When the words carnatic, mridangam and kanjira come together in a concert, one might be curious to find out who the vocalist or perhaps a violin or veena artiste is. But this Saturday, composer Navneeth Sundar will perform on an iPad – complete with gamakas and swaras at TEDx Mylapore – an indepently organised TED event.
The artiste will play two carnatic compositions - Bantu Reeti Kolu, a Thyagaraja keerthanai and a thillana for 18 minutes. “I am excited to perform at my first kutcheri where I will be taking centre stage. I have accompanied celebrated artistes like Rajesh Vaidya and the Ganesh-Kumaresh duo when I would play a line or two in between some of the songs. This is the first time I am performing full-fledged compositions live, along with Sai Raghavan on the mridangam and Harihara Sharma on the kanjira,” says a thrilled Navneeth, as he shows us an iPad with Animoog software, customised with carnatic ragas on it.
As he wades through the keys on the iPad rapidly, he explains that it has taken him over three years to actually get accustomed to the touch interface on the device. There were times when there were a few changes he needed to make for the tone to sound right, so he wrote to Animoog and now, he says that the developer of the software is even helping him with additional features to take his carna-tech music pursuits to th next level!
However, despite this experimental phase, the artiste tells us he’s confident to pull out a live stage performance. And although this will be his first time doing so, he doesn’t seem nervous. “I have posted a video of me playing a thillana in raga Desh (one of the songs he will play at the concert) and it has been received well. So it is something I have been doing for a while and I have also rehearsed with the accompaniments,” he informs.
Besides performing, Navneeth will also speak about how one can make music using simple applications on the iPad, as he wants to spread the word to as many people as possible. He opines that musicians must embrace technology. In fact, Navneeth goes so far as to predict that there may be a time when those who are not endowed with a good voice, but have a penchant for music can perform with gamakas (pitch variations oscillating between adjacent and distant notes) with a sense of ease.
As for what’s up his sleeve next, Navneeth reveals he already has an album of carnatic compositions underway. Aptly titled ‘iPad Kutcheri,’ the musician shares, “I already have a few songs recorded,” and gives us a taste of one of the pieces — Gajavadhana – a carnatic composition in raga Natakurunji, that sounded almost exactly like the original.