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The French gypsy

Travelling flamenco guitarist Titi Robin is recording an album with Indian musicians based on French melodies

music Updated: Nov 01, 2010 19:39 IST
Sharin Bhatti

Think mellifluous melodies twined with raspy vocals. Meditative flute, trumpet, sarangi and shehnai solos uniting colloquial Sufi poetry and French word pop. Music that makes for an experience is what flamenco and gypsy guitarist Titi Robin has been creating for more than 30 years.

Now on his fifth visit to India, the artiste wishes to pay “homage to the culture that has inspired him the most,” with his album Lal Asman (Red Sky). Robin will record the album at Blue Frog Studios with Hindustani classical musicians interpreting Robin’s compositions in their own style. “I composed the songs in France and mailed them to the artistes who’ve filled in harmonies and melodies over time. I’ve been here for 14 days and we’ve already recorded 12 songs,” says Robin.

The musicians on the album include Murad Ali on sarangi, Vinay Mishra on harmonium, Vinayak Netke on tabla, Paras Nath on bansuri, Sandip Chaterjee on santoor, Sanjeev and Ashwani Shankar on shehnai and Dino Banjara on percussions. Mahalaxmi Iyer, Aparna Panshikar and Imran Khan have contributed by singing.

Robin says this is music that has riffs and beats of Indian instrumentals poured in western melodies. “I don’t want to be labelled as an artiste who is taking the East to the West. I am taking the West to the East. What inspires me is Kurdish, Iranian, gypsy, Mediterranean and Sufi poetry and music,” he says, adding that the guitar is probably the most apt stringed instrument to reinterpret old melodies and scales. “This is pre-human civilisation, much before Western classical music was born. I have spent my life researching and reviving music from that era,” he says.

Robin’s previous nine albums include only gypsy, flamenco, Kurdish, African and sufi inspired songs. “I am a contemporary artiste inspired by the East. I am a memory of the times that nobody remembers.” He will travel back to France with the recorded album, to be mixed and released internationally in March 2011.