00:36:40.080 --> 00:37:02.490 Khyam Allami: I I always end up falling back to looking at Western experimentalism for ideas and nuances. Then I also end up falling into the trap of being pastiche in some way, in trying to recreate some of those ideas and then trying to unpack all of that and find something more 277 00:37:03.990 --> 00:37:04.770 Khyam Allami: Individual. 278 00:37:06.630 --> 00:37:14.220 Khyam Allami: For me, it’s the greatest challenge, because there's obviously a 279 00:37:15.240 --> 00:37:28.440 Khyam Allami: very rich history of experimentalism that has come out of Europe and the US, which is incredibly powerful and incredibly liberating. But at the same time there are so many elements of it that feel somehow. 280 00:37:29.730 --> 00:37:38.190 Khyam Allami: distant and a bit difficult to engage with, and so when you look the other way to your own culture and you try to find those things and they're not really there 281 00:37:38.550 --> 00:37:57.120 Khyam Allami: You end up in this weird space of half pastiche/half new and struggling. Have you experienced anything similar? Do you find yourself leaning towards one - let's call it an archive for lack of a better word? One history, more than another history. 282 00:37:57.780 --> 00:38:00.450 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think, yes 283 00:38:01.680 --> 00:38:05.010 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That’s something that I have experienced quite a lot 284 00:38:06.030 --> 00:38:19.800 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It took me quite some time to figure out a synthesis of the kind of influences that I have had, and the kind of knowledge that I've acquired by learning different kinds of music, if you can call it that. 285 00:38:21.150 --> 00:38:33.180 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So for me until like around two to three years back, they were like different bubbles, which did not intersect at all, and I did not know how to put them together or how to look at one through the other. 286 00:38:33.570 --> 00:38:33.900 Khyam Allami: Right 287 00:38:34.170 --> 00:38:41.970 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When I was doing my undergrad in Western classical composition, I would turn off my carnatic brain or hindustani brain altogether 288 00:38:42.240 --> 00:38:50.250 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And it was all about pastiche. I was just making music that was supposed to be interesting according to how the history defined it to be interesting. 289 00:38:50.790 --> 00:39:01.800 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For me that was a space where I made a lot of music, but none of it was really satisfying because I was again doing a pastiche of others 290 00:39:02.340 --> 00:39:10.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And then I came to Counterflows festival in 2017, and then I moved to the UK and suddenly I saw this 291 00:39:10.530 --> 00:39:20.730 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Experimental music field and actually what happens in the underground music, and it got me thinking 292 00:39:21.570 --> 00:39:31.110 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I cannot obviously just make music like this. That's not what I want to do, how can I bring my expertise or whatever I know of Indian classical music. 293 00:39:31.410 --> 00:39:38.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And think about that music in the same way that experimental music has done to western philosophy 294 00:39:38.280 --> 00:39:50.910 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So what I think my current solution for this is, or what i'm doing right now, is that I borrow the thought process 295 00:39:51.570 --> 00:40:03.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Of how you think about experimenting. What does it mean to experiment with music? and then use that lens on carnatic music 296 00:40:03.540 --> 00:40:13.740 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Or Indian classical music. So that kind of got me out of this problem of trying to make. 297 00:40:14.460 --> 00:40:22.050 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Western experimental music and to focus on making experimental carnatic music. Where does experimental become the adjective? 298 00:40:22.410 --> 00:40:29.910 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The frame through which I look at it comes from the West, but what I'm applying it to is carnatic music 299 00:40:30.450 --> 00:40:40.500 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For me, certainly it gave me the sound that I myself did not realize could come out of me. And that was like, yeah this probably is good, I don't know, I should make a couple of people listen to this. 300 00:40:41.580 --> 00:40:46.290 Khyam Allami: That must be very powerful because you're a singer, so it's literally coming out of you! 301 00:40:50.160 --> 00:40:53.190 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yeah it's true but, for me, I think 302 00:40:54.510 --> 00:41:03.090 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The kind of a connection that I have with my voice is probably the same kind of connection that you have with your instrument. For you, the instrument is an extension of your body. 303 00:41:04.410 --> 00:41:05.850 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Right? 304 00:41:06.870 --> 00:41:07.860 Khyam Allami: I think this it's never quite the same thing 305 00:41:08.130 --> 00:41:18.750 Khyam Allami: When you are able to actually express something with your own body 306 00:41:19.080 --> 00:41:20.550 Khyam Allami: Then there's a connectedness that I think will always be missing from playing an instrument. 307 00:41:21.480 --> 00:41:37.020 Khyam Allami: I don't know, that's just how I feel about it 308 00:41:37.050 --> 00:41:38.370 Khyam Allami: And I was unfortunately never gifted with a nice voice and I never really explored it. 309 00:41:38.370 --> 00:41:39.210 Khyam Allami: But... 310 00:41:40.080 --> 00:41:40.350 Khyam Allami: Just, to go back to this idea of 311 00:41:44.820 --> 00:41:45.180 Khyam Allami: Of the different lenses you were mentioning earlier 312 00:41:45.300 --> 00:41:47.220 Khyam Allami: Do you ever find yourself worrying about how you use those lenses? 313 00:41:51.000 --> 00:41:51.990 Khyam Allami: and how your usage might be interpreted? 314 00:41:53.220 --> 00:41:55.830 Khyam Allami: Like these little devils above your shoulder there are always somehow questioning your idea? 315 00:41:57.150 --> 00:42:07.710 Khyam Allami: Or are you able to find an angle, looking through a specific lens at something 316 00:42:08.280 --> 00:42:23.670 Khyam Allami: And then let yourself be free within it? 317 00:42:26.160 --> 00:42:42.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: This is very, very pertinent to one specific lens that I use, if I can say that, it's obviously that none of them are isolated. That is one way of thinking I'm always doubtful about, and that comes from my history of working in Indian popular music. 318 00:42:43.170 --> 00:42:45.780 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I worked in the Indian film industry for quite a while. 319 00:42:46.260 --> 00:42:55.200 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And that is something that I wanted to do because I did not know of the other possibilities. So for me Indian film music was the way to be a musician, there was nothing else. 320 00:42:55.530 --> 00:42:57.660 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Until probably like three years, four years back. 321 00:42:58.170 --> 00:43:09.690 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I was totally invested in wanting to be an Indian film music composer, but at the same time, to become a composer was hard. It was easier to make it as a singer and then become a composer. 322 00:43:10.230 --> 00:43:26.250 Nakul Krishnamurthy: There were certain ways of singing, ways of performing, and ways of composing that I learned and that I tried to master when I was doing this popular music. Some of those things that I learned, I find them interesting in a very specific way 323 00:43:26.280 --> 00:43:42.750 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But the fact that it is popular music and there is this elitism that is associated with class 324 00:43:42.780 --> 00:43:44.220 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That there is something about popular music that is supposed to be looked down upon 325 00:43:44.550 --> 00:43:52.950 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It was also very present in me. I'm not saying that I never looked down on popular music, I did, but still I loved popular music 326 00:43:53.580 --> 00:44:01.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: In my brain I was like, no, that is something that is below everything, but in my heart, I was like oh I love this song and I love this song 327 00:44:03.060 --> 00:44:10.560 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That conflict is there, and it took some time for me to realize that it is totally fine to love that music 328 00:44:10.800 --> 00:44:20.340 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And for me to change the thing in my brain that it's okay for me to love that kind of music. Those lenses sometimes start creeping into my music and 329 00:44:21.150 --> 00:44:31.890 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I like that. One thing that I really liked about this new Counterflows project was that I wanted the singing to be in the front, because there's a lot of politics in the text. 330 00:44:32.460 --> 00:44:36.210 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So, I had to think, how do I capture my voice here? What kind of an aesthetic do I want my voice to have? 331 00:44:36.270 --> 00:44:48.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I wanted it to be very emotive and emote a certain way that I felt as a person who's struggling with these tensions 332 00:44:48.900 --> 00:44:58.290 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Trying to look at myself and to capture the emotion of the text itself and communicate that for the dancer to perform. 333 00:44:58.620 --> 00:45:12.600 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So for me, there was some kind of an intersection there. But what interested me the most was that in order to capture this, I started using the recording techniques and how I used to sing and to capture my voice when I was doing popular music. 334 00:45:13.170 --> 00:45:13.380 Khyam Allami: The voice in the front. But the aesthetic of that voice comes from that space 335 00:45:13.680 --> 00:45:25.260 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So I didn't know whether I should be using it or not, because. 336 00:45:26.310 --> 00:45:39.090 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I wanted to, but I didn't know whether I should. In the end, I ended up doing it. So yeah there is always that problem, but I decided I'm just gonna do it. 337 00:45:40.410 --> 00:45:44.250 Khyam Allami: Sorry, one second. 338 00:47:02.700 --> 00:47:03.030 Khyam Allami: ... 339 00:47:04.830 --> 00:47:05.340 Khyam Allami: Delivery. 340 00:47:13.050 --> 00:47:16.050 Khyam Allami: There's a part of me that wants to ask you about 341 00:47:18.600 --> 00:47:22.440 Khyam Allami: What your processes are for navigating 342 00:47:24.360 --> 00:47:28.590 Khyam Allami: All of these questions 343 00:47:30.150 --> 00:47:30.810 Khyam Allami: But 344 00:47:32.310 --> 00:47:41.970 Khyam Allami: It sounds to me like it's an ongoing process, so I don't want to get into a conversation where you feel like you need to define 345 00:47:42.480 --> 00:47:56.610 Khyam Allami: One methodology that you use to navigate this and find your way in or out of a process, but you mentioned positionality in a couple of different ways multiple times 346 00:47:58.470 --> 00:48:02.460 Khyam Allami: And I find that to be interesting. 347 00:48:03.480 --> 00:48:26.850 Khyam Allami: I think about many questions. Who am I making this music for? What relevance does it have to my current context? Would my friends like it? Is it something that I want or am I doing it for the sake of filling a gap that I found somewhere? 348 00:48:28.440 --> 00:48:30.780 Khyam Allami: And After a creative process of some kind, 349 00:48:32.010 --> 00:48:38.250 Khyam Allami: I try to analyze and see if 350 00:48:39.780 --> 00:48:40.710 Khyam Allami: Somehow, I have self-restrained 351 00:48:42.780 --> 00:48:52.710 Khyam Allami: Or taken a specific path because of a certain idea, as opposed to just letting it be whatever it wants to be. 352 00:48:53.970 --> 00:48:54.540 Khyam Allami: And that sometimes makes me doubt whether a compositional idea is worth exploring or not 353 00:48:55.560 --> 00:49:06.630 Khyam Allami: So I wanted to ask you. 354 00:49:08.850 --> 00:49:17.640 Khyam Allami: Can we turn to talking absolutely about music, and about the musicological ideas themselves? 355 00:49:18.390 --> 00:49:31.800 Khyam Allami: Do you feel any specific musical impact of these questions? Are there any musical, compositional, choices that you've made that are either in reaction to some of these ideas of positionality? 356 00:49:33.750 --> 00:49:39.750 Khyam Allami: Or things that have come through that questioning? Actual musical ideas. 357 00:49:43.620 --> 00:49:43.980 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Hmm 358 00:49:47.370 --> 00:49:47.