On preserving traditions and languages

Traditions are culture and not a way of closing oneself, believes French composer Thierry Pecou.

By Author  |  Published: 13th Aug 2018  9:22 pm
preserving traditions
French composer Thierry Pecou.

“With a good number of languages dying across the world, many ways to preserve them can be explored” says the 52-year-old French composer Thierry Pecou.

“Some traditions have been lost, and above all, languages are being lost…we live in a period, when the industrial and the post-industrial world is destroying many aspects of life, to start with, the natural environment, biological species, etc. I believe that preserving traditions should be a way to educate people to take care of what life has given to them.”

“The best way to keep tradition alive is to give it a chance to exchange and meet foreign traditions,” he adds.

This year, Pecou performed at Bonjour India, a four-month-long event celebrating Indo-French partnership, where he presented an ensemble in collaboration with Indian artistes, specially crafted for Indian audiences. The composer had to make an effort to know about the country’s music from books and recordings to prepare for this performance.

“I was conscious about how different Indian and Western music styles were. But what I found very interesting is that, (the way) Hindustani musicians fix most of the material they play. It takes a lot of rehearsal time to write what they play, while the writing process in Western music is the domain of the composer and is made in a solitary way by the composer,” Pecou adds.
In the piece he writes, he left spaces for the Indian musicians to fit in and “to create a dialogue of ensemble variances”.

“I thought the Indian musicians would improvise but they actually fixed almost everything.”
In his attempt to present a soothing melange and to help the two kinds of musicians perform with the same amount of strength, Pecou had to use some raga scales for his music to minimise the difference.

“My style is a heritage of the French tradition that goes from (Claude) Debussy to Henri

Dutilleux (French composers), which gives importance to colour, and lets me import and transform traditions from across the world,” he explains.

“Being in India takes you back to the essence of the diversity of life. I never had this feeling in such a strong way elsewhere in the world,” he stresses.