Interview

Merope about Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

Classical Indian music has always been a big influence for Western musicians. This mostly improvised, melodic music left a mark on the music of icons like John and Alice Coltrane, Miles Davis, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. The deep vibe resonating in this music, you will find nowhere else. Granvat, Bozar and Subbacultcha invited the master of Indian music: Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. Bert Cools, Indre Jurgelevicute and Jean Christophe Bonnafous from the alternative world band Merope explain their connection to this living legend of the Bansuri flute.

Text by Bert Cools & Sofie Steenhaut
Photo Merope by Felipe Pipi

Bert: I was lucky to get to know the music of Hariprasad Chaurasia through Jean, his disciple and good friend of mine. Since then I’ve got to know a lot more about the whole Indian music tradition.

Jean: Hariprasad is an endless source of inspiration to me. He has spent all his life deeply immersed into music, and this is reflected in his personality. I decided to dive into music the first very moment I heard him playing his Bansuri, it was just magical.

Almost 95% is totally improvised, catching the beauty of the moment

Indre: Hearing the recordings of Hariprasad in my small town in Lithuania many, many years ago gave me a strong wish to learn more about this music. This inspired me to leave my country and follow his classes in Rotterdam. That’s how I met Bert and Jean. This legendary musician shines a light from the inside and inspired so many people around the world.

B: Indian music has a tradition that is taught orally, so no papers, no books, nothing. Only by playing and listening to a guru for many years can you learn this deep knowledge. The music has amazing melodic lines and almost 95% is totally improvised, catching the beauty of the moment.

We always try to capture the essence of Hariprasad’s music

B: Through Jean, we had the honor to record a solo album by Hariprasad on granvat, a platform founded by my brother and me. It is still one of my favorite releases. I’m also very happy we were able to invite Hariprasad to Bozar. Although he is turning 80 this year, he is still playing concerts all over the world with full passion. Since Jean is now living in India, we all meet up there once a year. We always take some time to go to the school of Hariprasad where he teaches dedicated students almost every day.

J: Even though our music is very different, we always try to capture the essence of Hariprasad’s music in our compositions and improvisations; a connection to our deep selves translated into sounds.

Hariprasad Chaurasia plays at BOZAR, May 12. This show is free for members. Become a member here.