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Minu Bakshi pays tribute to Federico García Lorca

The singer added fusion to Spanish poems and added Indian classical sargam while singing them as songs. The Embassy of Spain organised the event to celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

In 1931, when FedericoGarciaLorca travelled through Spain in search of popular music for his poems, no one knew that more than 90 years later, his poems would get an Indian classical touch. But thanks to the Embassy of Spain, music lovers in Delhi could go back in time and enjoy the works of this Spanish poet.

To mark India’s 75 years of independence, the Embassy of Spain kicked-off the nationwide celebrations. The embassy chose folk singer Minu Bakshi to recreate the magic of Federico’s poems. The singer took this opportunity to pay her tribute to the renowned poet and fused the authentic Spanish music with the Indian sargram.

The embassy’s choice for this collaboration came after it learnt about Minu’s background as a Spanish professor.

She shared, “The Spanish Embassy knew I sing ghazals and Punjabi folk songs. So, when they decided to collaborate with the Indian ministry under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Spanish ambassador requested me to sing Federico’s work. He knew that I teach Spanish and am aware about Federico’s work. That's how it all started.”

Minu sang 10 of Federico’s poems. Though the beats remained Spanish and the flamenco feeling was kept alive, she added sargam of the songs as an element of fusion.

“The idea was to add a classical touch to the original composition, without compromising the original Spanish flavour. It was important to keep the balance,” she adds.

Before adding classical music to the performance, Minu took no stone unturned to learn the basics of the poet’s works. Despite studying Federico as a student, she confessed that she wasn’t aware about his poems till she was chosen for the event. So, she took upon herself to study his original poems carefully. For this, she referred to the original recording to understand the poems’ meaning.

The original composition also enabled her to learn about the beats, pause(s) and emotions with which Federico recited the poems. This helped her to replicated these transitions while singing.

Minu also added several transitions in the songs. Talking about some that were made at the time of preparation she said, “In the original recording, Lorka played the piano. We kept the melody as it was, but being an Indian, we changed the entire feel of the poems. We also added classical fusion music. That is why, we also used table instead of castanets.”

However, transitioning Spanish music to Indian classical fusion was a daunting task. The traditional Spanish language made it difficult for her to understand the meaning of the poems.

“Since Federico recorded the poems long ago, most of the words were in the language spoken by the people living in that era. It was not in modern Spanish. Understanding their meaning was an issue. Then, fitting all the words while singing also became a task because the poems were recited in one go. But here, we were adding music to them. So, memorising the lyrics took me some time,” she said.

The singer took upon the task wholeheartedly and practiced the songs day and night. “I’ve been sleeping, eating and living these songs for about a month now and practicing every afternoon for about three hours for the last 15 days,” she said.

Minu Bakshi performed the event at Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi. She added the melody on the tunes of Sahil Vasudev on the piano and Ghulam Sabir Khan on the tabla.

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