Eliana Burki: Creating waves
Eliana Burki from Switzerland plays the traditional Swiss instrument and belongs to a new wave of Alphorn players who are experimenting with the instrument, trying to extend its purpose beyond a mere symbol of Switzerland. She goes beyond the 12-note range of most players and uses the alphorn in a blues-funkjazz style.
Tell us about the unique instrument that you play.
I play a very traditional Swiss instrument, the Alpinehorn. It was a very important instrument before we had any means of communication. It was used as a communication instrument in the mountains.
What has your genre of music done to the world of music?
The Alpinehorn has the most beautiful sound in the world. I am glad I got the opportunity to play this unique instrument and make the audience experience this beautiful sound.
How does the world of music treat women musicians?
I am a very strong woman and I play an instrument which is normally played by men, hence I had to face some criticisms. But now as I am getting older and gaining experience, I feel that the respect is growing more every year.
Commonalities in differences
A prodigious sitar virtuoso creative enthusiasm has resulted in him crafting a truly zany and zestful sound in the form of a "zitar", a five stringed electronic, modernised version of the sitar. His open mind has led to an extension of his musical horizon to incorporate imaginative experiments in world music styles that delight the purist as well as the modernist.
You have collaborated with the most eclectic group of top musicians imaginable. What has been your experience?
The experience of collaborating and performing with the top musicians from across the globe has been a totally learning and enlightening experience in terms of not just music and culture but also of human relationships and variations in that. I owe my exposure in this regard to the greatest legend in Indian music tradition Ustad Zakir Hussain for almost taking me around as a toddler in music and showing me the amazing phenomenon in the world of sound . It seems like the journey has just started and it's going to go a long way into the future.
Tell us about the zitar
Zitar is essentially a electric sitar which happened almost more than a decade back and it was a result of my need to play a certain kind of music with certain instruments and also the result of my exposure to the various forms of music , instruments and sounds. It is quite heartening to see many sitar players and other instrumentalists following this trend now and it seems to be growing really fast. Hope and pray it is in the right direction as far as music is concerned and the essence of it in general.
According to you does fusion music emphasise our differences or does it embrace our commonalities?
The basis for fusion music is to find the commonalities in the differences but with love, respect admiration and knowledge of the alien tradition. Only then will emerge a newer dimension and colour to the existing ones only. It is of utmost importance that to do good fusion music the musician in question is a master in his or her form of music to adept easily and then make new bridges with the other form.
What according to you is the greatness of Indian classical music system?
Indian classical music is probably the oldest form and style of music on this planet since it's also a major part in Vedas and Hindu mythology. It has surely evolved over centuries but the very fact that till date it is being practised, taught and performed itself speaks for the strength, vastness, aesthetics, sensual and spiritual attributes which is simply incomparable with any other traditional art form. Also, India is the only place on this planet to have two distinct classical systems, the north Indian Hindustani system and the south Indian Carnatic system sustaining and co-existing together. Our classical music system is far greater than measur