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think I definitely have. I'm trying to think of them. 359 00:49:48.960 --> 00:50:00.060 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Most of my music making depends on a lot of decisions that I make 360 00:50:00.840 --> 00:50:11.700 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Before I actually execute them. A lot of these decisions have been influenced by certain constraints and a specific way of thinking 361 00:50:14.070 --> 00:50:15.870 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But I don't know 362 00:50:18.690 --> 00:50:21.030 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think it comes from this fact that 363 00:50:22.080 --> 00:50:34.050 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I've always found it a very romantic notion, to be able to think about your music as something that can exist by itself, without having any external influences. But I don't think that is the case for me 364 00:50:35.190 --> 00:50:45.630 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For me, it is an idea. There's a lot of other external influences that come in - musical and non musical 365 00:50:47.430 --> 00:50:53.790 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For instance, this Counterflows piece 366 00:50:55.530 --> 00:51:05.790 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When I was thinking about the politics of it, there was a certain way in which I envisioned the piece in my head. I thought I was doing justice to the kind of politics that I was trying to address and 367 00:51:06.390 --> 00:51:20.040 Nakul Krishnamurthy: One day, after making the piece, I realized that it was going to be presented at Counterflows festival, and it is gonna be listened to by a predominantly European audience. 368 00:51:21.810 --> 00:51:30.030 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Definitely not a lot of Indian audience. So did I even consider who is going to listen to this music? 369 00:51:30.480 --> 00:51:38.310 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And suddenly, I started doubting my own decisions. I was like, this is one important question that I should have considered while creating. 370 00:51:39.090 --> 00:51:48.000 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Somehow it slipped my mind, because I was working with so many other political issues, and I was collaborating with other artists and thinking about this politics through my music. 371 00:51:48.360 --> 00:51:51.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But suddenly I realized that this is a question that i've always thought about 372 00:51:51.570 --> 00:51:59.010 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Although I forgot to think about when I made this music 373 00:51:59.070 --> 00:51:59.460 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But... 374 00:51:59.940 --> 00:52:06.570 Nakul Krishnamurthy: As for specific compositional decisions, I think the duration is obviously one of them 375 00:52:07.020 --> 00:52:09.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And that is something that i'm always concerned about 376 00:52:10.260 --> 00:52:24.240 Nakul Krishnamurthy: My wife has been very supportive and she is one person who gives me very good critical advice. Sometimes I just ask her to sit and listen and see if it is going on for too long. 377 00:52:24.780 --> 00:52:38.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And she gives me very good feedback about it. That has really helped me edit my piece and give it a nice shape. But duration is a question that always comes to mind. Probably the first thing that comes to mind 378 00:52:38.190 --> 00:52:44.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think about the domain in which I'm presenting and how I should think about it. 379 00:52:45.360 --> 00:52:45.960 Khyam Allami: So let's talk music in a little bit more detail 380 00:52:46.170 --> 00:52:52.770 Khyam Allami: Specifically about this new composition. 381 00:52:53.790 --> 00:53:00.540 Khyam Allami: I think you very eloquently discuss the political background and ideas within this project in the podcast 382 00:53:03.120 --> 00:53:16.050 Khyam Allami: So I want to avoid covering the same issues that you talked about there, but I wanted to ask 383 00:53:18.090 --> 00:53:28.500 Khyam Allami: What was your musical compositional process that led you to this end result? The use of multiple voices. The exploration of these polyphonies. 384 00:53:28.800 --> 00:53:37.440 Khyam Allami: The dissonance that happens between the different voices, both in the way they modulate and in the way they actually sync 385 00:53:37.860 --> 00:53:39.780 Khyam Allami: At different points 386 00:53:42.120 --> 00:53:44.760 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yes, I think, for me 387 00:53:46.740 --> 00:53:51.150 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The politics in this piece reflects on the music itself 388 00:53:52.620 --> 00:53:58.170 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I saw the politics to be happening in three different domains, one was the domain of the text 389 00:53:58.560 --> 00:54:05.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The other was the domain of the dance, and the third was a domain of the music. Let us focus on the music and the text here. 390 00:54:05.580 --> 00:54:16.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think the text relates a lot of the politics that is reflected in the music 391 00:54:17.430 --> 00:54:20.880 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because of the specific way the text is written or the specific text I’m using. 392 00:54:22.290 --> 00:54:32.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The kind of tool that I use right now, in the release that I did for Cafe OTO and in this piece 393 00:54:34.020 --> 00:54:50.100 Nakul Krishnamurthy: What I like to do right now is to think about an Alap and a Jor. So I would just sit in front of my microphone, turn it on and start singing. I sing for probably around an hour, two hours, three hours 394 00:54:51.360 --> 00:55:07.650 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Sometimes not at once, maybe take a break, come back the next day and sing again. Then I chopped the recordings up into each phrase. In the end, for this composition I probably ended up having around 500 to 600 phrases 395 00:55:08.130 --> 00:55:19.320 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And so those phrases are individual units of meaningful music, my unit is a phrase, not a note. 396 00:55:19.620 --> 00:55:20.910 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Now I have different blocks of phrases 397 00:55:21.210 --> 00:55:35.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So different units of meaningful music. But I don't know how i'm going to put it all together. 398 00:55:36.450 --> 00:55:38.250 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And how they come together is I put them in a generative system 399 00:55:38.280 --> 00:55:48.600 Nakul Krishnamurthy: They all go into an environment 400 00:55:49.080 --> 00:55:56.280 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And I start looking at how they can intersect with each other. What are the different ways in which they can come together. 