(From left) Emre Gultekin and Malabika Brahma performing during a music concert at Alliance Francaise in Sector 36, Chandigarh, on Wednesday evening.(Sanjeev Sharma/HT)
(From left) Emre Gultekin and Malabika Brahma performing during a music concert at Alliance Francaise in Sector 36, Chandigarh, on Wednesday evening.(Sanjeev Sharma/HT)

Baul meets Saz: A blend of music from two nations

Kolkata natives Malabika Brahma, Sanjay Khyapa have united with Emre Gultekin from Turkey for a new music project
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Poulami Kundu, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON JAN 17, 2020 01:18 AM IST

It was their love for music that made Malabika Brahma and Sanjay Khyapa, both from Kolkata, West Bengal, develop a bond with Emre Gultekin who belongs to Turkey.

Gultekin, who plays the saz, a prominent instrument of Turkish folk music, met baul singers Brahma and Khyapa during a recording session of the duo in Brussels (Belgium) in 2016. They instantly felt the connection between the two kinds of music and joined hands for the ‘Baul meets Saz’ project. The Baul culture is rooted in Bengal where musicians move from place to place and sing songs on various topics like love, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, yoga and tantra.

The trio was in the city to perform at Alliance Francaise in Sector 36, Chandigarh.

Brahma (37) said, “Our music is like our prayers. Gultekin hails from Turkey but his music has a lot of similarity with ours. Our languages differ but our purpose is the same -- spreading the message of brotherhood.” “Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Bengali and Urdu languages have a lot of common words such as murshid and fakir,” Brahma said.

FOLK MUSIC EVOLVES EVERYDAY

Talking abut folk music, Khyapa said, “It evolves every day. It is not static like other classical forms. It can accommodate lyrics of all kinds for the development of mankind.” He added, “Folk music plays a key role in bringing people together.”

The trio said their music questions the meaning of borders, travel, wealth, wisdom and love.

Khyapa’s 16-year-old daughter Torsha Bhattacharjee, who also performed at the concert, said, “I hardly practise with my parents. I never compromised studies for music as it comes naturally to me.”

Brahma said he and Khyapa have been practising baul music since 2004. The duo mostly uses four instruments, including barbad, dubki, dotara and ghungroo. Brahma sings centennial poems in her warm and subtle voice, supported by Khyapa, who plays the dubki (percussion), and the dotara (a two-stringed instrument).

Gultekin, who has been practising music since early childhood, has collaborated with many musicians from various origins such as Dadmehr (Iran), Malick Pathe Sow (Senegal), Goran Bregovic (Serbia - Croatia) and Wouter Vandenabeele (Belgium).

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