The cultural movement, Svanubhava, launched by eminent vocalist and musicologist T. M. Krishna encourages children to learn traditional art forms. The two-day workshop will be held in the city during the week with many performers taking the centre-stage, including reputed Carnatic veena artiste from Hyderabad, D. Srinivas.
It was by chance that his mother learnt classical music from the disciples of Alathur brothers Srinivasa and Sivasubramania Iyer.
“When my parents came to the city in the ’50s, they were looking for a house when they heard the voices of T. G. Padmanabham and T. Sai Meenakshi, one of the disciples of the Alathur brothers, in Nallakunta. My mother Tulasi stopped on the road to listen and later informed them about our search for a house. They heard her sing and these tenants decided to have our family as their sub-tenants! They trained her and created a learning space for my brothers Murty and Sairam to learn the mridangam under the famous Vidwan Sudarshanachary of Hyderabad,” he recalls.
Since childhood, Srinivas’ mother trained him. Later, when applying for a music scholarship, he approached well-known flautist and producer at All India Radio N. S. Srinivasan. “He understood my interest in music and guided me in understanding the nuances of classical music. He played jugalbandi concerts with me. A jugalbandi with the legendary L. Subramaniam made me realise the speed at which a violin can weave musical notes. I started working on the plucking technique on the veena and today, I play a thousand plucks in a minute. It took three years of practice,” he explains.
Interestingly, later in life, when he was researching mathematics in music, Srinivas stumbled upon the infinite permutations and combinations possible within the seven notes. He says, “One birth isn’t enough to play the crores of permutations and combinations in classical music.”
Srinivas believes that all systems of music — Hindustani, Carnatic or Western — are based on melody and rhythm. “Music is evergreen. It ultimately dissolves into a frequency where the beauty of the raga evolves. The timing we give every musical note varies in every music system. When we perform with other musicians, there is a constant impact of listening to new genres. This, we unconsciously apply at times,” he says.
The 49-year-old feels sad about attempts made to create electronic and modern assembled versions of the veena. “It is very unfortunate that there is a difficulty in transporting this musical instrument during travel within India and abroad. That doesn’t mean changes will be made without understanding the impact on sound quality. An electronic veena doesn’t have the tonal quality of the original. An assembled veena is devoid of aesthetics and rich sounds that a veena can produce. I made changes in my veena like the usage of bell metal for the frets that enhance sound. It is important to ensure the changes and shortcuts suiting present times don’t take
away classical music’s essence .”
Notably, the style and rendition of the doyen of Carnatic music, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, have greatly inspired Srinivas. “The influence is so much that I am literally singing in my mind as I play the veena. My admirers comment that I am always singing on the veena. Somehow, I find that music is respected much more abroad. This is the reason youngsters there are more serious and add it to their extracurricular activities. Students pursuing music are respected and the same trend has caught up in the IIM institutes of India,” he shares.
Mentioning that the right technique of playing the veena involves plucking with the right hand and fingering with the left, Srinivas says, “The right hand works on the timing while the left works on the melody. It’s just like a husband-wife relationship.”...