Creative space Society

Homemade music

Home away from home Musician Charu Hariharan in her creative space

Home away from home Musician Charu Hariharan in her creative space   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

Musician Charu Hariharan finds inspiration in her ancestral house

This is the room where I started learning music from my appooppan (grandfather)... I must have been nearly three years old then,” says Charu Hariharan. It is in that very same room that Charu makes her own music now.

For this multi-faceted musician — she is a singer, composer, percussionist, lyricist, and programmer — this house in Sreekantesewaram is more than her maternal grandfather, the late Bhagavatheeswara Iyer’s home. Charu, daughter of musician B. Arundhathi, has many fond memories associated with this house.

The house, “nearly 70 years old,” hasn’t really withstood the ravages of time but thanks to some repair done a few years ago it retains an old-world charm.

“The house was lying unoccupied for a few years. We didn’t want to tear it down and build a new house there because all of us are deeply attached to it. At the same it was not viable to renovate it completely. So we repainted it, renovated the floors with vinyl and did minor refurbishing as well,” she says.

Although Charu stays near Eenchakkal junction, she used to regularly come to this house to chill out. “With my brother [Sreekanth Hariharan] also getting into music we found that the rooms in our house were getting smaller and smaller! So, gradually, I shifted my things related to music here,” she adds. Soon her ancestral house became her recording studio-cum-creative space. “There are days when I go home just to have food and to sleep! It is definitely a home away from home. The only problem is the palm civets in the attic. So, I am not comfortable sleeping here, with them making all kinds of noises in the night!” says Charu.

The narrow wooden door at the entrance opens to rooms aligned in a straight line. There are two fairly large rooms, which Charu uses as her own space. In one she keeps her computer and musical instruments — veena, tanpura, cajon, mridangam, ganjira, and the like.

The inbuilt teak cupboards lend elegance to the room. One of them has her collection of CDs. “World music, classical music, folk songs, live concerts... I have all of them. Most of them are ‘reference music’. There are only few film songs in this collection,” says Charu. In the other cupboard she keeps her microphones, in-ear monitor, sound cards, and keyboards, among other items.

The second room is sparsely furnished, with just a few pieces of furniture and an almirah. The centre of the room has been kept free. “Every month my mother holds a music concert here with a group of music teachers. The room is also convenient for me to sit down and play my instruments,” she says.

Charu prefers to work late at night especially around midnight and that may go up to 3 to 3.30 in the morning. “The best thing about the room is that there is no echo and so I can comfortably do the recording here,” says Charu, who has composed music for films, documentaries and short films.

Her forthcoming release is the music album, Karuna Nidhan, featuring Swathi Thirunal bhajans by Abhradita Banerjee, for which she has done the arrangement and programming. A self-taught programmer, Charu adds that her stints with various composers have helped her hone her skills.

Meanwhile, she keeps experimenting with world music. She is just back from Sweden after a short term course in the genre. The 28-year-old also sings and plays mridangam, ganjira and other instruments for Sweden-based multi-cultural band, Världens.

“Having worked with Swedish music legends such as Ale Moller and Valter Kinbom, I’ve been exposed to many new aspects of music and sound. These musicians keep innovating and have in-depth knowledge about various instruments,” says Charu.

She keeps adding new instruments to her collection, recent ones being aludu, pandeiro quadrado and shake plate.

“I experiment with the instruments in this house. Sometimes I come here to while away the time. Since I enjoy writing as well, I couldn’t have asked for a better space. Or else I catch up on my favourite movies. This house is disconnected from the world outside. There’s not much natural light inside so sometimes you can’t say whether it is day or night outside. That is what I love about this place, I feel very peaceful here. More than anything else, I feel the presence of my grandfather here,” she winds up.

(A series that explores the workspaces of creative people in the city and its suburbs)

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:02:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/musician-charu-hariharan-finds-inspiration-in-her-ancestral-house/article19185661.ece

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