Tuesday, March 5, 2013

'Cycles' Collaborative Multimedia Creation Laboratory

I'm 4 days into a month-long creation process at an art gallery in Toronto.

Because this is a tabla blog here, I can geek out on what I'm trying to do, but first....here's the first video from the project, a Tintal Peshkar with esraj accompaniment by the amazing Rattan Bhamrah:

Cycles: Part 1 from Ed Hanley on Vimeo.

So...first the project, then what's going on tabla-wise in that video.

The project (which has its own website here: http://www.cycles-film.com/ ) kind of fell into my lap. The folks who book the gallery approached me to see if I would be interested in doing a show. I balked initially, as I'm a musician (and yes, photo and video are also creative languages for me) but I had no idea what I'd do for a 'visual art' show. But I though about it a bit, and thought it might be cool to record a tabla solo, 52 Kaidas style (i.e. in discreet chunks) and crowd-source the accompaniment by recording and sampling anyone who came into the gallery. Then of course, I'd have to shoot music videos for each piece, and THEN, I knew I'd have to stitch it all together into a film.

Did i mention they approached me in mid-February, and the slot they wanted me to fill started March 1st? Yeah. So...I'm still kind of forming the idea of the whole thing as I go.

Much like a Kaida, there are rules, and the fact that there are rules is actually freeing, rather than restricting.

The rules are:
1. record all the parts of a tabla solo (peshkar, kaidas, kaida relas, relas, parans, thukras, chakradars etc) but in different talas (I'm planning Tintal, Jhaptal, Chartal Ki Sawari and Rupak but who knows)

Larry, Udu-ing.
2. Everything has to be created and recorded in the space....audio, video, photos, paintings, dance, you name it (this is one place where it's completely open ended). If someone wants to come down and vocalize bird sounds while they dance around in a feathered suit, I will record it, and I will integrate it into the piece. (tastefully, of course)

3. It has to be all inclusive: if you can clap your hands once, I can sample that clap, and work it into a piece. If you can pluck one note on a guitar, you're in the piece. If you have a FACE, I will take your picture, and you will be in the piece. Open to everyone. 

4. I have to be there, ready for anything, every single day for the entire month of March. And I need to work fast. I cannot agonize over tinytiny details...this project is about raw creation, not crystalline studio perfection. I think that exercising creativity and problem solving skills is important, so this is like a month-long creative boot-camp for me.

5. Ummmm..errr... I'm sure there are more rules, but it's late, and i can't remember. The project website has it all on there already. If you're a Torontonian, stop by. It's a new adventure everyday!

OK! Tabla-time!

I just LOVE this composition!

I learned this from Pandit Suresh Talwalkar in Pune. It's a really lovely arrangement: Peshkar, flowing into a Kaida, flowing into a Rela.

Tihais popping off everywhere, really cool vocabulary, tricky rhythmic phrasing, you name it. And slooooow tempo. I kind of rush through it (and I'm glad I did...the video is over 8 minutes long, which is about 7:45 seconds too long for most of internet-enabled humanity, sadly) but I could hang out on each section for 10 minutes easily.

I'm playing a low D tabla made by Mukta Das, and a baya that he reheaded...a Benares shell that weighs a LOT, very bottom-heavy, and stable.

This is probably (but not definitely) the most traditional presentation of tabla solo material I'll be doing in this project. I'm going to be sampling random strangers, so...there could be tuba, musical saw, gosh...even bongos!

Oh...that video is downloadable! (I'll also upload it to YouTube this evening)

This blog post here talks about how it was made...

I'll cross-post significant videos and recordings here. I recorded a Jhaptal Palta Theka on March 2nd, and now just have to build to accompaniment from whoever turns up, and I have some interesting tabla material planned.

thanks for reading, and head over to Cycles!


I almost forgot:

This Cycles project is not to be confused with THIS Cycles album, by another Canadian tabla player (high-five!) by the name of Shawn Mativetsky, which you should totally check out. Very cool stuff.

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