Scotland Meets India – How A Scottish Guitarist Uniquely Incorporated Indian Classical & Folk Music

Simon Thacker and his group, Svara-Kanti
Simon Thacker and his group, Svara-Kanti

India is a cultural melting pot of several artistic expressions. Our rich and diverse history has laid the fundamental foundation of our roots and traditions. While this digital era has granted us the blessing of consuming art and stories from around the globe, it has also somehow steered us away from appreciating our indigenous craft. But every once a while there comes a modern reinterpretation that rejuvenates our interest and makes us see things differently.

Simon Thacker is a Scottish composer, classical guitarist, improviser and ensemble leader. Simon’s startlingly original music has propelled many traditions forward and created a new frontier for classical guitar. His pieces have been played on radio in over 50 countries. As an educator, he has been classical guitar tutor at Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh College for over a decade. He has performed as a soloist with many orchestras, including the RSNO. Why should you know about him? Well, his brand of music remarkably incorporates Indian classical in the most inventive of ways.

“I see my music as forging a third direction beyond East and West, genuinely of itself,” says Simon. His recent album, Trikala, is a stunning double album which features 13 leading musicians from Baul, Carnatic, Punjabi folk and Hindustani music traditions. Created and recorded over three years, in three locations (East Lothian in Scotland, and Chennai and Kolkata in India), Simon Thacker’s third release creates new sound worlds through his immersion in Indian classical, folk and spiritual traditions. Trikala is also the Sanskrit word for the three tenses of time, past, present and future.

Mesmerised by the improvisational flow of Indian classical, Simon couldn’t help but reinterpret the sounds in his own way. In a time of digital audio workstations, Simon’s work will rekindle your love and appreciation behind the craft and art of actually playing music, “I sometimes feel the music is playing itself, as if there’s a higher power at work. It’s a sublime experience.” Simon also emphasises on the superficial nature of contemporary music, and how it’s lack of depth often leaves the listener empty. He concludes, “As a race, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. I want to add more human elements to enhance the spiritual component of my work. I want the listener to experience the emotion. I want to move people with my music.”

If you liked Simon’s work, check out his website.

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