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Harpreet Bansal: The Vocal Violinist

The main aim of this project is to explore different aspects of the transmission between improvisational vocal performance and violin performance in the North Indian classical music tradition, thus improving my abilities as an improvisationist, violinist and composer.

Field of Study: Artsitic Research



This transmission will be explored both by personal studies with Indian master-tutors, and in the role of transmitter of my acquired knowledge to ensemble colleagues and NAM students.

Born and raised in Norway by Indian parents, I will necessarily approach this subject from a bicultural, bi-musical angle. The focus on vocal teaching reflects the way I was taught the ragas as a child: learning by singing, with my father ustad Harbhajan Singh Bansal as my guru. I will follow this line of approach in this project, which will be a return to my musical roots both in style and method by seeking out the advice and guidance of two prominent Indian vocalists. In particular, I intend to focus on the improvisational form alap, emphasizing its vocal origin, and use it as a framework in exploring the traditional vocal/instrumental approach Gayaki ang – lit. “song-way” – the art of transmitting vocal techniques into instrumental performance.

Eastern/Western duality

A deeper understanding of this Eastern/Western duality will be a major asset in my current career as a performing soloist and chamber musician of self-composed material (composing is an integrated part of Indian musicianship). It will also make me better qualified to pass on the North Indian classical music tradition in a European setting.

The project also intends to contribute to an enhanced consciousness of the relations between the instrument and the body through song. I imagine this might be especially useful for Western classical instrumentalists, as Western art music over the centuries has increasingly removed itself from the sing-able, while North Indian classical instrumental music maintains close relations to song. The use of song might prove helpful in the development of a more organic, body-conscious, breathing-conscious and ultimately energy-saving style of playing.


The outcome will be one solo CD and a CD with my ensemble Bansal Band, as documents of the dual pupil-teacher approach. This will be accompanied by an e-publication with documentation and background of the process, and reflections on its duality of roles and cultures.

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Published: Sep 15, 2017 — Last updated: Mar 9, 2023