Are you wondering what AHAVA NADA means? Simon Jakob Drees, Jan Hermerschmidt, Uwe Steger and Nathan Bontrager, the four musicians in the ensemble, answer exactly that along with other questions in an interview with Jana Lucas. Here we go with a round of „Ahava Askfrag“.
What does Ahava Nada mean? Everything nothing, right?
S.J. Drees: Ahava means “love” in Hebrew. Nada is a Sanskrit word meaning sound, sonic power and elemental strength, a cry. In addition, Nada means stillness or nothingness in Portuguese.
So could one describe the music played by Ahava Nada as between a powerful cry and stillness?
J. Hermnerschidt: We do play with power, virtuosic experimentality and sensibility. Our music shifts between wildness and a careful mixture of different styles. Between old and new. Between folk and classical. Between composed and improvised. Ahava Nada defies categorization.
S. J. Drees: Listeners at one of our concerts experience music as a broadly defined performance. Kratschenkato! Ahave Nada is an encounter with oneself and with the unknown. As musicians, we come from very different areas. Nathan from early music, myself from improvised music, Jan specializes in Jewish music and Uwe is one of those people who consciously chooses not to be attached to just one musical style making him an ideal playing partner for us all. These differences create friction which creates something unique, something new. As in Jazz or Dadaism. We respect these known quantities and from there develop our own way of playing. Everything is in flux. Iollebedort!
There’s not a second of boredom at your concerts, nothing monotonous. One follows along spellbound and excited. For example, you blend the melody from “Sandmann” with Telemann, Messiaen and improvised sections. Of what you do on stage, how much is performed or planned and how much is improvised?
N. Bontrager: We take the risk of creating mixtures, akin to what one can find in Jazz. The individual pieces themselves are, however, set. It’s not as if we spontaneously decide if we will play the Sandmann song or not. What develops within these pieces and parameters, however, depends entirely on the joy of playing in the moment.
U. Steger: Simon’s overtone singing, brought into a polyphonic dialogue with the other instruments, is characteristic of our sound. Simon composes the pieces, in a sense ramming musical buttresses in the ground.
S. J. Drees: Troog gedelle gedürgt!
U. Steger: On stage, we have the freedom to act in the moment and allow our musical intuitions to run free. We are completely present.
You sing and speak sometimes using an imagined language. What’s that all about?
S. J. Drees: We sing using the Mirkaledo language which evolves in the moment. I’ve been working with this Mirkaledo concept for 30 years. This involves observing, as a musician, how my body and feelings relate to their surroundings and how, through this, we can corporately make music.
What awaits a listener at your concerts? Can one relax or freak out?
J. Hermerschmidt: Arasta relaxta, wir rudden disaster fezt bungt un trunkt verinnet de Fühlung wuchtickeschaambaa. Respectfully addressed, slowed down completely and fully tolerated. Being instead of expectation – desire! Music comes from playing and will enter into any open ear.
N. Bontrager: Haha ha.
U. Steger: The diverse elements which make up “Ahava Nada” offer a starting point for anyone. Our music opens up a creative space for listeners to latch onto via many different sonic connection points.