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In conversation with Blind Orchestra

How do you put your music together? Do you rehearse your music well enough to play it blind folded or how is your collaborative process?

The music is all 100% improvised live on stage. Every show features new musicians and new music is being composed. We do not prepare music or a plan for a show but we do meet for one preparation jam just to understand and get used to the improvisation concept, understand the options and challenges and get a better feel for each other.

Has playing music blindfolded enhanced your sensitivity to music with every performance ?

My ability to focus and listen goes up and down but once I play without seeing it becomes better by the minute. The need to see gradually disappears. It becomes more and more natural and the sensitivity for sound get enhanced.

Explain what you mean by ‘orchestral improv’ and how it compliments playing blindfolded

ORCHESTRATED IMPROV is how I coin the Blind Orchestra’s improvisation concept. There are 3 elements: The blindfolds is the first one. The second one is having a conductor who can see and listen and navigate the music. His job is to signal the musicians when to play and when to stop by a touch of a wand. The third one is about maintaining a healthy team spirit by being respectful, submissive, and supportive. That’s the key ingredient.

What kind of technical expertise do each of you carry to be able to play and improvise on your instruments blindfolded?

There are no special expertise apart from high skill musicianship. It’s not rare for an accomplished musician to be able to play blindfolded. This show is not about bragging of the ability to play blindfolded. If there’s any bragging it’s about the fact I can get 8 top musicians on one stage and make music which is melodic, harmonic, interesting and structured. All-star jams could easily become a musical disaster. The need for expression and attention is something to be considered and solved and our concept does just that.

Who are the musicians from India that you have had in your orchestra and how was the experience?

There’s a long list of Indian musicians who took part and were just terrific. For example, bass player Manas Chowdhary who is my Mumbai brother and a partner in the Mumbai operation. Vocalist Shiv Nirmukta took part in the London show, which gave a great twist to the sound of the whole band. I can also mention the youngest musician ever to take part, which is Delhi drummer Aditya Bhagavatula. Other names that come to mind are Kartikeya Vashisht, Chintan Kalra, MC Kaur, Ambar Das, Sheil obZerver, Nicolette Gore and the list goes on and on.

Any message or just creative presentation you are trying to convey by playing music blind folded?

The blindfolds are just an assisting tools to what I want to achieve. I’m a music addict and an improvisation researcher that found a concept that allows improved teamwork and collaboration efficiany. I search for the win-win situation that will please everyone involved: The conductor, the musicians and the audience. It’s about finding unity and possibly, it can be found everywhere if researched well enough. I’m talking about relationships, buisness, politics or any kind of group effort that involves different needs and interests.

Is there any scope for an album or EP for a concept like Blind Orchestra?

I plan to release a “best of live shows compilation” album soon. There are many videos available but these are souvenirs. They are lovely but nothing is like being in the room when it happens. It happens once and it’s special because that music will never ever be played again. It’s sometimes heartbreaking to experience magic disappearing into the best with no ability to hold and keep it. I guess that teaches me disattachement but also insures new magic will appear later.


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