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Maati Baani: ‘Music is A Powerful Medium for Peace’

The world music duo on reinventing their 2011 track ‘Karpur Gauram’ with 17 musicians from nine countries

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Jessica Xalxo May 08, 2020

Maati Baani's Nirali Kartik and Kartik Shah. Photo: Courtesy of artist

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Amidst uncertainty birthed by the COVID-19 pandemic, world music duo Maati Baani went back to their older compositions to offer new hope. Revisiting the comments under the YouTube video of their 2011 composition “Karpur Gauram,” the dyad–comprising Indian classical vocalist Nirali Kartik and composer/producer Kartik Shah–saw people leaving notes on how the track helped them calm down and find their inner peace. This led Maati Baani to reinvent their composition in a bid to inspire listeners to “hang on” till the passing of this globally unsettling phase.

Since this is a Maati Baani offering, collaboration was signature to all they did and Shah reached out to 17 musicians from nine countries (India, Italy, Israel, U.S.A., Switzerland, U.K., Argentina, Spain and Russia) currently under lockdown. “You can say I have a knack to find and connect the right artists for a project!” says Shah who composed and produced the latest collaborative rendition of Karpur Gauram.” Kartik and Akshat Parikh handled vocal duties while musicians Joel Eisenkramer, Govind Gawli, Adriano Piccioni, Anaar Desai Stephens, Ismel Leal Pich, Ligal Soffer, Jess Townsend, Jiro Yoshioka, Alisa Sadikova, Madhav Haridas, Amit Mishra, Tao Issaro, Franco Prosperi and Max Fellermann added to the body of the song. According to the duo, the track “depicts the totality of how nature has grappled humanity in just one strike.” The new version of “Karpur Gauram” was mixed and mastered by producer Devang Rachh.

“To band over the internet requires an immense amount of time and patience, and I have a complete map of the song before I start looking for musicians,” says Shah who has remotely worked with over 200 artists since 2012. Almost everyone involved instantly agreed and the team used various social media platforms to connect with and riff off one another. Shah shared a guideline for the remote production and the musicians recorded themselves. “A lot of the sound recordings were done on phones which were challenging to mix. But the most challenging [part] for me was to edit the video which took almost 10 days!” he shares.

It took another 10 days for the song to come together and Maati Baani’s central learning from the process was that music is a powerful medium for peace. “The community of musicians and artists is the most important community who can come together for a purpose without even knowing each other’s languages,” says vocalist Kartik. The duo also reveal that this rendition of  Karpur Gauram” was originally meant to be a minimal version featuring eight musicians, but Shah soon got carried away by the immense talent he chanced upon. “The thing I take pride in is that there are non-Indian musicians from other countries in the song who are playing Indian classical instruments,” he says.

As artists and the music industry at large adjust to the new normal, Maati Baani urges platforms to organize more paid, remote concerts amidst looming financial and creative volatility. Kartik also thinks it’s time for creators to be intrepid and inventive, taking matters into their own hands. “Musicians have to be aware of the new trends for gigging and also spend time in getting their music up on streaming platforms. Artists can also start doing paid private online gigs for families, corporates or fans,” she says. The vocalist also fears for folk artists who might not always be the most tech-savvy, which is where she thinks local, on-ground NGOs (such as folk-music focused Anahad Foundation) can play an instrumental role in aiding with expertise on how to set up alternative streams of income. As the creative community wonders when the live scene will open again and those privileged find solace in the luxury of stretching hours, Kartik says, “This is a bittersweet time for musicians and artists.” 

Watch the music video for “Karpur Gauram” below:

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