Fusion music brings people closer and dissolves barriers: Classical singer Nadeem Khan

Fusion music has been influencing people for quite a few years now, even major artists and the overall Indian classical scenario has accepted this music style.
Indian Classical vocalist Nadeem Khan during his riyaz.
Indian Classical vocalist Nadeem Khan during his riyaz.The Bridge Chronicle

A musician never stops doing his riyaz (training). He is either training his vocal cords or ears to listen to different forms of music. All musicians should expose themselves to all forms of music, irrespective of the language, borders and techniques. Nadeem Khan, a Hindustani classical vocalist, believes that doing so ascertains a broader approach and increases knowledge bank.

Hailing from the reputed Rampur-Sehaswan Gharana (lineage), who collaborated with London-based flautist Katrina Fountain in 2010 for the album 'Aghaaz' remembers, "It was a milestone in my musical journey. I will always be grateful to her for the project as it gave me exposure to western music and its techniques. I learnt a lot from this collaboration, it was an unforgettable experience,"

Being born in a family of Indian classical vocalists, he had a musical influence from a very young age. This exponent of Khayal gayaki was introduced to music by his maternal grandfather Ustad Sarfaraz Husain Khan and received guidance from his older cousin Ustad Rashid Khan. He considers himself lucky to be in an environment surrounded by music and musical geniuses.

"Though this helped develop a deep interest and fascination for music, I must stress that one needs to have natural talent too. I always believe that any legacy is not someone's paternal property without having the ability and determination to inherit it deservingly."

Khayal is a popular form of Hindustani classical music, and it is equated with imagination and romantic poetry. Khan says that there are multiple reasons for his fascination with Khayal gayaki — the emotions with which one elaborates a handful of notes into a rendition along with expressions and certain embellishments that justify the literal sense of composition. "This is just like painting a beautiful portrait on canvas. Besides this, it has very strong technical elements that can help enhance and hone their tonal quality and voice production."

Khan has a strong command over many forms of classical music like Tarana, Thumri, Bhajan, Ghazal and Sufi — therefore struggling to select his favourite amongst them. In his support, he says "I am someone who believes in being versatile, and all these forms boast of beauty, attraction and grace in their respective styles. It will not be fair to compare them too. I feel it is a blessing to be able to present every form with equal ease and command,"

Interestingly, the classical singer also has a music band, 'Aayat', which he started with his younger brother Rizwan Khan in 2012. After working on the 'Aghaaz' album, he started jamming with several western musicians and even gave vocals for a record label, 'Misbah Records' for a fusion number 'Mast Qalandar', from the album Sufi Jhoom that featured A. Hariharan and Ustad Raees Khan. "This is where I started liking the whole concept of fusing Indian Classical vocals with western music progression, and the idea got transformed into practicality in the form of the band."

When asked about the reaction of purists to fusion music, the classical vocalist asserts that fusion music has been influencing people for quite a few years now. Major artists like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Zakir Hussain, and the overall Indian classical music scenario, to an extent, have accepted it too. "Purists and critics now expect fusion to be more musical and sensible, and not confusing."

Khan, who was recently part of HCL Concerts' 'Baithak' feels that it is high time that more corporates step forward to support the art and culture. He wishes that leading foundations and corporates come forward to promote the rich cultural heritage of South Asia.

Pandemic led to the cancellation of many shows and concerts many adapted and conducted digital concerts. Though he misses performing live, the artist thinks that digital concerts have helped the artist fraternity to keep sharing, and it has even given much exposure to many artists. "But of course, we all are looking forward to performing live and experiences that come from travelling to different places, meeting new people and encountering new cultures. Not to forget the warmth of a live audience."

(With inputs from IANS)

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