401 00:55:56.730 --> 00:56:00.840 Nakul Krishnamurthy: One of the main considerations here was the text itself. There was a certain linearity to the text. 402 00:56:01.140 --> 00:56:09.150 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That had to be reflected. But at the same time, how can I support that linearity and think about it in a different way? 403 00:56:09.720 --> 00:56:24.540 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Going from one end of the text to the other, but at the same time, how can something that happens later in the text, intersect with something that happens before? That reflected in the music too. 404 00:56:25.200 --> 00:56:26.460 Nakul Krishnamurthy: One phrase is composed of a word. 405 00:56:26.880 --> 00:56:31.560 Nakul Krishnamurthy: End each phrase is sometimes sung with the same word in 20 or 30 different ways 406 00:56:32.040 --> 00:56:46.920 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And then I move on to the next word. So each of these individual units of meaning are put in a very simple generative system using Ableton Live 407 00:56:47.400 --> 00:56:49.080 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Different lengths of clips. 408 00:56:49.140 --> 00:56:52.230 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And I start triggering them at different points in time and I don't know how they will intersect. 409 00:56:52.500 --> 00:57:01.260 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So I start listening to how they sound and sometimes record them. Sometimes I get an idea and then go and execute it by placing those clips in certain ways to see what comes out of it. 410 00:57:01.800 --> 00:57:17.610 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Some of it is always deciding where the dissonance is. Do I want more layers? Do I want this part to be more rich texturly? or do I want it to be very simple, just one word and one voice coming through? 411 00:57:18.660 --> 00:57:23.520 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Another consideration here was to make the lyrics legible 412 00:57:24.300 --> 00:57:28.440 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It should not be a mess. There is a meaning in the text, and that should be communicated too. 413 00:57:28.830 --> 00:57:34.980 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So it is sometimes about getting that texture and sometimes about stripping back completely so that the word can be heard. 414 00:57:35.250 --> 00:57:39.690 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Then, bringing the whole thing again to hear the textures 415 00:57:40.020 --> 00:57:52.020 Nakul Krishnamurthy: What happens to these textures when the notes are always in motion, rather than having something fixed? What if the whole thing keeps moving all the time? 416 00:57:53.460 --> 00:58:03.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: What happens when you cannot hold on to it? It is always in motion 417 00:58:03.840 --> 00:58:10.980 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is also interesting to not be grounded in one place. That is how I feel at the present 418 00:58:10.980 --> 00:58:12.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Always oscillating and 419 00:58:12.540 --> 00:58:23.730 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Not being able to locate myself in any individual place, as a person, as an individual, that probably comes through in the composition too 420 00:58:24.240 --> 00:58:30.840 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And for me, that movement is what, in the end, makes it interesting. That is what I think I tried to do through this work. 421 00:58:32.250 --> 00:58:42.510 Khyam Allami: What I found most fascinating about it, which I think you touched on really beautifully, is that there is this ever present oscillation. 422 00:58:43.170 --> 00:59:00.510 Khyam Allami: And within it, there are moments where things line up and lock into place, and then they come out again. This is something that's been very much at the forefront of my mind, the idea of going in and out of particular desires 423 00:59:01.800 --> 00:59:13.410 Khyam Allami: Whether that be a particular polyphony, a stack of different notes or going in and out of specific interval structure. 424 00:59:16.290 --> 00:59:26.040 Khyam Allami: What interests me in what you said just now, is that you are using this generative process to develop some ideas and sometimes you'll hear something. 425 00:59:26.460 --> 00:59:43.350 Khyam Allami: That you think felt really good and then you'll want to recreate it by placing those elements, within each other in a certain way. But do you ever get inspired to go back and re-record something new? 426 00:59:44.940 --> 00:59:50.190 Khyam Allami: Because you heard a result of the generative process that made you think about what you were singing in a different way? 427 00:59:50.580 --> 00:59:54.060 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yes, yes, I did that quite a lot with this piece in fact. 428 00:59:55.230 --> 01:00:10.890 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Something that was really interesting came up. Something that I never expected. I knew that I had to go back and record it. This was not just a musical idea, it was an interesting thing that happened with the text. 429 01:00:11.250 --> 01:00:12.720 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Also, there were certain intersections between words which sounded beautiful 430 01:00:13.740 --> 01:00:22.950 Nakul Krishnamurthy: because the words themselves were beautiful 431 01:00:22.980 --> 01:00:23.730 Nakul Krishnamurthy: but at the same time it generated a new meaning that I never thought the text had 432 01:00:24.750 --> 01:00:29.580 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And I was like... Where did that come from? 433 01:00:30.270 --> 01:00:33.900 Khyam Allami: Can you tell us what the words and the meanings were? 434 01:00:34.440 --> 01:00:39.270 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I might have briefly touched upon this in the podcast. 435 01:00:39.600 --> 01:00:42.780 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But, what happened was 436 01:00:43.290 --> 01:00:49.170 Nakul Krishnamurthy: The text is basically three lines, it is a story of a character, who says at the end 437 01:00:50.460 --> 01:01:02.100 Nakul Krishnamurthy: In very beautiful words, that she praises lust and says, am I not better than her? “Her”, in this text refers to the ideal woman according to Indian mythology. 438 01:01:02.550 --> 01:01:06.180 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So what happened was that, when she says, am I not better. 439 01:01:07.950 --> 01:01:22.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I randomly clicked on the wrong word, wrong clip, and it started putting the words for lust and bravery and along with the word for the ideal woman. 