'Music in India is more alive than before'

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'Music in India is more alive than before'

A man who has revolutionised Indian classical music on an instrument known to play Western forms – the electric guitar – surely calls for some out-of-the-box appreciation, just like his work. Having explored most musical genres in India and abroad,

R Prasanna is an experiment freak, truly exemplifying the notion of a global musician. Metrolife brings you an exclusive from the guitarist’s strings.

Specialising in Carnatic classical, Prasanna also plays Rock, Jazz, Blues, etc. “From a young age I was pretty much into rock music. Then there was Carnatic music. Afterwards film music came up. All these three things co-existed,” explains the self-taught musician. “I was developing a different way of composing and playing by picking all pitches together, which was just unique in my own way,” he adds.

Prasanna has been closely associated with the Indian film industry which comprise scoring the music of 2009 Oscar-winning documentary Smile Pinki, for contemporary dance theatre including Shakespeare's Tempest in Sydney, A Story and a Song in Boston, among others. He also orchestrated the title track for AR Rahman’s Oscar-nominated film Lagaan and for the national award-winning Tamil film Vazhakku Enn 18/9.
His body of work is as dynamic as his educational background. With an engineering degree in Naval Architecture from IIT, Madras, Prasanna graduated with an honours from the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston. “Music was happening throughout. As and when I was studying I was playing around the country. With all elements of music coming into my world, I decided I should do it full time,” he says.

A true music lover, Prasanna believes music knows no boundaries. He has performed at some of the top international music festivals with noted names in the Jazz / Fusion world including Anthony Jackson, Omar Hakim and Aka Moon among others. From the Indian music world, he has worked with veterans like Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Dr L Subramaniam and Trichy Sankaran etc.

“There are a lot of similarities in music across countries. Music is music. Every culture has something beautiful in its music. I am on a quest for discovery and enjoying the multitude of culture that exists in music,” he animatedly explains.
Reflecting on the growing vitality of music, Prasanna shares, “When I grew up, it was hard for me to get the kind of exposure and education that exists in music today. Today, I am so proud to be heading my music academy. We have opened up to truly world class education, and mobilise musicians and students from across the globe into India. Music in India is now like a melting pot of lots of things.” The artist is the President of his Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music located 80 km from Chennai.

Prasanna will also be seen with A R Rahman in MTV Coke Studio’s season three, to be launched in August. Sharing his experience of recording, Prasanna exclaims, “It was unbelievable. What we did was something one couldn’t even imagine. There were singers from across borders.”

Being labelled a classical artist, Jazz guitarist or a film composer is not important for this multi-tasking man as he “wants to be a good example of the classical music being part of everything I do.”

The guitarist is a true patriot having taken Indian music to a new threshold in the world.  “India today stands at the forefront of lots of meeting possibilities. We are revered for our brilliant folk tradition and Carnatic and Hindustani music all over the world. All of these are now coming together and even the young (music enthusiasts) have access to them. Indian music is more alive than ever before,” he proudly signs off.

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