Vijay Iyer's "Entropy and Time"
Vijay Iyer’s “Entropy and Time”
(Play ~15 seconds of Sound Bite #1 [alapana], then hold under narration. Fade out entirely half-way into the final sentence of the first block of narration.)
TOMAL HOSSAIN = TH: Jazz composer-pianist Vijay Iyer’s track entitled “Entropy and Time” from the 2011 album, “Tirtha”, features a delicate balance between tradition and innovation. Iyer fuses his jazz piano chops with elements of Hindustani and Carnatic music, which are two major forms of South Asian classical music. Iyer is joined by Indian musicians R. Prasanna on guitar and Nitin Mitta on tablas, a pair of traditional South Asian hand drums. The musicians explore novel musical soundscapes and enrichen South Asian cultural identity along the way.
(Play ~30 seconds of Sound Bite #2 [anupallavi], then hold under the following narration. Crossfade into Sound Bite #3 through the course of the narration.)
TH: The musicians start out with a theme and variations over a pallavi. That’s a type of melodic refrain in Carnatic classical music. Out of this Carnatic influenced musical landscape, Iyer takes a solo that caters to fans of contemporary jazz.
(Fade up [backtime] Sound Bite #3 [piano solo] and allow to play for ~30 seconds, then hold under the following narration while crossfading between Sound Bites #3 and #4.)
After Iyer’s solo, Nittin Mitta dives into a laggi, which is a rapid string of unmetered, rhythmic patterns. As with a traditional Hindustani classical tabla solo, the rest of the trio plays the refrain as a lehra. That’s a melodic accompaniment to the tabla’s improvisation.
(Fade up [backtime] ~20 seconds of Sound Bite #4, then hold under the following narration.)
TH: 1960’s pioneers of Indo-Jazz often capitalized on mashing up Carnatic, Hindustani, and jazz music. Musical fusion involved overlapping disparate musical elements largely taken out of context. In contrast, the musicians on this track manage to experiment while staying true to traditional musical elements and structures. Their collaboration is a breath of fresh air from South Asians and those in the diaspora. In Amherst, MA I’m Tomal Hossain.
(Fade up [backtime] Sound Bite #4 once again for the last ~15 seconds of the track to play till its end.)