440 01:01:22.500 --> 01:01:24.930 Khyam Allami: What are those words? 441 01:01:25.410 --> 01:01:30.840 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Kaamadhura Madhura Komala Vakkinale With lustfully sweet words [Kaamadhura - lust filled; Madhura - Sweet; Komala - Soft, tender; Vakkinale - through/with words] Kaamam Sthuthichu Tharasa Thamuvaacha Dheeram (She) praised lust and boldly spoke thus [Kaamam - lust; Sthuthichu - praised/with praise; Tharasa - powerful, straight, bold; Thamuvaacha - Spoke thus; Dheeram - being bold/bravery] Vallabhayil Adhikam Nallaval Njan Allayo Am I not better than her, the/your ideal woman [Vallabha - ideal woman, the woman with all the qualities, Vallabhayil - than the ideal woman; Adhikam - more; Nallaval - nicer/better woman; Njan - Me; Njan Allayo - Am I not?] 442 01:01:30.900 --> 01:01:31.680 Nakul Krishnamurthy: put it in each but. 443 01:01:32.010 --> 01:01:41.910 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Kaamam basically means lust and Dheeram means bravery as well, Vallabha means wife, and here she is talking about the wife of the protagonist. 444 01:01:42.270 --> 01:01:43.980 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And she is the “ideal woman” 445 01:01:44.100 --> 01:01:51.510 Nakul Krishnamurthy: What happened when I was playing Vallabha, the word for ideal woman, suddenly somehow from somewhere Kaamam came in. 446 01:01:51.900 --> 01:02:01.110 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And it was very very interesting. It made a lot of sense, but I didn't have the right sonic texture, so I went back 447 01:02:01.410 --> 01:02:15.960 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And I recorded Kaamam 20-30 times and came back and started triggering different versions, and suddenly the texture just blew up into something that is beautiful 448 01:02:16.320 --> 01:02:17.760 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And the text also started making so much more sense 449 01:02:18.240 --> 01:02:23.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That was probably the magic that happened for me in this composition 450 01:02:24.990 --> 01:02:36.720 Khyam Allami: That's exciting for me to hear, because I think this is the real potential of generative processes. I don't think generative processes are very good at 451 01:02:37.080 --> 01:02:52.380 Khyam Allami: Creating end results, but I think they're excellent at inspiring end results. I find it really fascinating to hear you talk about it from the textual perspective because 452 01:02:54.150 --> 01:03:12.780 Khyam Allami: There’s obviously so much meaning that is necessary to elucidate in some way, and this brings us back around to our concepts or our questioning earlier about who is your audience? 453 01:03:15.090 --> 01:03:24.360 Khyam Allami: If here in this scenario, you are being so faithful and connected to the text, it means that in your mind, you are considering it for a listener who can understand the text. 454 01:03:25.050 --> 01:03:34.590 Khyam Allami: Obviously I followed along with the lyrics as much as I can, but once things start to become juxtaposed and contradictory 455 01:03:35.130 --> 01:03:46.770 Khyam Allami: Like you're suggesting here, it would be quite difficult for me to catch that meaning, without having to do a lot of stop/start and analysis 456 01:03:47.910 --> 01:03:49.950 Khyam Allami: So it's exciting for me to hear you elucidate that in detail 457 01:03:50.670 --> 01:03:59.400 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That is what is frustrating, because there's so much beauty that is being lost, just because you can translate or you can communicate, you don't know the language 458 01:03:59.820 --> 01:04:00.660 Khyam Allami: Yeah. 459 01:04:00.840 --> 01:04:06.570 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think this is something that happens quite a lot when I present my music back in India 460 01:04:06.870 --> 01:04:13.140 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Maybe if there is something beautiful, it is lost because they do not understand the experimental tradition that it comes from 461 01:04:13.680 --> 01:04:19.530 Nakul Krishnamurthy: This work definitely draws a lot from the Western experimental tradition and is indebted to it 462 01:04:19.950 --> 01:04:35.760 Nakul Krishnamurthy: but the fact that these lenses are not accessible to people back there makes this whole beauty, if it exists in the piece, inaccessible for the people. 463 01:04:38.100 --> 01:04:40.980 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And here the language makes it inaccessible 464 01:04:42.330 --> 01:04:44.820 Nakul Krishnamurthy: All of it gets stripped down, and it’s engaged with as a “meditative piece” 465 01:04:45.330 --> 01:04:49.770 Khyam Allami: Yes, exactly. Does that make you think that you need the freedom not only to create the piece in the way that you want it 466 01:04:51.870 --> 01:05:07.500 Khyam Allami: But also to present its contextualization in the way that you want it? 467 01:05:08.460 --> 01:05:20.460 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think that this was the idea behind this piece in a lot of ways 468 01:05:21.390 --> 01:05:30.390 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Rather than streaming a performance online being just one way of dealing with this pandemic, I also realized that if this festival is going to be online this year I should 469 01:05:31.200 --> 01:05:41.310 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Make use of what an online medium can offer and do something that i've always wanted to do, but have never been able to because of the traditional modes of performance. 470 01:05:41.880 --> 01:05:49.110 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So what is the advantage of an Internet medium here? I can have as much material as I want, I can have discussions, I can have podcasts. 471 01:05:49.410 --> 01:06:01.920 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I can have long texts and everything on the website, or people can just watch the video. If they want to engage with it, they can't read it, listen to it. So I thought, why not have a podcast alongside this piece, where I can explain the politics of it. 472 01:06:02.340 --> 01:06:12.150 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I can explain what is happening in the music, some things that may be lost, maybe make it clearer and then there's this interview to talk about those things that people might miss out on. 473 01:06:12.690 --> 01:06:29.070 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And for both audiences, not just people here, but people in India who may listen to it. To make some of these things clear, so that they can start seeing these things, that magic that happened 474 01:06:29.460 --> 01:06:31.560 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Maybe somehow communicate a part of that 475 01:06:31.590 --> 01:06:35.010 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So that they can also appreciate it 476 01:06:36.030 --> 01:06:36.960 Khyam Allami: Absolutely. 