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Interview with Shariq Parvez

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi! I am fine. Right now I am sitting in my art gallery in Udaipur, Rajasthan, working on a painting.

What’s on your schedule at the moment? 
With the tourist season just starting in India, I am going to be busy in my gallery showing my work and that of other local artists during the day. Also, I have just become a Dad for the first time and I like to spend time with my son Shahan in the evenings, but still, I get up in the early morning every day to practise with my instrument.

You have just announced your own musical instrument, the “Meditation Guitar”. It is said to combine the best of the “Hawaiian guitar and the traditional Indian Sarod”. What, to you, are these distinct qualities your new instrument has?
The shape and size of the goatskin sound box, and the number of strings - which are played with a buffalo horn plectrum - gives a depth and resonance to the sound, and the use of the metal slide technique allows me to bend, manipulate and extend the notes.

When and how did the idea for developing the Meditation Guitar evolve?
In childhood I started playing the Hawaiian Guitar and was continuing to learn Indian classical music but then several years ago when I had come to know much more about and appreciate this music, I then felt dissatisfied with the limitations of the Hawaiian guitar. So, I designed my new instrument.

Is the Meditation Guitar amplified? And would you consider playing it through effect pedals to extend on its timbral range?
No, my instrument is entirely acoustic and I do not feel it appropriate to use pedals in that way.

Will it be possible for other musicians to buy the instrument? 
At present I am not willing to sell my instrument to others. However, when I have made my instrument more popular through my own performances and CDs I would hope both to make it available on the market and also to teach others how to play it.

There are already a couple of promising audio extracts from your recordings available from your site. Are there any plans of releasing a full length album featuring the Meditation Guitar anytime soon? 
I have already recorded 2 full length, 1 hour CDs. These are currently available only through my website meditation or locally in Udaipur. I am planning to make further recordings soon and would like to find a commercial label.

You are already performing live on a regular basis. What can potential listeners expect from your performance? 
When I perform I enter that state called flow wherein there is no separation between me and the music I am playing – they become as one and my playing is seemingly effortless. I hope that those listening to my music will also be transported to that silent inner space within themselves where there is no separation between them and the music.

On a more general basis: What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage? 
I look forward very much to performing and am not nervous about the prospect. I think this is because when I am playing well I do achieve an almost meditative state. If I reach this state I can be assured I have given a good performance.

Ragas seem to be important to your repertoire. What attracts you to them?
Ragas are very much based on the times of day and the seasons of the year. Consequently there is a wealth of music that I can draw on and be in tune with the here and now of the particular time or season of my performance.

How important would you rate the raga still today in India to a new generation of music lovers and musicians. 
While the raga still remains very important in its own right, the influences of both Bollywood and Western music are strong. Many young musicians are experimenting with a fusion of styles.

Do your live programs differ substantially, when playing to a Western audience when compared to an Indian one? How, for example, did your performance go in Norway, probably not the most typical country to perform Indian Classical Music?
There is essentially no difference in my performance whether playing to an Indian or western audience. First I play for myself and always the aim is that both my audience and I reach the meditative state.

You’re a painter and a musician. How would you weight the relative importance of these two disciplines to you personally?
Both are important. My painting provides me with a living. But, if someone were to say to me the world will end in five years, you have one choice – music or painting – then I would definitely choose music.

Dou you see the two arts of painting and playing music as complimentary in any way?  Painting and music are two different mediums but through both I try to achieve the same end – to access and express the deepest part of myself.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would
be on your program?

I love Indian classical music. However if given a completely open brief I would want to bring together musicians from different countries to perform classical music from their own tradition.

By Tobias Fischer

Romantic Moments

Shariq Parvez

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