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My favourite raga

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U.Rajesh: Thodi and Charukesi are my pick
U.Rajesh: Thodi and Charukesi are my pick

Thodi is a heavyweight and quite a challenge to learn. And Charukesi appeals because of its ability to convey both happiness and remorse.

It doesn’t matter if you are playing solo, in a group, working on an album, doing fusion work or scoring background music for films. It doesn’t matter if you are a vocalist or an instrumentalist. What you need is a sound knowledge of ragas and an expertise in handling their myriad moods and technical features,” begins mandolin U.Rajesh.

“My all time favourites are Thodi and Charukesi. Thodi is a heavyweight and quite a challenge to learn. And there lies its beauty. For me, during those initial years, it was not just about learning a difficult raga; it was equally difficult getting a nod of approval from my brother (U. Shrinivas). The day I got a good certificate from him, I felt I had got a hang of the raga.

“Though I have learnt a lot from my brother, maestro T. N. Rajarathinam’s Thodi playing left a deep impression on me.

Pleasing notes

“The colourful Charukesi appeals because of its ability to convey both happiness and remorse. Also, it’s accommodative and pleasing notes help me in jamming with musicians from different genres. This is the reason why I chose to include it in my album ‘Spirits,’ which was nominated for Grammy in 2006.

“As for compositions, all Tyagaraja kritis in Thodi take you on a musical and lyrical trip. In Charukesi, Tyagaraja’s ‘Aadamodi Galade Ramayya...; is an amazing work. I also enjoy playing one of Lalgudi sir’s compositions and my own composition that was part of ‘Spirits,’” is how Rajesh concludes his conversation.

CHITRA SWAMINATHAN


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