477 01:06:38.010 --> 01:06:43.530 Khyam Allami: To be honest, Nakul 478 01:06:46.980 --> 01:06:47.850 Khyam Allami: I think that your ability to 479 01:06:50.040 --> 01:06:57.480 Khyam Allami: Pull apart these musical, social and 480 01:06:59.490 --> 01:07:02.340 Khyam Allami: Political confrontations, and elucidate them in a way that's not simplistic 481 01:07:03.480 --> 01:07:16.110 Khyam Allami: That's not demeaning to the beauty and the mystery of the abstract medium that we work in, is really, really powerful. 482 01:07:16.620 --> 01:07:25.710 Khyam Allami: And, I don't want you to feel that you should have to explain yourself every time. 483 01:07:26.430 --> 01:07:36.780 Khyam Allami: That's something that I find very frustrating. I envy artists like David Lynch who can make a film and then never talk about it in any interviews 484 01:07:37.440 --> 01:07:54.990 Khyam Allami: And I think that's the kind of freedom that may only come in our lifetime later on down the line, but I think your ability to articulate these ideas is really powerful 485 01:07:56.070 --> 01:08:03.270 Khyam Allami: And I think you should continue doing that in your own way, however you feel comfortable 486 01:08:05.640 --> 01:08:17.790 Khyam Allami: Ultimately, I feel that your path is one that is asking a lot of questions and they are questions that many of us haven't come across before 487 01:08:18.450 --> 01:08:27.420 Khyam Allami: and the results of those experiments are ones that are difficult for us to appreciate without having some insight. 488 01:08:27.990 --> 01:08:45.810 Khyam Allami: And so, as much as I often hate removing the mystery from things, I think it's really valuable that you participate in that. But I also think it's more valuable for you not to be afraid to 489 01:08:47.070 --> 01:08:56.520 Khyam Allami: Rely on any kind of idiomatic representation such as actually speaking the language and the words themselves 490 01:08:57.660 --> 01:09:15.150 Khyam Allami: Everyone will find a way to follow when the material is there, but, if we're always somehow avoiding the actual core content, I think we risk losing more 491 01:09:16.350 --> 01:09:17.850 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yeah that's so true 492 01:09:18.900 --> 01:09:25.770 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Along with that there's also this lack of 493 01:09:26.700 --> 01:09:35.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: A tool kit or like you know even an approach or a methodology to unpack or even explore and think about these different kinds of things that are happening 494 01:09:36.390 --> 01:09:48.030 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For instance, if you're talking about a specific harmony that Beethoven or Wagner are using, there is so much research and discourse happening around it 495 01:09:48.480 --> 01:09:48.720 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But there is nothing like that to unpack something 496 01:09:48.870 --> 01:09:54.600 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Like what you are doing, for instance. 497 01:09:55.020 --> 01:10:06.840 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That is something that I am trying to deal with 498 01:10:07.350 --> 01:10:13.740 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Maybe this podcast was an effort to do that, you know, trying to show 499 01:10:14.340 --> 01:10:20.460 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That there are a lot of things to be explored here and, there is a need for a discourse around 500 01:10:20.760 --> 01:10:27.000 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is not something that you just switch off and say that is okay, or this is so beautiful, sounds so oriental 501 01:10:27.810 --> 01:10:37.560 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is something that needs to be there. There is a lot to be learned, a lot to be seen, if you look at it critically, or even analytically. 502 01:10:38.220 --> 01:10:40.140 Khyam Allami: Absolutely 503 01:10:41.370 --> 01:10:43.170 Khyam Allami: Do you find that it's a responsibility for you? 504 01:10:44.970 --> 01:11:03.180 Khyam Allami: Do you find that it's some kind of weight on your shoulders that maybe you do not want to deal with? or is it something that you are happy to engage with as an artist? 505 01:11:03.510 --> 01:11:15.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think I am happy to do it because I know that it is not forced. It's definitely a discourse that is needed 506 01:11:16.440 --> 01:11:25.200 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And I’m happy to take up this task of trying to encourage that discourse, it gives me a lot of pleasure because I am really happy to share these 507 01:11:25.650 --> 01:11:34.770 Nakul Krishnamurthy: interesting things that I have found and suddenly realized 508 01:11:34.950 --> 01:11:35.310 Nakul Krishnamurthy: There are so many interesting things like this happening in a lot of different pieces of music which do not get the attention 509 01:11:35.370 --> 01:11:35.820 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Or the energy. 510 01:11:35.850 --> 01:11:46.500 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That Western classical, for instance, does. I think it is unfortunate, but I'm really happy to do that, it is something that I derive a lot of happiness from. 511 01:11:48.630 --> 01:11:51.660 Khyam Allami: So maybe we can end with me asking you. 512 01:11:54.060 --> 01:11:58.170 Khyam Allami: What kind of questions would you like to be asked? 513 01:11:59.730 --> 01:12:02.190 Khyam Allami: In a perfect world 514 01:12:03.660 --> 01:12:05.940 Khyam Allami: Where you have the most 515 01:12:07.680 --> 01:12:10.170 Khyam Allami: Open minded and well educated audiences 516 01:12:11.280 --> 01:12:20.040 Khyam Allami: Or interviewers, or academics, speaking to you. What kind of questions would you like to be asked? 517 01:12:23.910 --> 01:12:24.930 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That is a wonderful question. 518 01:12:32.370 --> 01:12:37.470 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Ideally, I know what I wouldn't want to be asked, but no I shouldn't say that. 519 01:12:37.500 --> 01:12:44.700 Khyam Allami: No, let's start with that. It's an important way to look at things. 