George Howlett: Writing CV

 

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Current Writing

 

– At the moment I’m a freelance writer in London, focusing on jazz, global rhythm, Indian classical, and other improvised music. Recent articles have appeared in Jazzwise, JazzFM, The Wire, and Música Macondo, covering topics from jungle and techno to Indian rāga and classical minimalism. I got into writing as a natural outgrowth of discussing music with friends and students, and now it’s a dedicated, full-time obsession – see selected writings on my homepage.

 

– For most of 2019 I’ve been working with Darbar Arts & Heritage, who run one of the largest Indian music festivals outside the subcontinent. My first writing collection, Living Traditions: 21 articles for 21st century Indian classical music, explores how music with ancient roots can continue to innovate and flourish in the modern world, and features interviews with leading artists and in-depth essays on the music’s context and inner workings. See the dedicated homepage here.

 

– In late 2019 I commenced a collaborative research effort – Which Ragas was Coltrane Listening To? – analysing the spiritual jazz pioneer’s handwritten notes and sketches to reveal which particular Indian ragas captivated him so much. I’m linking up with some leading jazz and Indian artists to crack this truly fascinating musical puzzle – watch this space!

 

– I’m a regular Guitar World/MusicRadar contributor, writing online lesson articles on global music. Past pieces include Indian melodic ornamentation, Raga basics for jazz guitarists, Odd-time songwriting grooves, West African rhythm primer, and Creative use of the open strings, with more on the way. Alongside this I give various workshops and demonstrations on topics related to improvisation and self-learning.

 

Other Work

 

– At Darbar I wrote over 100 online artist biographies, and edited a series of historical articles by the author, critic, and BBC broadcaster Jameela Siddiqi. Also handled various comms tasks, and added detailed descriptions to all 300+ videos on the Darbar YouTube channel to aid public engagement with Indian classical (examples here and here). Currently I’m writing Darbar’s Know Your Raga database, a much heavier theoretical project.

 

– In 2015 I wrote a lesson article, Shakti’s Remainder Bar Rhythms, breaking down how the pioneering Indo-jazz group uses a cyclical view of time to gain rhythmic freedom (John McLaughlin, guitarist for Shakti and Miles Davis, gave my analysis the stamp of approval). Other past work includes Musical Harmony: How and why do we dream it?, exploring some fundamentals of sound perception through quirks of our neurology.

 

Outside Writing

 

– I play guitar, tabla, and santoor in the London area, performing, teaching, and working with open-minded collaborators. I recently started releasing music as ‘Rāga Junglism’, loosely fusing jazz and jungle with Indian classical concepts (sample: No Kanjira, with Indo-jazz sax master Jesse Bannister). Full musical CV here.

 

– Beyond music I’m interested in systemic activism for a fairer world. I’ve worked with forward-thinking development charities such as GiveDirectly to raise philanthropic funds and promote ‘workplace activism’ – the idea that young professionals can push for radical change via their often ethically frustrating private sector jobs. A handbook on how we go about this will be released shortly (e-mail me for the draft).

 

– In 2017 I guest lectured at Harvard and UC Berkeley on the role of written discourse in activism, and was published in Prof. David Graeber’s 2018 book Bullshit Jobs – a radical anthropologist’s take on the rise of meaningless employment under late capitalism. Thank god I’ve escaped the grey mundanities of corporate life now.

 

• Get in touch! george@ragajunglism.org

• Musical CV here

 


 

 

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