Nehru's speech gave me goosebumps: Ted Nash

Grammy award winner Ted Nash talks about his inspirations, his award-winning album and more

swati

Swati Chandra | March 2, 2017 | New Delhi


#on a personal note   #musician   #Ted Nash   #Grammy awards  
Musician Ted Nash
Musician Ted Nash


American jazz musician Ted Nash has won this year’s Grammy for his album Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom for ‘Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album’ and the ‘Best Instrumental Composition’ for the composition Spoken At Midnight inspired by the Tryst with Destiny speech given by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Apart from Nehru, the album features speeches by 20th century leaders like Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Aung San Suu Kyi and John F Kennedy. Based in New York, Ted wishes to visit and perform in India.

 
When did you first come across Nehru’s famous oration and how?
 
I found Nehru’s wonderful oration after an internet search on the important speeches of the 20th century. The speech moved me and gave me goose bumps. 
 
How did the Tryst with Destiny speech inspire you?
 
I am a sucker for freedom. When I see a person or a country getting the freedom they deserve, that they have fought for, it moves me. My parents were civil rights activists and their struggle for human rights has always stayed close to my heart. The intensity of his expression in embracing India’s freedom from nearly 200 years of British rule, feels very powerful.
 
How did you conceive the unique idea of  the Presidential Suite?
 
An earlier work I composed for big band, Portrait in Seven Shades, dealt with paintings by master painters like Picasso and Van Gogh. I have always been inspired by great art, and that concept gave me fuel for creativity. For this more recent project I explored an idea I had been thinking about: to transcribe speeches for their actual pitches, creating the thematic material which I would later set into a context. As I began listening to potential speeches I noticed the ones that I chose were one that dealt with the theme of freedom.
 
Could you tell us, in lay terms, about the sort of musical improvisation you played with while working on Nehru’s and others’ speeches?
 
Improvisation is a vital part of jazz.For me jazz wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include improvisation. Speaking is also a form of improvisation. When we speak we have an idea and then we choose words and phrases to express that idea. We also improvise our intonation, the ups and downs of the tones, the cadence. Even if a speech is written in advance, as is the case with most political speeches, the speaker is still improvising the phrases, the spaces, the exclamations. There is so much music in the way we talk. In the case of Nehru he spoke in a very narrow space, like a third or fourth. The resulting material I got from his speech was contained to this small interval. Other speakers, like FDR [Franklin D Roosevelt], had phrases that leapt out over huge intervals. Each of these presented challenges in terms of creating a form in which to express these melodies. 
 
How does it feel to win Grammy?
 
I am very happy to be recognised by the Academy and also my peers in the music business. It is an honour. I hope that this recognition will help bring about more opportunities to be creative. 
 
What will be your next project?
 
I have many ideas. I am not sure which will be my next, but I will hopefully get to all of them. So much to do and so little time! 
 
Have you read or followed the speeches of other Indian leaders, say Gandhiji, Indira Gandhi, Vajpayee? 
 
I have read some of Gandhi’s works, and he is certainly one of the most inspiring people of all time. There is still so much for me to explore with regard to India’s rich culture and history and I look forward to that exploration.
 
 
(The interview appears in the March 1-15, 2017 issue of Governance Now)
 

Comments

 

Other News

“If the oppn is weak you can’t blame the govt for that”

A three-term Rajya Sabha member, Sanjay Raut is the Shiv Sena spokesperson and its voice in parliament. He is also the executive editor of Marathi newspaper Samana, started by Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Raut spoke with Geetanjali Minhas on his party’s seat-sharing agreement

Ashish Shelar of BJP says, “We are very confident of victory”

Ashish Shelar, 47, was the president of the Mumbai city unit of the BJP, before he became the minister of school education, sports and youth welfare in the Maharashta government this year. He has represented the Vandre West constituency in the state assembly and seeking re-election. In a chat with

Nobel for economics goes to `global fight against poverty`

The Nobel Prize in economics for 2019 goes to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty." The prize, known as “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”, was announc

Modi-Xi script a new chapter in bilateral relations

Prime minister Narendra Modi has accepted president Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit China in 2020 for their third informal summit after Wuhan and Mamallapuram, indicating both sides’ realization of the importance of the mechanism which gives the two leaders of the Asian giants an opportunity t

Dharma as the original Idea of India

Dharma: Hinduism and Religions in India By Chaturvedi Badrinath Edited by Tulsi Badrinath Penguin, 194+ xiii pages, Rs 499 How to live: That is the most fundamental question of human existence.

Prakash Ambedkar on why he wants other parties to mention the candidates’ community

Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar and popularly known as Balasaheb Ambedkar, heads the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA). The three-time MP founded this new political party last year with a vision of Ambedkarism, secularism, socialism and progressivism. The VBA, registered this year before the Lo



Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter