‘Songs on Syncretism’- merging Norwegian-Indian musical traditions

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Photo: Madhumita Ray performing at a local temple in Norway

The month of June saw the coming together Indian and Norwegian musical traditions through the tour of renowned Hindustani Classical vocalist Madhumita Ray to Norway.

Ray, an exponent of the khayal and semi classical genres, has been travelling to Norway since the late 90s, giving performances and workshops on Indian Classical Music, including raga development, voice culture and improvisation techniques.

Techniques of Indian Classical music – be it the vocal drills for voice strengthening and building resonance, improvisation, working with melodies – have long been known to benefit not just students of Indian Classical, but other musical practitioners as well. Not surprisingly therefore, Ray’s workshops and sessions have attracted students of folk and jazz music, as well as pop artistes. She has lectured at the Music High Schola, University of Oslo, and various music academies across Norway, teaching music students aspects of Indian classical music that could strengthen their own musical practice. Some of them, such as artiste Mattis Myrland, a Norwegian pop and blues-grass musician and long-time student of Ray, has used elements of Indian classical in his music albums. 

This summer, Ray travelled to Norway, giving masterclasses, and workshops for music students – including high school students, senior musicians, and children. While the techniques of Indian Classical Music were dwelled on, on the other side, the spiritual and philosophical aspect of the music, was a big highlight of this trip. The music, said to possess spiritual qualities, is increasingly being used in yoga centres and clinics across the world. To this end, a performance and music therapy session was held at the Aksept Senter of HIV/AIDS in Oslo.

The visit concluded with a session about ‘Songs on Syncretism’, at the University of Oslo, and a performance of some of this music at the Rommen Scene.

“At a time when globally, tensions between communities are rising, this message of music, love and harmony, is a crucial one”, says Ray as she concludes her successful tour to Norway.