Top music collaborations between India and the World

Published on: 24 Apr, 2017

Music is no longer about sitting in a siloed studio and strumming away to glory, for it has taken a new form of shared talents and global reach. As Indian artistes set up ties with global musicians and artistes, a refreshing new style has emerged that blends the best of the East and the West, the results bowling over the music aficionado. Here are the top 10 musical collaborations between India and the world.

1. Sitar maestro, Pundit Ravi Shankar: Credited with taking Indian music to the global stage, he pioneered the concept of world music in India. Establishing cross-cultural collaborations with musicians from the West was a successful experiment in the advancement of Indian classical music, giving it a western twist. He worked with the likes of Yehudi Menuhin, Jean-Pierre Louis Rampal, and Philip Glass. He also recorded a project called ‘Passages’ with Philip Glass, a medley of melodies and compositions.

2. Tabla ace, Zakir Hussain: Another musical whizz with a penchant for international acclaim, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee Zakir Hussain was responsible for spearheading collaborations on a scale that were unheard of. It was way back in 1991 that Planet Drum happened under the Global Drum Project, it won him the Grammy Award for the ‘Best World Music Album’. This was an innovative work that brought together the musical genius of Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo and himself. He was also the founding member of Bill Laswell's 'World Music Supergroup' Tabla Beat Science and Moment Records.

3. L. Subramaniam for Indo-Jazz: It was in the early 1970s, that Subramaniam spurred a new movement called ‘Neo-fusion’. A host of albums were composed and released - Fantasy without Limits, Blossom, Spanish Wave, Conversations, Indian Express, and Mani and Co. He worked extensively with the likes of Stephane Grappelli, George Duke, Tony Williams, Larry Coryell and others. Later, KARMA emerged as one of the most popular Indo-Jazz band with musicians like tabla maestro Subhen Chatterjee, Lew Hilt (India's best known bassist) and Amyt Dutta, one of India's best jazz guitarist.

4. AR Rahman for world music: Aptly called the Mozart of India, Isai Puyal or the Musical storm, Rahman is the perfect example of modern musical alliances. A foreign education from the Trinity School of London, coupled with a firm foundation in classical music has led him to weaving together medleys of international acclaim. He has worked with several international artists, the latest being the music of ‘Muhammad: The Messenger of God’ (2015) along with a Palestinian musical band Le Trio Joubran. Other latest contributions include Million Dollar Arm with Iggy Azalzea, Kendrick Lamar and People Like Us with Liz Phair.

5. Sunidhi Chauhan-Enrique Iglesias: The singing diva from India and Spanish sensation pooled together their talents to compose the Indian version of Heartbeat, a song that found its way to the special Indian edition of his album Euphoria. Sunidhi plays a 50% contribution to the outcome and represents one of the new-age collaborations in music.

6. Sonu Nigam-Britney Spears: The joint musical number, “I Wanna Fly “actually flew high and mighty, thanks to the Hindi flavour rendered by Sonu Nigam. A romantic number that hit the charts, it was a classic case of mix-and-match.

7. The Dewarists: Collaborations need not be restricted to individual musicians, as is proven by the musical television series, the Dewarists, a TV series that casts global musicians. The first season wowed the audience with a theme of musical-inspired journeys. We saw players such as Imogen Heap, Vishal-Shekhat, Zeb and Haniya, Mohit Chauhan, Papon, Shubha Mudgal, Raghu Dixit and others. Inspired by Tommy Dewar’s philosophy of "Some things are worth doing", it is a movement with an international flavour about living your passion.

8. Africa meets India: A unique convergence of classical Indian raga melody and traditional Zimbabwean mbira song is seen in the “Afrika meets India” movement, which capitalizes on the talents of many Indian and international artists- Eric Fraser, Kevin Hylton, Abhik Mukherjee, Salieu Suso, Naren Budhakar and Giancarlo Luiggi. It reflects a flavour of celebrating musical traditions together while being guided by the spirit of spontaneous improvisation.

9. Brooklyn Raga Massive, NYC: A gathering that started in 2011 with an intent to encourage Indian classical musicians to embrace forward-thinking while being rooted in Indian classical music, Raga Massive is known for its weekly Indian Classical Music Jam. It provides a platform for upcoming Indian classical talent to embrace world-class music. Its objective is to go beyond the conventional, through associations with a larger music community.