520 01:12:44.790 --> 01:12:56.400 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Personally, I like to be asked about what is happening in the piece, but I also want to have a situation where I don't need to be asked about what's happening in the piece 521 01:12:57.450 --> 01:13:04.740 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And people can just get it 522 01:13:05.730 --> 01:13:14.130 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I would like a situation where people can understand all these things without having to ask me 523 01:13:14.580 --> 01:13:26.190 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I would want to be interviewed and not asked questions as simple as where I'm from 524 01:13:28.320 --> 01:13:33.720 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That's an ideal world for me 525 01:13:34.770 --> 01:13:47.340 Nakul Krishnamurthy: You don't need to explain your inspiration, where it comes from, where the music comes from, what your music is trying to do, what are the challenges and everything 526 01:13:48.030 --> 01:13:58.860 Nakul Krishnamurthy: because, ideally, the interview questions for anyone working in the experimental field here in the UK should be the same as the interview questions for a person like me. The questions should not have to be different. 527 01:13:59.460 --> 01:13:59.700 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But. 528 01:13:59.850 --> 01:14:08.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: At the same time, I'm really happy to answer and talk about these issues because it gives me happiness that people are willing to engage with it. 529 01:14:08.670 --> 01:14:14.850 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It gives me this pleasure that people really want to know more about it 530 01:14:15.330 --> 01:14:29.310 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I love teaching. That is something that I always liked. In this case i'd not see it as teaching, but more like telling people about what I know and what is interesting to note 531 01:14:30.480 --> 01:14:35.970 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And finding and enjoying the beauty together. It's a way of sharing, so here it is. 532 01:14:36.510 --> 01:14:43.800 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When I do that, I'm not being an artist who's saying look at what I have done, it's more like a collaborative exploration, where we both listen to it and see. 533 01:14:44.100 --> 01:14:47.520 Nakul Krishnamurthy: This thing happened when I was making this music, let us both listen to it together. 534 01:14:47.790 --> 01:14:54.510 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And that is something that I really enjoy 535 01:14:54.840 --> 01:15:05.700 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But in an ideal world, what I would want, and this is not only concerning me but concerning all artists who are struggling to have their voice heard 536 01:15:07.290 --> 01:15:13.710 Nakul Krishnamurthy: is to have a situation where they don't need to be asked a separate set of questions from those who are born and brought up here. 537 01:15:14.400 --> 01:15:17.610 Khyam Allami: I feel what you're saying. 538 01:15:21.000 --> 01:15:30.360 Khyam Allami: Are there any musical aspects of the composition, that we didn't discuss that that maybe you'd like to 539 01:15:31.710 --> 01:15:36.540 Khyam Allami: Point our ears to? 540 01:15:37.620 --> 01:15:38.850 Khyam Allami: Whether they be things to do with rāgs that you’ve used 541 01:15:40.140 --> 01:15:43.950 Khyam Allami: or certain phrasings or certain techniques 542 01:15:45.570 --> 01:15:52.110 Khyam Allami: that you used for specific words to bring out different meanings? 543 01:15:53.340 --> 01:16:00.210 Khyam Allami: How can I better appreciate the finer details without you having to spell it out for me? 544 01:16:01.710 --> 01:16:03.840 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think now that I have spoken about that collision between Vallabha and Kaamam 545 01:16:04.920 --> 01:16:11.940 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I'll type out the lyrics in English and I'll also send you the translation 546 01:16:12.750 --> 01:16:24.480 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So that you have access to it and individual word meanings. So when you listen to it, you can figure out what I was talking about. 547 01:16:24.930 --> 01:16:30.090 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Maybe another interesting thing that happened to me was 548 01:16:30.840 --> 01:16:37.710 Nakul Krishnamurthy: When I was working on this project, the dancer said, it would be good if I can have a sense of rhythm. 549 01:16:38.730 --> 01:16:44.040 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And in my music when I'm thinking about phrases and alaps, they don't have rhythms. 550 01:16:44.340 --> 01:16:50.190 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So how should I think about that, how do I bring in a rhythm without having rhythmic instruments? 551 01:16:50.250 --> 01:16:52.020 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So I thought the simple solution was 552 01:16:52.020 --> 01:17:00.240 Nakul Krishnamurthy: To go for a jātī, which is spoken syllables 553 01:17:01.560 --> 01:17:01.860 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Like the bōls for dance 554 01:17:01.890 --> 01:17:07.950 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It's called jati for dance 555 01:17:08.610 --> 01:17:14.460 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But that is a very simple solution, so how do I make it interesting? 556 01:17:15.330 --> 01:17:25.290 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So I went back to my technique of having different phrases. But rather than having a long gap, I just went and recorded different phrases at a specific tempo. 557 01:17:26.460 --> 01:17:35.970 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And then I thought why not put them in the generative system and see what comes out of it. And something beautiful came out of it! 558 01:17:36.990 --> 01:17:38.160 Nakul Krishnamurthy: What was really interesting for me was that, on the one hand 559 01:17:39.660 --> 01:17:48.870 Nakul Krishnamurthy: You can hear the pulse, to instantly move to 560 01:17:49.440 --> 01:17:56.310 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But the placement of the syllables that are supposed to be on the strong beat, suddenly come on a different beat 561 01:17:56.850 --> 01:18:04.950 Nakul Krishnamurthy: If there is a cycle of eight when you do not understand the dance language, the moment you understand the dance language, the cycle is gone. 562 01:18:05.460 --> 01:18:12.630 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Because you're associating a word with a strong beat, rather than the pulse that you're going with 563 01:18:13.110 --> 01:18:13.920 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That was very interesting for me 564 01:18:14.130 --> 01:18:21.630 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I do not understand it completely, the language of jatī, but 565 01:18:22.470 --> 01:18:31.950 Nakul Krishnamurthy: From what I understand, I suddenly realized that for some people, there is a constant rhythmic cycle, but for some, there is no cycle 566 01:18:32.010 --> 01:18:33.