Kutle Khan: To make folk music acceptable to a larger audience, some “re-creation” is needed

By Bryan Durham - January 20, 2019

Kutle Khan has long been the unofficial brand ambassador for Rajasthan’s folk music. And now, he is all set to wow Mumbai with his music. According to the release, he “will present an experience, which will bring alive the forgotten sounds of folk instruments and songs”, come January 25, 2019.

Kutle Khan: To make folk music acceptable to a larger audience, some “re-creation” is needed

We sent the maestro some questions trying to understand what to expect from his Mumbai performance. Here are some excerpts…

You have been part of Coke Studio, what newness are you bringing to folk fusion with Sounds From The Desert?

This show is a great platform that enables me to spread the true legacy of Rajasthani folk. The performances are a fusion of multiple Rajasthani folk instruments and vocals. There will be a fusion of traditional instruments like dholak, morchang, kartaal, khamaycha, sarangi, algooza with drums and keyboards to create an amazing folk fusion experience without losing the true roots. We will be showcasing some master folk musicians / instrumentalists of the Manganiyar community.  This was a chance to bring the true Sounds From The Desert live to the blue seas in Mumbai.

Everybody’s doing their versions of folk fusion, especially in Bollywood. Are these re-creations  of traditional and known folk melodies (I’m intentionally not using the word ‘renditions’ or ‘cover version’) doing more harm than good?

As much as I personally would not want to tamper with the original sound and flavour of traditional and folk melodies, but to make the music more acceptable for a larger audience, some amount of “re-creation” is needed. Now, it’s not necessary that all re-creations are good, but then they end up bringing the sound into the music space. As long as this can be done without destroying the original flavour, I think it’s okay.

If you had to explain to a complete newbie what kartaal is, how would you describe it?

A kartaal is a portable pocket-sized percussion instrument made of two flat rectangular pieces of wood that creates a rhythm when clapped together. Now that clapping together is where lies the art.

One musician you believe has done most justice to folk music and folk fusion

Munshi Khan, who is unfortunately no more and Anwar Khan, who is doing very good folk music and folk-fusion with Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

What is about performing at the Royal Opera House that you look forward to?

The Royal Opera House is one of the most beautiful venues and it stands for tradition in a modern sense. The venue, post-renovation is even more traditional in its ambience and feel, and brings out the best in an artist.

What can the audience expect to be treated to on January 25?

While you will get to hear the sounds of the beautiful instruments of Rajasthan, we will also showcase the Ghoomar, our traditional dance. The songs you will get to hear will be a mix of traditional and those traditional ones which are very popular. A special edition of Kesariya Baalam, songs like Chhoti Si Umar, Kagalia, Kattey, Hitchki and many more will be performed with a true Rajasthani folk sensibility. Expect to be truly treated to the real Rajasthan.



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