Srdjan Beronja - The author of the book about the Indian tabla

"People are formed out of rhythm"


Igor Mihaljević

Serbian Daily DNEVNIK

June 21, 2009

DN: So, how did your relationship with music began? Tell us something about the very beginnings.


- In the childhood, I liked to pay attention on various sounds and to sing by inventing on-the-spot lyrics, according to that age. Later on, I sang in the school's choir and played briefly a bass guitar, but very soon after a drum kit and other percussions, as I felt the rhythm in its absolute. However, I used to listen Gipsy musicians from my neighborhood, as well as various traditional world music from the Middle East, India and the Balkans. So, I started to experiment with various percussion instruments in various music genres, in a way that the focus of my interest remained on tarabuk (darabuka) and the Indian Tabla.


DN: Perhaps your unusual choice caused unusual methods of studying?


- I have developed the technique of playing tarabuk (darabuka) by myself. Later on, I expanded that knowledge during my explorations in the Middle East, where this instrument is widely present. My wish was to play the Indian tabla. They, as well as darabuka, have a unique sound, while the technique of playing both instruments implies the use of fingers, what was for me the most adequate way of expressing. So when I was 24, I have moved to India where I have started serious study of the Indian tabla.


DN: Describe to us, how is it to study in India?


- Music education in India is achieved by a traditional, thousands of years old method 'guru-shishya-parampara', what in Sanskrit literally means 'teacher-student-succession'. My teachers were Vikas Tripathi along with Kailash Nath Mishra, son of the legendary tabla maestro Pt. Samta Prasad. From them I have gained the knowledge, which I have developed later on by traveling and researching thousands of kilometers through India and during my stay in Pakistan.


DN: How did your clash with the music of the East look like?


- Music of the East, where Serbia belongs with its large part, has its own uniqueness reflected in the intuition and in the honesty of emotions. The music of the Middle East bears within a great passion and it is based on quarter-tones, dynamic rhythm, while emphasis is on the melody. Indian music system is probably the most complex and its roots are driven from the Vedic knowledge. It is based on 'shruti' microtonal intervals and highly complex rhythmic structures. Facing with that kind of system forces you to develop your hearing sense due to which, music from some other parts of the world, as well as the one from the medieval Europe, sounds somewhat empty.

DN: From where did you get the idea of writing the book?


- When I got interested in tabla, there wasn't a person in Serbia who played them, neither literature of any kind could be found. Having the instrument itself was practically impossible as well. During my first visit to India, I haven't found an adequate literature in English language either. So, after six months of gathering notes, I came to the idea to write a comprehensive book that will be opened to everyone.


DN: Speaking from a proffesional standpoint, how the life of percussionists looks like? Which kind of problems are you facing in your world for example?


- Percussionists mostly have their role in some particular orchestra, ensemble or they are following some particular group or singer, while they are not leaving behind any of their own work. On the other hand, large number of them performs tiring rhythmic solos which are loosing conception. Music IS called 'sangeet' in Sanskrit, the term which is consolidated from two words: 'sam' meaning 'together' and 'geet' meaning 'song'. Therefore, meaning singing, playing together. Another problem comes from the general minimization of the role of percussion instruments in music, although the rhythm is even greater than the music itself. Everything around us is formed out of rhythm; the vibrations of molecules and atoms. Therefore, we are as well. This is the reason why we are swinging to the rhythm and playing music, as in this way we are unifying, merging with that universal vibration.

- Igor Mihaljević

(Serbian Daily DNEVNIK & ZTZ Media)