Musical electronics

YEARS AGO, the four-stringed fretless Thamboora was replaced in classical music concerts by a wooden box that produced music when plugged on. That was electronics, a completely alien field, gaining entry into the world of music. But even before that, the electronic sruti box and tala instruments were invented though they did not attract much attention. Was it easy to break the walls of tradition with modern inventions? Not at all.

Several innovations later, as the range of electronic musical instruments expanded, the jinx was finally broken. The instruments gradually gained acceptance from music maestros all over the country.

``It took 20 years for us to break the wall of tradition. Only now, the sales have improved,'' said Radhika Raj Narayan, Veena player and founder of a company that pioneered in manufacturing these instruments.

Radel Electronics, a Bangalore-based firm that is attempting at pioneering efforts, is in town. With its range of electronic sruti boxes, electronic tablas, talometers, electronic leheras and the likes.

An exhibition of the range of equipment was inaugurated by carnatic vocalist, Sudha Raghunathan, on Friday last. The exhibits not only include the latest instruments, but also the old and obsolete ones which have been improvised upon. The dhruv electronic sruti box, the first of the lot, is also being displayed. All the instruments have been designed and manufactured by the co-founder of Radel, G.Raj Narayan, engineer and amateur flautist.

But, the highlight of the fair is the Melamala, a device that displays and plays - both arohan and avarohan - the scales of all the 72 Melakarta ragas. The ragas are even arranged in chakras.

Audio presentations of a set of old timers - the likes of Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Alathur brothers and M.D.Ramanathan (all vocal) and T.R.Mahalingam (flute) - is part of the exhibition. Video clippings of performances by M.Kodandaram (nadaswaram), Sankaran Namboodri and Hyderabad brothers (vocal) are also shown.

Other items on show are a game for perfecting the art of identifying the pitch and a computer-interactive music quiz.

The winners take away lots of prizes too. Closes 8 p.m. Monday. At Chettiar Hall, TTK Road, Alwarpet.

- By Saptrshi Bhattacharya

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