... nor does it have shortcuts. Learning its language takes some doing, says keyboardist and pianist Jordan Rudess. At a workshop on October 18 and 19, he and Prasanna will explore the questions of performance, education, technology and entrepreneurship in music.

After a head-spinning 14-month tour with his band, Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess wanted some quiet. He was looking for a special place, cut off from the bustle, to recharge his batteries. He chose Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM) on East Coast Road, sequestered and in tune with Nature.

The visit, however, was long overdue. In 2010, months before SAM went on steam, guitar wizard and SAM’s president Prasanna met the keyboardist and classical pianist at Los Angeles and spoke about how SAM melds different worlds of learning, notably the ancient Indian gurukula system with the technology-driven institutionalised Western form of education. To Prasanna’s surprise, Rudess expressed a desire to visit the academy.

Exploring questions

And he is finally here. Rudess will hold a a workshop Connecting The Dots (on October 18 and 19), where he and Prasanna will explore the questions of performance, education, technology and entrepreneurship in music. The workshop is open to those receptive to these questions.

Talking to mediapersons at one of SAM’s buildings that is architecturally designed to represent a guitar, Rudess dwelt on a wide range of topics, including the significance of practice, the charm of shuttling between acoustic and electric worlds, and the issues surrounding a Dream Theater gig in India.

Rudess called his band members the biggest ‘practiceoholics’ on the planet. They understand that music is not magic, though it appears so. There are no shortcuts in music — learning the language of music takes some doing. Rudess expressed admiration for Dream Theater’s drummer Mike Magini, who is given to bettering himself. “He’s so into it. All of us are,” said Rudess and called Magini the most incredible drummer. Rudess was shattered by Mike Portnoy’s decision to leave Dream Theater. It would have continued to haunt Rudess had Magini not stepped in to fill the void.

On whether Dream Theater could come to India for a performance, Rudess said such an event would be a logistics nightmare. It would not happen unless a brilliant promoter came on board and addressed a range of issues, including that of security.

Prasanna recalled how Rudess said the same thing over two years ago, during their meeting at Los Angeles. Dream Theater’s visit probably has to wait, but Prasanna believed SAM had made a start. Bringing Rudess and providing him the right platform and letting his multifarious talents benefit students of music and others were incredible achievements, he added.

The pressmen got to witness an unusual sight — Rudess giving a performance with one of the applications created for the iPad. After the mind-blowing performance, Rudess said, “The technique to use this iPad application comes from what I learnt sitting at the piano from age seven.”

Prasanna used this interlude of technology-driven music to drive home a point. He said, “Technology cannot replace a live band. Jordan Rudess is a great example of this.” Despite an ability to do wonders with technology (Rudess has created popular music applications for iPad / iPhone), he still believed in playing live music. At a time when pianos were being discarded as obsolete and replaced with keyboards, he had something to teach us, said Prasanna.

“Musicians have access to keyboards and iPads. But where are the pianos?” asked Prasanna.

“Give us some pianos!” smiled Jordan Rudess.

(For details about the workshop, call 95000-18462)

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