If music were a person, how would you qualify your relationship status with it?
Soulmate! Someone who I share my joys and sorrows with; someone I play with, I look up to, look forward to and someone who is a part of my life...
Is music always on your mind?
Yes; in different forms, textures, frequencies. Sometimes, as a soothing melody in the background, sometimes as a phrase that bothers me as a puzzle, sometimes as a raga that is my favourite, and sometimes as a raga that alludes me.
How does an instrumentalist think and process music? And how different is it from the way a vocalist perceives and processes it?
The main weapon of a vocalist is the lyrics. Once the lyrics come in, the music becomes psychological. You need to fit it to a context, to a religion, to a region and the craving to understand the lyrics bothers your psyche. At a certain level, music is existential. If mere sound vibrations can either calm your senses or disturb them, then good music without lyrics can definitely elevate your mind, body and soul and take it to a higher plane of your choice. Instrumental music allows you to fix the narrative according to your imagination. It’s not fixed to a particular scenario. It affects you and influences you at the very root of existence.
Do you listen to a lot of music? How, where and when do you listen to it?
Coming from a family of musicians, consciously and unconsciously, I hear music being taught, music being practiced, music being composed, music being performed in different contexts through the day. Each musician in my family has a different choice for a playlist and whether I like it or not, I am exposed to all these playlists and something in the essence of all these different types of music gets into me. At times, even silence sounds like a very beautiful piece of music embroidered with pregnant pauses and strong gushes of meaningfulness. The piece that follows it seems so refreshing after the beautiful piece called silence.
What are you listening to currently?
I’m currently listening to my maternal uncle, Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman’s magical rendition of “Dudukugala” along with Shri Palghat Mani Iyer on the mridangam.
Listen to ‘Dudukugala’ by Lalgudi G Jayaraman here
How do you respond when you listen to your own music? Recommend us one of your own pieces that is also your personal favourite?
Whenever I listen to my music, my mind is always looking for scope to improve and I look for the next opportunity to play the improved idea. Mysterious Duality is an album close to my heart. “Wandering in Dimensions” in Raga Shanmukhapriya is one of my personal favourites.
Listen to ‘Wandering in Dimensions’ by Dr Jayanthi Kumaresh here
How would you distinguish classical music from contemporary music?
I believe that contemporary music is one of the offsprings of classical music. It is a new interpretation that resonates with modern day society’s lifestyle, culture, influences and pressures. It provides a platform for the current generation to express themselves, providing them a bridge between what was there and what is now. Tradition is addition!
What’s the meaning of bhakti in your world of music?
Bhakti is total dedication to the cause, purpose, and intensity of the sound vibrations that we produce, with the responsibility of being true to the gurus who imparted it to us, and in turn serve the people who come to listen to us.
What is your relationship with god?
Each of us are an embodiment of the supreme. God is not something outside of us for us to describe “a relationship with him or her”. The Supreme Being envelopes us in everything we do, in everything we think, and everywhere we are. Who are we to have a so-called “relationship” with God? We are but mere pawns in a game played by the Supreme.
Instrumental music allows you to fix the narrative according to your imagination. It’s not fixed to a particular scenario. It affects you and influences you at the very root of existence
If you wanted to invite five musicians (alive or dead) to a tea party, who would they be?
Vidwan Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vidwan Shri S Balachander, Vidwan Shri Flute TR Mahalingam, Nadaswaram Vidwan Shri Rajarathnam Pillai and Ustad Amir Khan.
What is it like to be married to a musician?
It’s a lot of fun! There is so much to share, learn from, inspire, imbibe, influence over tea, lunch and travels.
Has your marriage also deepened your relationship with the violin?
I come from a family replete with violinists. My grandfathers, mother, sister, all my cousins, my PhD guide, and my husband are all violinists. My strings have always been attached to the violin...
Interviewed by Akhila Krishnamurthy
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