The Murky Clouds is a three-piece Indian Classical fusion trio, featuring Vikaasa Ramdas—electric mandolin, Hirak Modi—harmonium and Ajit Acharya—tabla.
Their pieces and performances showcase the meeting point of two rich Indian music cultures – Hindustani Classical style (from North India) and Carnatic style (from South India). The group also loves to blend the Indian classical styles with flamenco and jazz.
About the group’s name – Murky in English musical glossary means a pattern of notes quickly played in alternative octaves on a bass instrument, while a Murki in Hindustani musical glossary means a fast and delicate progression of 2 or more notes. ‘The Murky Clouds’ is a representation of dark poignant clouds just before they rain. It is believed that in ancient times, playing Ragas like Megh Malhar (Hindustani) and Amrithavarshini (Carnatic) induced rain from the (murky) clouds!
The classical music of India is an improvisatory art music tradition with roots in ancient philosophies and yogic practices. Today there are two distinct classical systems: the southern Carnatic tradition and the northern Hindustani tradition.
All classical music of India is based on two fundamental concepts of melody and rhythm, known respectively as raga and tala. Ragas are melodic landscapes that encode specific musical parameters related to note combinations and embellishments as well as non-musical guidelines regarding the intended mood and time/season of a given performance. Ragas evolved from the voice but can be expressed on any melodic instrument. The exposition of a raga is further accompanied by the complex polyrhythms of various talas as realized on the tabla drum.
Vikaasa Ramdas is a Carnatic musician under the tutelage of Mandolin Maestro Padmashri Mandolin U. Shrinivas and his brother Mandolin U. Rajesh for the last 20 years, since the age of 6.
Vikaasa gave his first public concert at the Vani Mahal, Chennai in September 2008, at the age of fifteen. Since then, he has been regularly performing at various cultural and social functions at various concert halls, sabhas, temples and other performing venues in India and in the United States.
He has also regularly performed at the Margazhi Music Festival in Chennai since 2011, as well as the Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival at Thiruvaiyaru. He has also been featured on Indian National TV (DD Podhigai), as well as being empanelled by the All India Radio for their youth music section since May 2012. He also participated in the ‘Spirit of Youth Festival’ organized by The Music Academy in Chennai.
While adhering to the traditional and technical requirements of Carnatic music, Vikaasa also explores other forms of music such as flamenco, jazz, and blues and has several original compositions spanning different genres. He focuses heavily on the tonal quality of the instrument, which brings out the richness and melody of Carnatic music, as well as the intricate fingerpicking of the flamenco style and improvisation in the jazz style. He strongly believes that his Guruji, Mandolin U. Shrinivas blesses him and guides him in every note of his pursuits in music.
Vikaasa completed his Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Florida, Gainesville and is currently working at Mathworks, Boston as a software engineer.
Hirak Modi has been playing Harmonium since the age of 8. He studied Hindustani Classical music from Shri Bhavesh Jani at Mumbai, India and was awarded the Sangeet Visharad certificate (equivalent to Bachelor of Music) from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya
Mandal, Mumbai in 2013. He has performed at various events in Mumbai as well as in the Boston area.
Hirak also studied Western Classical music on Violin for 4 years and developed an interest in creating Soundtracks. He likes to combine melodies from Hindustani music with harmonic elements from Western Classical music to write original compositions and perform fusion covers with Mihir and Vikaasa.
Hirak has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. During his graduate program, he was a part of the University Chorus at the USC Thornton School of Music for two semesters. He is currently working as a software engineer at MathWorks.
New England-based tabla player Ajit Acharya began his training under the tutelage of Sri Sheshagiri Rao of Bangalore, India. He also studied extensively with Dr. Rajan Sachdeva,
one of the most respected and prolific Indian music teachers in the midwest. His table apprenticeship continues under the guidance of Pandit Samar Saha of the Benares gharana (or style) of tabla. Ajit has accompanied instrumentalists, vocalists and dancers. He has also given workshops all over the country and performed extensively with fusion, jazz and experimental musicians.