A Festival Of Underground, Experimental & International Music
April 2021
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The Counterflows Carnatic Music Project Chennai, India 2016 – DAY ONE



Day 1. Back in the clutch of South Indian heat and the sound of honking traffic

So here I am back in Chennai. Last November as part of a British Council delegation I tasted a glimpse of the wonders of South Indian and of course at Counterflows 2016 we brought to Glasgow the amazing Carnatic music ensemble led by the incomparable Dr L. Muthuswamy. And now I’m back in Chennai, this time to develop a project with the amazing Mark Fell and his equally brilliant son Rian Treanor. We’re going to be exploring the intricate and ancient sound world of South India’s classical culture of carnatic music. Looking at the systems and processes that form the basis of this unique form. We are not out to learn to how play Carnatic music of course. That would be a ridiculous conceit. It would take 30 years to touch base with such an intricate sound world. No, we are here to talk, to open a dialogue between different approaches and maybe cultures, to work together and to maybe create something new. We’ll be recording stuff and sketching out ideas as we absorb the atmosphere and listen.

So day 1 started well. We touched down in Chennai at around 6am and due to the diligence of the EarthSync’s team everything runs smoothly. From actually being able to withdraw some rupees (more on this later), to being collected by the hotel driver to take us to down town Chennai and then being able to get to our rooms. Mark is suffering from a bad bout of flu and in recovery but great that he made the flight. Rest!

After my usual determination to get out and soak in the city, the sun and thick balmy air gets too much and I head back to the hotel. That evening we meet the most incredible gentleman. Sastry Karra is a modest but visionary man. He helped or maybe indeed did set up Earthsync supporting Sonya and her team in many sorts of ways. The evening’s shared talk of ideas about culture to the origin of carnatic music is inspiring and once the production team join us for dinner we even get to talk about speakers and the DX7. It all bodes well…

buildings and a street in chennai