In part 1, we learned that Jesus prefers the music of Hindus. In part 2, the members of Aradhna dissect the creative process.
Al: A question for all of you: What are the two biggest differences between Indian music and the types of Western music incorporated in Aradhna–and in musical terms, where do the two converge?
Chris: In Indian classical music, strictly speaking, you have melody and rhythm and then a drone underneath the whole thing with no harmony. With Pete showing up on guitar, he completely reinterprets both the melodies and rhythms that are introduced to him from India, hearing them from his own perspective, and creating something utterly new–a true fusion.
Al: How much of that fusion is a conscious process during composition, and how much of it is just letting ideas flow and putting your minds and instruments together?
Pete: Most of it comes out of experimenting with different moods on the guitar. A completely major sounding melody can be put to a minor chord progression and it completely changes the feel. There are a lot of false starts and going back to the beginning to try it again
Al: Are you talking about the group, or just you?
Pete: When Chris and I compose.
Al: Have you discarded ideas because they were either too Western or too Eastern?
Pete: I don’t think so. We mainly discard stuff because it is not working out, or one of us is dissatisfied with it.
Chris: I wouldn’t say that is the criteria. It just has to sound really good to our ears, and our ears embrace a large variety of music and also reject a lot of styles as unappealing.
Chris: If Pete plays a chord that sounds too much like we’re about to kick into an Indian jazz standard loosely based on a raga, it gets rejected by both of us, even before he’s had time to think of the next chord.
Al: I’m trying to imagine Chris being dissatisfied with something Pete has done. I can’t do it.
Pete: That is very kind
Al: I mean, I can imagine him not being happy, I just can’t imagine him expressing a negative feeling. Sorry, Pete.
Pete: He is getting better at that
Al: Have you ever seen Chris get angry?
Chris: I’ve been working real hard to express my displeasure of late. Even Jim’s been tasting it. Everyone’s rubbing off on me. It’s a good thing.
Al: Glad to hear it. And I’m glad it’s now and not back when we were at Berklee. Because by all rights, you should have kicked my ass a hundred times over. I was such a dick.
The musical interplay between you all is both intense; it flows almost supernaturally. How does the intensity of the music carry over into your personal relationships? When the show is over, do you ascend to a higher plane, or are y’all just regulah guys?
Pete: Incredibly regular.
Chris: Since Jim showed up, yes.
I think one thing we learned, maybe two years ago now, was that on stage, we needed to bring more of that reality, so we introduced a little banter in between songs–to lighten things up. It was all getting so intense that folks were not even sure if they should applaud between songs.
In the final chapter, we enter the realm of the spiritual.