Rang de Basant by Reena Esmail
“When I first learned Raag Basant, I was fascinated by how differently the sounds of spring are portrayed in Hindustani music than in the west. The tension between the shudh and tivra madhyam, the windy descent, seemed to evoke such different aesthetic associations than the ones I have learned through western music, and I wanted to explore how Basant would feel when laid into the western medium. The title is, of course, a play on the title of the film Rang De Basanti. Instead of giving this piece the color basanti (saffron), I wanted to “color” it with the aesthetic of Raag Basant.
The piece starts with large dense chords that change one note at a time, until they find their way slowly into Basant. This is followed by an excerpt from a short bandish in Basant, stylized so that it plays to the strengths of a western pianist. This builds and eventually which vanishes back into the dense chords, only to have a little bit of Basant bleed through at the end. -Reena Esmail”