Deccan Chronicle

Red Earth and Pouring Rain

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What happens when a classically trained Carnatic vocalist with a guitarist who likes playing progressive rock? Well, welcome to the sounds of Red Earth and Pouring Rain. Make no mistake, this is not the namesake book but a musical duo from Bangalore featuring Harini Iyer on vocals and Abhijit Nath on guitar. The duo focuses on traditional and improvisational music seasoned with contemporary influences. Their interests span Carnatic, Jazz, Bossa and Latin music, aiming to bring the emotional core of each of these genres to fresh audiences.

Harini, a singer song-writer and an arranger from Chennai/ Boston is currently on a gap year from studying Contemporary Music and Production at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “I like singing and listening to RnB, Neo Soul and Jazz usually and also some Middle Eastern and Latin music. I was in the Balkan Choir at Berklee and really enjoyed the vocal projection techniques I learned and found them similar to Indian Vedic Hymn chanting that I grew up listening to. My vocal style is a potpourri of all of these influences and I try to bring the core of these elements through lessons and dialogue with people belonging to different places. This show is about improvisation and dialogue, stepping out of one’s comfort zone in terms of music; Latin grooves with polyrhythms, the push and pull of harmony and dissonance with the melody and how they all come together eventually in the pieces we perform.” The duo is performing some Carnatic pieces set to western harmony and vice versa; a Jazz standard with Indian improvisation as well as a few groovy, Latin songs.

Red Earth and Pouring Rain
Red Earth and Pouring Rain

Musically, Abhijit’s primary interests have been in world music that are melodically and rhythmically advanced to the same degree as Indian classical music- both Hindustani and Carnatic music. These include Turkish, Armenian, Jewish and North African music from Mali and Senegal. “What I love about these is that truly great traditional practitioners of these arts are engaging with Western harmony as equals with active ears, and not just as ‘fusion’ with non-cohesive layers. Despite the wonderful music made by artists like Shakti from the 70s and Prasanna in the 90s, I’ve also felt that that true cohesion between East & West in Indian ‘fusion’ music is still something that we haven’t quite gotten comfortable with. That is what we’re trying to achieve with Red Earth & Pouring Rain- a sound that’s truly rooted in Indian classical music, but one that receives harmonic content as an ‘equal’ and responds to it. The Carnatic pieces we are working with- primarily rhythmic dance pieces called thillanas, and jazz standards such as ‘Summertime,’ have been substantially reworked to balance Indian melody and Western, jazz-informed harmony. To lighten the mood and groove a little, we have a few Latin pieces through the set as well.” While the duo approach both music and performance differently with Abhijit analysing most of the pieces they do almost clinically from a cerebral point of view, Harini always strives for the emotional core of the music. And therein is the charm of their performances. Red Earth and Pouring Rain’s bio on the website reads “ears open to the sounds of the world” and this performance will transfer exactly that essence, energy and vibrations to the audience.

Red Earth and Pouring Rain
Red Earth and Pouring Rain
  • What: Red Earth and Pouring Rain
  • Where: Shoonya – Centre for Art and Somatic Practices, 4th Floor, Rear Wing, Brahmananda Court, 37, Lal Bagh Main Road, (Opposite Royal Enfield and CMS Jain College), Bangalore. Phone: +91 77608 32226
  • When: Saturday Dec 21st, 7 PM – 9 PM
  • Tickets: Rs. 300

This story first appeared in Deccan Chronicle Bengaluru dated Dec 20, 2019 here:

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