21 October 2019

Ta ka di mi

I missed Sandy Evans and band in concert the night before, but I did make their workshop on the Saturday. They introduced the session with an intriguing tune, Robben Island, a response to the South African apartheid movement and its personalities. We heard of its structure as mixing passages of 9/8 and 4/4 and use of transpositions against the Bobby Singh's tabla tuned in C; bassist Brett plays ostinatos on 3 chords, all including C#; Sandy solos on an unusual pentatonic of 1-b3-#4-5-7. Then on to hear of the band, how they work together, an introduction to the tabla and a paean on commitment to craft and a simple introduction to vocalised Northern Indian rhythms (Ta ka di mi, etc; each vocal tone is a type of tabla hit with consistent patterns underlying group improvisations) which we sang along to. These rhythms are commonly 7-9-11-13 ... 21 but can reach to 108(?) and a tabla player must hit the 1 with a "full stop" to precede that. We mused over differences from Western polyrhythms (multiple rhythms played concurrently; this Indian technique is a single, if complex, line), over approaches to composition, over differences between electric and acoustic bass (not least the calluses), how the band collaborates and creates together, and more. Then an opportunity for attendees to play. I had to go so missed that. The session was sadly short and I had too many questions and these are such informed and thoughtful players. What a pleasure and an opportunity. Thanks to Sandy and offsiders but also to the ANU Open School of Music for making this available.

Sandy Evans (tenor), Bobby Singh (tabla), Brett Hirst (bass) and Toby Hall (drums) presented a workshop at the Ainslie Arts Centre.

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