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     Volume 8 Issue 99 | December 25, 2009 |

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Music from the Black Forest

Fayza Haq

‘Tele’ electrifies the crowd.

It was like a breath of fresh spring air speaking to the group of five musicians of Tele, who recently performed at the German Club. Bright- eyed and soft-spoken, they were eager to speak to The Star in the club premises -- lit up with Christmas lights and buntings, which brought in the relaxed festive season, so close to Victory Day. Piped popular pop and rock music relaxed guests, as they casually strolled in that cool winter evening.

The band got together about ten years back, all of them coming from the Black Forest, south of Germany. Apart from Jorg Hauldinghausen, the base player, the others did not study music formally. However, music was there in their families, in one form or another. The keyboard player, Patrick Reising studied Music Theory. They formed their first groups as teenagers, while studying other subjects like literature and affiliated subjects. Some of them are into other preoccupations too, as in the case of the base player and the drummer. Life as musicians was not easy for them, they said, but they enjoyed their tours, when they got to savour other cultures, as in Africa and Russia.

Tele, the enterprising German band, got its first record contract in 2003. The only way these musicians made a regular living, they said, was when they performed in concerts. Speaking about their experiences, Francesco Wilking, the vocalist and leader, said, "Given the fact that we sing in German, we are not able to reach out to all our listeners in all the countries, as we would have liked to. Playing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria is always easy enough. When we go as ambassadors of music, invited by the Goethe Institut, as in this case, we are delighted. In fact, we usually wallow in our experience. We are into all types of music. I'm influenced by classic song writing bands like the Beatles and artists like Bob Dylan. For me the lyrics are important," said Francesco.

" I've a personal feeling for the Beatles as I used to listen to them when I was three or four years old. For me pop music is easy to relate to and not as complicated as Jazz. Even the Beatles have songs with simple melodies with lyrics that are very moving. When all the Beatle members sat together and wrote music it was really special. One of my favourites is ‘A day in the life’ in which two ideas are put together and made into one song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Bob Dylan too was special with his influences of folk music, and blues musicians like Guthrie, who presented 'This land is your land'. His voice and rhythm were unique, although he was just one guy, with one guitar on stage. When I got older, I liked many Rolling Stones songs too, and influenced me as a band player. Classical music was also there in the background in my family. I still listen to Beethoven and Mozart. Mahler, Bruckner and Schonberg, who brought in changes in music, are also dear to me," he said.

Francesco Wilking, vocalist and leader of the band.

The group is also into cross-over music. Listening to the local musicians at Omni Music, shortly after they arrived, was also a memorable experience for these Tele self-effacing musicians in their thirties, "For us visiting exotic places like Africa , Uzbekistan, and India -- which includes Hyderabad and Delhi -- are experiences in a lifetime. These are valuable visits, which we on our own could never have afforded. The exchange of information, experiences and ideas that came from these trips are elements to be treasured. The trip to the National Museum, in Dhaka in particular, was mind-boggling -- specially the ancient sculpture and paintings. For us -- coming from the Black Forest -- these were eye-openers about Bangladeshi civilisation, as most people, even in Berlin, know little beyond the genocide of 1971 by the Pakistani army," Francesco.

Like the rest of the band, Jorg Holdinghausen, a part-time teacher, was excited over having presented their new fourth album, "Jedes Tier", to the German-speaking part of Europe recently." Our fairly recent trip to China was a mind-boggling too. Being there for the third time -- specially in Wuhan -- was exciting beyond words. We had gone for a German-Chinese festival of seven days, where there were 20 bands from Germany. Thus, Wuhan, this melting -pot of cultures of the east and west added to our know-how and pleasure. "This included sight seeing and we all clamoured for more. Music sure crosses all barriers -- just like painting or mime -- and makes the world one," said Jorg.

Patrick Reising, who played the keyboard added, "We play particular instruments necessary for concerts, even though we may enjoy playing others too -- such as the piano -- as in my case. I've studied music theory too. I'm into Rock and Pop in a big way. There are many influences in our band, including jazz ; we just swing with the time and mood."

All the five Tele members, including Martin Brombacher, the guitarist, had nothing but wonderful words when speaking about their impression of Bangladesh. They lapped up every bit of its culture-- past and present, including the " daal" (lentil soup). They said they found Bangladeshis outspoken, outgoing and certainly not lagging behind others -- as regards their pride in their roots.


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