Critics might be sceptical of a musical workshop that combines Baul, rock, western classical, jazz and blues. But on December 19 at City Centre, Lucy Forde and Michael Goodey, tutors from Guildhall School of Music and Drama who led Different Strokes: Musical Voices From Communities — British Councils creative music-leadership project, proved all sceptics wrong. Participants of the workshop included Ranjan Ghosh who plays both eastern and western classical violin, pianist Chaitali Ghosh who teaches choir and piano at the Calcutta School of Music, drummer Sanjay Gupta, guitarist Tajdar Junaid and guitarist, vocalist and arranger Joel Mukerjee. The wider group of participants included vocalist Wriddhaayan Bhattacharya, Stobraj Gooptu on keyboards, classical guitarist Raktim Ray and Satyaki Banerjee and Sandip Samaddar of the roots-folk group Calcutta Cycle, guitarist and harmonica player Srobon Banerjee, pianist Pradyumna Singh Manot and vocalist Sukanya Ghosh.
Did musicians from this wide a spectrum of backgrounds manage to put up a cohesive musical performance? Yes, and how! Case in point would be Enigma, a piece that incorporates three apparently unconnected sections that starts with a bluesy instrumental intro, mellows to accommodate geet-like vocals from Wriddhaayan and ends on a soaring note that incorporates it all. Or the very technical Wired, with its rousing odd-time signature.
It turned out to be an unforgettable experience for all — so much so that the participants couldnt let the music go even when out of the workshop. Sanjays groove in seven-and-a-half (Wired was Sanjays composition) had me recounting the beat in my dreams, in the loo… It kept playing in my head, said Joel. The idea was not to just let everyone jam on their own. It was a lot like picking at that specific thing someone was fooling around with and using the main strengths of the musicians and developing it, explained Lucy. Which was why each song sounded different, from the ballad One Fine Day to the Brazilian rain song Hey Dumbar to Disturbed, which centred around Lucys lines, to another tune that used Raag Bhairavi and Baul vocals and instruments by Satyaki and Sandip.
How did all this help leadership, in a musical context? It helped. We saw a lot of musicians become a lot more confident of their ability. They slowly learned to take the lead and to take initiative or sometimes even just play with the team and take a backseat. That just might be what the piece requires, smiled Lucy.