‘My Video Playlist’ with Kousic Sen
His role includes teaching at the weekly Arts School, performances in Milapfest concerts around the UK and his position as Percussion Conductor for Samyo and Tarang.
Born into a musical family, Kousic is the proud representative of the Banaras Gharana and is one of the foremost tabla players of his generation.
He has accompanied many notable musicians and dancers throughout India and is a regular participant in major music festivals around the world, having toured extensively in USA, Canada, Europe and South and East Asia.
Kousic has also collaborated with musicians from other traditions, working with Western, Cuban, Indonesian, Persian and Spanish musicians.
As a performer, Kousic Sen is a tabla player whose intense and energetic performances add a new dimension to the traditional concert experience. His rhythmic mastery has become known around the globe through his performances with leading musicians in many of the world’s most famous venues.
Milap’s Artistic Director, Alok Nayak sat down with Kousic to find out about the musicians and tracks that have inspired him during his career and those that continue to influence him to this day.
A: What is the concert, recording or track you listen to the most?
K: I listen to this concert recording the most; a full concert recording of one of the great Tabla players, Ustad Nizamuddin Khan.
A: Why this one in particular?
He was considered equally great in the classical field as well as in his playing with Laggi and Thumri – ‘Light Classical’ accompaniment – and people thought of him as a really top notch player, and had the capacity to play both at a very high level. This is a solo Tabla performance.
A: Which artists do you watch for inspiration? What do you like about those tracks / artists / concerts?
K: This one is a recording of Pandit Biru ji Mishra. He was a great Tabla player who was not very well known. None the less, I would recommend all Tabla enthusiasts listen to this.
This was the only recording publicly available of him. Nowadays you would notice just how many players have followed his style and his approach – he was a great Tabla player from the Benares Gharana.
A: Can you recommend a Tabla track that inspires you the most?
K: Pandit Samta Prasad ji is a great inspiration for me. He is one of the stalwarts of the Banaras style of play. The first live concert I listened to in Kolkata was one of his concerts.
A: Why does this inspire you so much?
K: The first live concert I listened to was one of his, so this is a nostalgic choice, but hearing him was eye opening for me as a performer. Listen out for the clarity and sound of his hand movements, his preparation, speed and the quality of his playing. Later on I managed to become close to him and received his blessings!
A: Can you share any South Indian percussion tracks or concerts which you like?
K: My favourite percussion artists from south Indian style are Palghat R Raghu ji And G. Harishankar ji.
It’s amazing as a Hindustani Percussionist for me to listen to Carnatic percussion. I heard their playing at a young age, and I was struck by their musicality, sound, quality of playing – all unparalleled!
A: Tell us about another percussionist from outside the Indian genre that you like?
K: Bernard Rich, also known as Buddy Rich, was an amazing drummer; everyone should listen to him.
A: Can you share a video which demonstrates a great interaction between two artists on stage, something that inspires you?
K: This is a great interaction between Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty ji and Pandit Arvind Parekh ji.
Listening to this interview, I was struck by the amazing variety of repertoire that Ajoyda can sing, talk about and explain; this is an amazing resource for students, or anyone who wants to learn more from one of the greatest teachers of Indian music in conversation with the master musician, Arvind Parekh ji.
A: Recommend a great vocal music concert or recording.
K: This is an amazing vocal recording is of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.
A legendary musician of India – guru of Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty – there was no one like him! His legacy will go forever; I think people will be listening to him for 50 years!
A: Can you share a concert or recording from non-Indian music that inspires you?
K: I love this concert video of BB King at the Royal Albert Hall.
If you know about him, there’s nothing more I can say about BB King! I listen to a lot of other tracks of his too.
A: Can you share some videos of your guru and and tell us about it?
K: My guru is Pandit Kumar Bose ji. This is a recording of his interview and concert.
He talks about his training, gharana, and it’s really informative and inspirational! He plays some rare compositions at the end of the interview. By the way, he also plays a piece of Pandit Biru ji Mishra, whom I talked about earlier – so you can see how the knowledge and ideas are passed on!
A: And one from your colleagues or contemporaries in Kolkata?
K: This is a concert of two friends of mine from Kolkata. Pandit Parimal Chakrabarty and Pandit Arup Chattopadhay.
These two artists are friends of mine; we were all brought up together, learned, played and developed our careers together. I was at this concert with my family so it’s a really happy and nostalgic memory for me. They are students of Pandit Shankar Ghosh ji.
Find out more about Kousic Sen on his Artist in Residence page here.