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And that is a positive thing 567 01:18:33.300 --> 01:18:34.830 Khyam Allami: Can you tell me what the phrases of the jati that you used were? 568 01:18:34.950 --> 01:18:35.280 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I used probably around 25, like tan, tit, tey, so many of them. 569 01:18:35.520 --> 01:18:36.180 Khyam Allami: So you were improvising the different syllables that are used in jatīs 570 01:18:36.780 --> 01:18:40.140 Khyam Allami: Not using one specific phrase, and then rearranging those particular syllables. 571 01:18:40.440 --> 01:18:43.620 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I recorded phrases with just one syllable in it, or five syllables and some of them will be in triple time. 572 01:18:45.240 --> 01:18:48.390 Nakul Krishnamurthy: or some of them will be very slow over half note lengths 573 01:18:48.600 --> 01:18:54.900 Khyam Allami: And I put them in the generative system and let them interact with each other 574 01:18:55.140 --> 01:19:00.810 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It started generating weird patterns 575 01:19:02.610 --> 01:19:05.310 Nakul Krishnamurthy: and then I built them up towards the end. 576 01:19:05.580 --> 01:19:14.100 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And that gave me this breaking of the rhythmic cycle 577 01:19:14.400 --> 01:19:27.870 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But at the same time, I also realized that the jati usually doesn't have the dancer acting and emoting 578 01:19:27.900 --> 01:19:28.920 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It is usually a way of expressing rhythm 579 01:19:29.100 --> 01:19:33.360 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Indian classical dance has both emotive expression and physical movements 580 01:19:34.080 --> 01:19:41.700 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So when it is devoid of emotive expression it becomes just physical movements. 581 01:19:42.150 --> 01:19:49.050 Nakul Krishnamurthy: So I asked myself, why is it that? Why can't we have an emotive response to it, so I started layering sung jatīs on top of it. 582 01:19:49.860 --> 01:20:01.050 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And then it became even more complicated because the rhythmic cycle was totally broken all together towards the end. 583 01:20:01.560 --> 01:20:09.180 Nakul Krishnamurthy: For a dancer, it’s probably it is just a pulse 584 01:20:09.510 --> 01:20:17.280 Nakul Krishnamurthy: But for a person who listens to the music without knowing the language of the dance 585 01:20:17.820 --> 01:20:27.570 Nakul Krishnamurthy: It may sound like another rhythmic cycle, or even longer phases 586 01:20:28.080 --> 01:20:41.970 Khyam Allami: It felt to me like the rhythmic cycle started off quite simple and became more and more complex over time, but I definitely could feel the syncopation of the accenting 587 01:20:42.510 --> 01:20:51.480 Khyam Allami: And the interplay of the rhythms and while watching the video I could also start to visualize the rhythmic cycle and 588 01:20:52.260 --> 01:21:12.270 Khyam Allami: How that was being navigated but I was always feeling surprised, sometimes, by the way that a particular syllable would land in a specific syncopated slot, or by hearing multiple syllables at the same time that you wouldn't associate with each other 589 01:21:12.300 --> 01:21:16.170 Khyam Allami: And I found this very exciting, because I studied Indian tabla. 590 01:21:16.800 --> 01:21:18.960 Khyam Allami: Hindustani tabla 591 01:21:19.020 --> 01:21:19.770 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Ah, so you know what I’m talking about! 592 01:21:22.650 --> 01:21:31.200 Khyam Allami: Yes! And reciting the bols, was one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had learning music 593 01:21:31.230 --> 01:21:50.220 Khyam Allami: I'm not so good at it anymore, because I haven't practiced for 10 years or much, much more than that! But I always found that language, the language of rhythm in Indian music as a whole, as being something incredibly fascinating but also something that was 594 01:21:53.400 --> 01:22:00.270 Khyam Allami: stuck within rigid compositional confines 595 01:22:00.750 --> 01:22:12.960 Khyam Allami: There are forms that you always have to follow, and it's quite difficult to find music that breaks out of those forms. So when I was hearing your interpretation of this it got me very excited because 596 01:22:13.710 --> 01:22:23.520 Khyam Allami: I'm aware of it, I know what it's supposed to represent, I know it's supposed to mean, but at the same time, I too was getting lost because I've never heard anything like that before. 597 01:22:24.090 --> 01:22:36.240 Khyam Allami: I was like, do I trust my ears? Do I not trust my ears? Is my intuition correct or not? It’s a beautiful feeling for me 598 01:22:36.900 --> 01:22:45.150 Nakul Krishnamurthy: You don't know how glad this makes me because I really wanted people to get this you know and I’m so glad you found it! 599 01:22:47.820 --> 01:22:54.300 Nakul Krishnamurthy: If even two people hear this and they realise that there was something like this happening, I'd be happy and I'm so glad you found it. 600 01:22:54.840 --> 01:22:56.130 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Amazing 601 01:22:56.550 --> 01:23:01.410 Khyam Allami: Well that's maybe another conversation for next time, where we talk about rhythm 602 01:23:01.470 --> 01:23:05.730 Khyam Allami: More than then the oscillation of pitch. 603 01:23:06.150 --> 01:23:10.800 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Yeah that's also another new territory for me that's I've just started exploring 604 01:23:11.430 --> 01:23:20.760 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I really wanted to talk to you sometime about the Apotome project, because I can envision thinking about 605 01:23:21.840 --> 01:23:25.800 Nakul Krishnamurthy: Doing something with it 606 01:23:27.030 --> 01:23:30.330 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I think it gives a very good foundation for thinking about different tunings 607 01:23:31.650 --> 01:23:34.830 Nakul Krishnamurthy: And at the same time 608 01:23:35.070 --> 01:23:37.500 Nakul Krishnamurthy: How we can re-think those tunings as oscillations too 609 01:23:38.250 --> 01:23:40.380 Nakul Krishnamurthy: How can we use that as fodder to create new ways of moving between notes 610 01:23:41.010 --> 01:23:46.800 Nakul Krishnamurthy: That can indicate a different tuning itself 611 01:23:47.220 --> 01:23:56.640 Nakul Krishnamurthy: I want to play with Apotome a bit more, I haven't had a chance to do that, but after Counterflows that's one of the things that I’m planning to do 612 01:23:57.450 --> 01:24:07.590 Khyam Allami: Fantastic