By Elizabeth Doyle
Dhevdhas Nair is a musician you really have to hear to believe. (You can sample or buy an album here: http://www.dhevdhasnair.com/id9.html)
To read Part One first, click here
Me: Are you a spiritual person? Does religion or spirituality play any role in your compositions?
He: Not in a formal sense. Although I have been on several Buddhist retreats from various traditions and teachers, I don’t see myself as belonging to any particular religion. If anything, the Deer Park near my home on Dartmoor, with its magnificent trees is my cathedral. Having said that, when I create music, I feel such a sense of ……how do I describe it? Love, emotion, reverence. Every time I listen back to the compositions, I get the same supercharged feelings of the importance of creating beauty in the world and it moves me very strongly. And I feel that same charge while I am working on the music. I guess you could call it a spiritual state of mind.
Me: I know that you borrow musical traditions from different parts of the globe. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what you feel some of the musical strengths of different corners of the world are?
He: My father had an amazing music collection, from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner (not so much my cup of tea!) and Indian classical music, to the Beatles. Early on, I discovered jazz, and fell completely in love with North Indian classical music, initially ragas and folk and light classical music played on the flute. Its hard to say what moves me about music from different parts of the world. I seem to go through different phases as I pass through my own different phases of life.
When I was about 14 I found a cassette in my local library of a field recording made in the 1930s of a group of Australian Aboriginal men singing. It had a profound effect on me. Here was music that spoke of a world so utterly different from my own, yet which had universal qualities of a delicate, achingly beautiful humanity that reached across the ages and opened my eyes and ears to a timeless, eternal song of life.
As a teenager and young man, I got into African music, mostly West African hi-life. I found it expressed so well the sheer exuberance and joy of life, and was so danceable. I played with various African bands for many years, in Europe and Africa. I was in a band called Sankomota that had a number one album in the black music charts in South Africa before the end of Apartheid. We were actually banned in the country, but our album went to number one and eventually the ban was lifted and we went to play to 25,000 people in Jabulani Stadium in Soweto. I used to love it that people danced when we played. Then I spent time studying Indian music and turned to the more contemplative, poetic side of music – music that paints pictures of stillness, beauty in nature, and the delicacies and vulnerabilities of human emotions. Next I developed skills in the language of jazz which fortuitously had the capacity to absorb and contain all the previous musical strands of my life. Within the freedom of jazz I found I could draw upon those influences from India, Africa, Europe, and South East Asia.
In today’s super connected world, we can hear music from anywhere and everywhere, all clothed in the various colours of their respective cultures, but all pointing to the same truth, that music is as essential to human beings as food, water and shelter.
To be continued…
To go to part four, click here.
To order the album Inbetween and Passing by Dhevdhas Nair, if you live outside the UK, go to http://www.cdbaby.com/
In the UK, click here.
Top photo: © Dhevdhas Nair / Across the hill from the studio
Second photo: © Dhevdhas Nair / Street musician family in Mumbai
Third photo: © Tao Issaro /
Dhevdhas Nair at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai