“Bollywood Gharana” is a deliberate paradox, rather like “Rock and Roll Symphony”. Teed Rockwell has created a new gharana (musical style) combining classical Indian ragas with Bollywood filmi music. He performs this music on a newly customized instrument called the touchstyle veena, which has a guitar-like fretboard played by tapping the strings simultaneously with both hands.
Hindustani Classical Music
Teed Rockwell had over a hundred classes in Hindustani Classical Music with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and also studied extensively with Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pandit Habib Khan, and Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. He is the first person to play Indian Classical Music on the Touchstyle Veena, a customized version of the instrument known as the Chapman Stick. After years of practice and performance, he has developed a style which adapts the deep and profound nuances of the Hindustani tradition to this brand new instrument. His playing reveals that the touchstyle veena is capable of both preserving and extending one of the world’s richest and most expressive musical genres. In fact, many Indians have said that hearing ragas played on the touchstyle veena gave them a greater appreciation of their own traditional music. “For me, ragas are the most complete music of all”, says Rockwell, “They have the intellectual subtlety of quantum physics, the spiritual profundity of the Vedas, and the heartfelt emotion of a lover’s cry. So much of our art and music separates these elements. A great performance of a raga brings all of them together in a single moment.”
Raga-inspired Filmi Tunes
Featuring the music of Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire, Lagaan, Taal) and a selection of older classic Bollywood tunes
Bollywood Gharana interprets popular Indian filmi tunes using the traditions and techniques of Indian classical music. “I see this as a new application of a method first developed by the great American Jazz musicians, who would transform the popular tunes of the day into new improvised compositions,” Says Rockwell, “I’ve selected classic and contemporary Bollywood tunes which are based on traditional ragas, and develop them as if they were traditional melodic ‘ghats’. Both Indians and Westerners often find that hearing these interpretations creates a bridge to greater love and appreciation of Indian Classical Music.”