Tamil Nadu

A big leap from Semponnarkoil to California College of Music

Anand Manivannan

Anand Manivannan  

Despite his Carnatic background, Anand found his calling in Western music

Semponnarkoil, a small town near Mayiladuthurai, has a special place in the world of Carnatic music. Nagaswaram players from this town, beginning with Ramsamy Pillai and his descendants, are remembered for rakthi melam, a piece of music that places great thrust on layam.

But Anand Manivannan, a scion of the family, has made a big leap by opting for Western music, particularly Pop, even though he has had adequate training in Carnatic music and has reached the level of performing on stage.

“Carnatic music has a lot of limitations which Western music doesn’t, and this was among the major reasons why I wanted to pursue the latter,” said the 23-year-old grandson of nagaswaram player Semponnarkoil S.R.D. Vaidhyanathan.

Mr. Anand, a computer engineering graduate, learnt the basics of Carnatic music from his grandfather and later became a student of vocalist Rajkumar Bharathi. On his graduation, he was offered a couple of jobs, but decided to pursue the subject that was close to his heart.

Though he had realised, at a very young age, that Carnatic music was not his cup of tea, Mr. Anand said it played a pivotal role in his gaining a foundation in pitch and rhythm in Western music.

“In my pitch training classes in Los Angeles, where we had to listen to the root of the key and then a random not and state the interval, I found it pretty easy and people asked me how I could find the interval quickly. Carnatic music makes you start by singing Saa Pa Saa, or 1 5 1 octave, and you end that way. It is like a cheat-sheet because you have an extra reference point which others don’t,” he said.

While his mother Sasikala was initially against the idea of him pursuing a career in Western music and wanted him to become a Carnatic vocalist, she eventually agreed with his choice.

“Even my grandfather never insisted that I should learn from him. In 2018, I completed a one-year production course from the California College of Music,” said Mr. Anand, a song-writer, singer and composer who can play the piano and guitar.

He has released a small album, Scars and Wounds, an amalgam of 40s Jazz, 70s Rock and Roll and Indie Folk. He is identified as ‘Andy The Crocodile’ in it.

When asked about his future plans, ‘Andy’ said he wanted to stay in the U.S., but added that it would depend on his level of success in the field. “I will get a visa extension only if I can prove that I have a successful career,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 10:30:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/a-big-leap-from-semponnarkoil-to-california-college-of-music/article28026241.ece

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