Jonas: There are two types of classical music—there is western classical, and Indian classical. Indian classical music in its true form has a history that spans millennia’s. Western music can possibly be traced back five or six hundred years, but Indian classical music goes back thousands of years. It’s a highly, highly developed music. It contains very developed aspects that are not as developed in western music. In western music, we’re really conscious about harmony and form, but our understanding of rhythm is very basic. Melody as well is never really explained in a serious way in western music. And in Indian music, of course you have unbelievable amounts of disciplined rhythms. There are two separate forms, you have the Hindu standard music which is Northern, and you have the Carnatic music which is South Indian. The Carnatic music might be more rhythmically developed then the North. It’s unbelievable, and anybody who’s truly interested in music should study it, because whatever music you’re playing, you’ll begin to understand rhythm in a totally different light. The other thing of course is melody and ornamentation, which is so, so deep, and incredible in Indian music. It’s very hard to learn, and study. It empowers you. It’s not just about playing Indian music really, it’s about learning those aspects of music that we don’t really have in the West on the same level.
Jake: I’d be interested to hear a little about your compositional process, as I know you’ve spent some time fusing the South Indian classical music with jazz.
Jonas: Composition for me happens in the moment. I don’t sit down and work stuff out really, I just get an idea. I don’t really know from where, it just comes in my head. There are two different things happening. I study, by analyzing material, and working it out in my brain—what would happen if you do this, and this, and that? But that is not what music becomes in the end. What becomes the music is just the stuff that enters my brain all of a sudden. I hear this idea, and that becomes the piece of music. It’s pretty much complete once I get the idea. To understand that, you might think about it this way; it’s like a language. If you study a new language, you don’t really know how to express yourself. But once you mastered the language, you don’t have look in a dictionary or a grammar book to be able to put your sentences together… you just speak. If you study a long time, and work on it, you’ll then make the language your own. You just have to know your musical language, so when you want to say something, you don’t have to think about what you’re saying, you just express the content or the subject of what’s your sentence is in musical terms.
Jake: With all of these different musical influences, where do you go when you’re in clinician mode?