Magazine article Guitar Player

Surinder Sandhu's Indian Fusion

Magazine article Guitar Player

Surinder Sandhu's Indian Fusion

Article excerpt

"I think the guitar is the perfect companion for Indian music," says U.K.-based composer Surinder Sandhu. "It has everything--including harmony and rhythm. Indian instruments are predominantly monotonal and melodic, so the two complement each other very well."

Both of Sandhu's CDs, 2003's SauRang Orchestra and 2004's Cycles and Stories [available from resonator-records.com], offer a fresh and inventive take on the Indian fusion genre popularized by Oregon and John McLaughlin's Shakti. At the albums' core are Sandhu's virtuoso performances on the sarangi, a violin-like North Indian classical instrument. The music also has its roots in the Indian raga, a systematic melodic form that features combinations of notes designed to evoke distinct atmospheres, moods, and emotions. Sandhu's albums make the combination of Indian classical music, jazz, rock, and symphonic elements sound seamless, but getting them to work together poses unique challenges.

"The very strict ascending and descending scales of ragas can create great problems when you're trying to make chords and progressions," he explains. "So, melodically, I take things from ragas, but the harmonic structures come from the Western side of the equation. There's also the issue of playing very particular Indian scales and emphasizing certain notes that are characteristic to ragas."

Renowned players that have contributed to Sandhu's recordings include guitarists Steve Vai, Peter Brown, and Roland Chadwick; saxophonists George Brooks and Andy Sheppard; and members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. …

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