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Chennai musician bridges instrumental divide

Prince Frederick
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moving with the timesRajhesh Vaidhya has redesigned the veena to resemble a guitar so it can be carried around like one —Photo: R. Shivaji Rao
moving with the timesRajhesh Vaidhya has redesigned the veena to resemble a guitar so it can be carried around like one —Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

Rajhesh Vaidhya wondered what it would be like to walk and play his veena. Look where this idea took him.

Collaborating with Shankar Swamy of Chennai-based Harmony Musical Instruments (HMI), he has made a veena that resembles a guitar and can be carried around like one.

Rajhesh is now considering applying for a patent for this instrument, which he calls RaVna.

“RaVna was inspired by Roland AX-Synth, the keytar,” said Mr. Vaidhya, who has performed alongside pianist-composer-arranger Stephen Devassy, a famous Roland AX-Synth player.

In fact, Mr. Vaidhya was seen performing with Mr. Devassy at a concert in Croydon, London, on March 30, when he unveiled his unusual-looking veena to the world.

Before he mustered the courage to go on stage with the RaVna, Mr. Vaidhya spent around eight months getting accustomed to the instrument. Made of red cedar and weighing 12 kg, it is a tad too heavy.

However, sustained practice enabled Mr. Vaidhya to get a grip on the instrument. He said, “It has a solid body. I did not want a hollow one. I can amplify it to produce the desired sound.”

Other features of the RaVna include two pick-for the main strings and one more for the harmony strings, an unusually-sized fretboard and wooden scalloping that enables the strings to be pulled down in the manner unique to the veena.

Mr. Vaidhya denies any plans to market the instrument. “I just wish to take it to concerts in different parts of the world so people become aware of it,” he said.

He is clearly besotted with his RaVna, and in a tribute, his international school of veena — scheduled to launch on May 25 — is being named after the instrument.

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