Mandolin, Shrinivas made for each other

 He was not welcomed with open hands when he first performed on the stage. He was determined to proceed in spite of the criticisms and discouragements he received. This firmness helped him in creating history. Today Mandolin and Shrinivas are indivisible.
His father taught him the basics of fingering. The rest was his own development. His teachers would sing and he reproduced it on the instrument. This celebrity is a down to earth person. He was in Mysore recently for a concert. Deccan Herald spoke to him about his dreams, childhood and music.

Q: How different  is it to perform at Mysore?

A: I have performed in a few Sabhas, during Dasara. Mysore is an important traditional place for Karnatak classical music. Like Tanjore, Mysore is also a hub. It is always inspiring to play here.

Q: About your childhood…

A :My father Sathyanarayana taught many instruments to students. I was fascinated by its sound in a very early age. He never wanted me to be a musician. He was keen on my formal education. But my mind was always filled with music. Music was my only concern. In my parents absence, I would try playing them.

Q: Mandolin ?

A : Yes. Only mandolin. I don’t know whether it was the size or the sound that attracted me. Music was my destiny. After he saw me trying on it, he taught me the basics. I started learning from his Guru Shri Subbaraju. I had to learn the techniques on my own as there was nobody to  teach classical music on Mandolin. My parents gave full support after seeing my interest. I am thankful for them. I had to face a lot of criticism in my childhood from musicians as they felt that Mandolin does not suit our music. But I was confident. By constant practice, I was able to play Ragas like Thodi, Bhairavi and slowly they too started accepting it.

Q:  Our music is gamaka oriented. How could you bring it in a western instrument like mandolin?

A:  I think it was just the inspiration and constant practice that helped me. In the beginning I was not able to play thodi raga. I did not know how to give gamaka. One day when a friend of my father presented a LP of Rajarathnam Pillai’s  thodi, I knew how to bring it on Mandolin. Sheer inspiration.

Q : Did you modify the instrument to suit Karnatak music ?

A: Originally Mandolin had 8 strings. Four pairs. I removed three strings. That was not needed to bring gamaka. Now I play with 5 single strings.

Q : The challenges you faced along the way…

A: As I told you, I had to prove that this instrument is fit to play classical music. Secondly in the initial stage, it was only a little boy who could play. But to make it continue, I had to prove my ability. Music is not something you perform today and relax tomorrow. It is a continuous learning process. Every concert I feel is my arrangetrum. My ambition is to teach to as many as possible through my institution -  ‘Shrinivas Institute of world musique’ where a number of students come from all over the world and learn Mandolin. At the end of the day,  Music is the only thing that gives peace of mind.  

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