One has to realize one is a lifetime learner- Giuliano Modarelli

Originally from Italy, Giuliano Modarelli is a virtuosic guitarist unique in his style. During his early musical training and throughout his research and experience, he has explored many different genres of music leading him to develop a unique, hybrid style which is now instantly recognizable in his sound.Having studied Jazz at University, he went on to develop through the Indian Classical tradition and his unique and exceptionally innovative style is a subtle blend of Arabic, Flamenco, Latin and European Folk. His breadth of knowledge and soulful improvisation make for compelling listening and viewing.
 
How did your tryst with Indian classical music happen?
 
I was exposed to Indian classical music as a child .I had records of Indian classical music. I always had an interest in Asian music in general. When I was in college I had a module on Indian classical music. I was very fortunate to have Jesse Banister and Dharmveer Singh as my teachers. By the end of the third year they asked me to join their band.
 
I came to India and met more musicians. I met Shamik Dutta who introduced me to Protyush Banerjee and Pt Buddhadev Dasgupta who are my gurus and took care of my formal training.
 
Do you think Indian music is the 'in thing' globally now?

I think it is a very rooted tradition and quite conservative but there is a lot of scope for experimentation. The west has strong interest in this music because it is an improvised art form. Then, the Bollywood industry has brought in the more commercial side of music which has made people take a closer look into Indian classical music. Then masters like Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussian surely have done a lot of groundwork in popularizing Indian classical music abroad. InEurope there is a massive Indian community who has brought this music to the west. There is more awareness now; one can find dancers learning Kathak, jazz musicians learning ragas and talas. 
 
How did you run into the idea of playing Indian raga music on the guitar? Did you face any particular challenges when you began experimenting with this unique idea?
 
I did a module in Indian Classical music when I was doing my jazz degree, and I felt very inspired and connected with many of the concepts. Also the work of John Mclaughlin with Shakti was definitely of great inspiration for me. 
 
I would say that the all process of learning Indian Classical music on the guitar, it’s all together a big challenge. The guitar was not design for this music so there is much that it can't be done but just implied (like shrutis - microtones-) but this is a challenge that you will always find when you are trying something different.  You will meet endless compromises and limitations but you can also discover innovations. 

What has been the most satisfying project so far for you?
 
I have a project called Kefaya. It is most interesting in terms of my music research. It is an international group of musicians conceived and led by me and pianist Al MacSween. Since 2011, we have been exploring global folk traditions through improvization, electronics and contemporary influences. The sound results from a deep understanding of different musical traditions as well as extensive collaborations with artists from around the world.
 
Your word of advice for aspiring musicians?

Practise a lot. Listen to music. You have to be focussed. One has to realize one is a lifetime learner. Get rid of ego and fears. You have nothing to lose.

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