This sound installation is a response to resonances between the work of Robert Burns and 19th and 20th Century Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. As Burns is in Scotland, in Bengal Tagore is revered as a cultural hero. And, like Burns, he studied his country’s traditional musical forms.
Tagore was inspired by Auld Lang Syne to write the celebrated song Purano Sei Diner Kotha (‘Memories of Good Times’), whose melody is reminiscent of traditional Scots songs. In the installation, the two tunes are broken down into individual sung notes, each lasting a few seconds. These notes are recorded and edited in the order of the original songs, and replayed in sync.
Walking from one set of speakers to the other, the spectator goes on a journey between the two pieces, echoing the transfer of ideas, commodities and people between Scotland and Bengal since the 18th Century. The two tunes engage in a dialogue with one another that is at times harmonic and at times discordant, mirroring the relations between peoples that result from trade, travel and diplomacy. This creates a commemoration of the rich and sometimes tumultuous effect of bringing people of different nationalities together.
Developed in association with the University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, and the support of the Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (SCoTS) and Centre for Media and Culture at Edinburgh Napier University.
Vocal consultant: Taylor Wilson. Vocalists: Taylor Wilson, Payal Debroy, Andy Fraser, Soumya Dutta Roy. Grateful thanks to Keith Bird and May Mayberry, respectively, for their technical and graphics input.
Voice recording, outdoor speakers, wind-up stands. Dur: 19 mins, looped. Male and female versions.
The work was commissioned by and showed at the Burns Festival at the Old Feed Store in Belleisle Park, Ayr in May 2014.
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