CHENNAI: The distinct strains of a tuneful tambura welcomed us into Arkay Convention Center on August 24. Seated cross-legged with the instrument on her lap, artiste Latha pressed down the strings, allowing the sounds to reverberate across the hall. A single omnidirectional condenser microphone was placed in the middle of the stage. Seated on either side, remarkable performers and husband-wife duo — violinist Shreya Devnath and mridangam player Praveen Kumar K — were poised and brimming with confidence.
As more rasikas streamed in, the trio began their performance — the second edition of ‘An experiment with sound and music’, an ambient micing concert, with the rendition of Shyama Shastri’s Rave Himagiri in raga Todi, followed by a presentation of Mysuru Vasudevachary’s Ninne nammiti nayya, in Simhendramadhyamam raga. The two-hour concert had elaborate renditions of ragas and stirring compositions.
Complete silence, minimal lighting, a deliberate play on notes and shades of Carnatic ragas treated us to a musical delight. The apparent crackling chemistry on-stage between the musical duo, and a graceful Latha was a sight to behold.
In January 2019, after the first edition, Shreya took to her Facebook page to give rasikas a glimpse about the project. She wrote: ‘This was one of Praveen’s and my first projects together after we got married. In this concert, a single omnidirectional condenser microphone is placed in such a way as to capture the sound of the violin and mridangam, along with the tambura in an inherently balanced manner, instead of using dedicated dynamic microphones for each artiste.’
The equaliser is entirely flat, which brings out the natural tone of the instruments with no alterations or enhancements. She continued, ‘When such micing is done, the performer has no real awareness of the microphone. The instrument is therefore handled as one would in a practice session, or a chamber concert.’
The experiment, she says, is an attempt at reviving the micing technique. ‘It is an honest venture to bring out vintage sound and the music flows as a corollary to this,’ she wrote. To watch the first edition, visit YouTube channel ‘Shreya Devnath’.