Playing the right keys

Anil Srinivasan launched his album Touch with a piano concert, which proved that the piano can be used not just for Western music, but also for Bollywood and Indian classical notes.

Updated - November 08, 2015 08:04 pm IST

Published - November 07, 2015 05:16 pm IST

Dexterity is Anil Srinivasan's strength

Dexterity is Anil Srinivasan's strength

Think Indian music and the instruments -- veena, violin, flute, harmonium, tambura, sitar, sarod, santoor, mridanga and tabla – pop up in your mind. It’s interesting to know that many of these instruments are not completely of Indian origin. The present day violin, for instance, is said to be introduced to India by the military bandsmen of the East India Company. It was later learnt and adapted to suit Carnatic music by Baluswami Dikshitar, brother of Muthuswami Dikshitar.

Today, the instrument and its role in the context of Indian classical music is vital and internalised enough to not consider where it came from. This was proved at the launch of the album Touch , a solo piano album, by pianist Anil Srinivasan at Alliance Francaise recently.

The event not only proved the coming-of-age of a pianist in India, but also showed the flexibility of the piano as an instrument in the Indian music context. Touch was launched through a performance tour, conceptualised by Aalaap, at Alliance Francaise.

The evening was a blend of eclectic sounds of the piano across genres of Indian classical, western and jazz. A multimedia narrative that played along with the evening’s concert started with a deft potter’s hand shaping a lump of clay. The visual was both a parallel and parabolic to the concept of Touch , shaped by various musical influences on the Indian classical piano and the pianist. It moved on to two children playing hopscotch, with chords to go with it, later leading to the famous ‘Chinnan Chiru Kiliye’ that played like a subtitle to the visual. The visual eventually played background lights that seemed incomplete from where it started.

From a complex Schumann piece to a colloquial Bharathiar poetry, a cross-cultural Swati Thirunaal composition to a classic Khayyam melody, the medley stitched together a beautiful patchwork of musical textures. The audience instantly hummed along the S.D. Burman and Kishore Kumar numbers, and enjoyed Ilayaraja’s Mouna Ragam theme music and tapped their feet to the recent ‘Badtameez Dil’ that was roped in spontaneously as a request from the audience.

Anil’s dexterous fingers showed no discrimination between the familiar movie classics, the Western classical or Carnatic phrases. He got the audience back to the guessing game during the phrases from Schumann’s ‘Traumerei’’, that they might have heard in a Raymond commercial. Did one even hear a few notes from the familiar C- Major scale or Shankarabaranam that made children in the audience sit up and sing their rhymes? The pieces from rhymes in C-Major may also have come from Anil’s engagement with children, to take music into the curriculum of schools through his Rhapsody Music Foundation.

“Musicians are an amalgam of their musical influences. We don’t know left or right, but we just have wings. Of the seven tracks in the album Touch , I have composed three – ‘Waltz for Sharik’ is a take on India’s leading jazz pianist, Sharik Hasan’s music, to encourage the idea of musicians appreciating and playing their contemporaries’ work, ‘Morning Mist’ in ragam Sarasangi was to be played with late Mandolin U. Srinivas, which eventually could not materialise,” shares Anil.

Beautifully conceptualised by the talented team of Aalaap, Touch has travelled to Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi.

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