When he was 10, Atma Anur saw his first druma��at a school show-and-tell. He remembers a classmate bringing a snare drum (a�?I guess it was for marching), which Anur then played the entire day. a�?Once I got back home, I announced to my family a�?I can play the drumsa�� and the rest, as they say, is history,a�? says the internationally-renowned drummer, who has recorded 145 CDs and played with artistes like percussionists Bill Summers (Herbie Hancock) and JosA� Chipito Areas (Santana), among others, in his over-four-decade-long career.
Currently at the Swarna-bhoomi Academy of Music (SAM)a��having joined their faculty of international artistesa��Anur is not someone who pays much attention to a�?transienta�� trends. Like EDM, which he feels doesna��t even need to be acknowledged. What he feels more passionately about is developing original music and improving its quality.
Art of learning
According to the 55-year-old, there are more people playing music today, but the quality of musicians has dropped. a�?Every generation has those who excel, but I think we have fewer and fewer of them as time progresses,a�? says Anur, who studied orchestral percussion, jazz and drumming performance at the Manhattan School of Music and the Berklee College of Music. a�?I believe this is because of a lack of societal attention to the importance of learning and having discipline. Those qualities were coveted in the past; todaya��s culture wants things fast and does not care for or understand quality,a�? he adds.
Having played a variety of genresa��from rock and jazz to funk, avant garde and morea��the Krakow-based drummer believes what needs to change is musiciansa�� attitude that they a�?are somehow original because they dona��t understand (or care about) what has already been donea�?. While not discounting the fact that, because music is an art, many unorthodox methods can be quite successful, he advocates that if you want to be a professional a�?somethinga�?, you are always better off actually learning the subject you intend to work at.
On his second visit to SAM (his last was five years ago), the musiciana��a fan of composer Ranjit Barot, especially of his work with English guitarist John McLaughlina��says he’s excited to explore Indian classical music, the a�?Carnatic concepta�? and even work with a few composers. On a parting note, Anur, who owns six drum sets, including a Pearl and DW, says to make great music you need great instruments. a�?Indians need to deepen their relationship with instrument manufacturers around the world, to keep the standards high,a�? he concludes.
Three to go
Best performance: Playing at the 40th Woodstock anniversary concert in Poland, in 2009
Off duty: I practise and make even more music!
Current favourites: Instrumental progressive bands like Animals as Leaders and Special Providence, and the classics, of course
Surya Praphulla Kumar