‘I still practise for two hours a day’

Well-known harmonium artiste, C Ramadass played a decisive role in bringing the instrument to the forefront

C Ramadass has given over 650 performances till date.

Diligent practice, experience and God’s grace are what got him to where he is now, says renowned harmonium artiste, C Ramadass. Till date, he has given over 650 performances, entering the Limca Book of Records for the same.

Ramadass began his journey in harmonium under the guidance of his father, K C Cheluvaiah. “My father ran the bhajane mandir in Cottonpet for 60 years. He was an ardent lover of music and introduced me to the harmonium,” he recalled. “It is because of his support that I have achieved what I have.”

Later, he was trained in the instrument by Vidwan Muneswamappa and V Ramaiah. His first performance was in 1980, at Nada Jyothi Sabha. He was persuaded by a well-wisher to take harmonium to the centre stage and give a solo performance. From then, his career took off.

Recollecting his journey as an All India Radio (AIR) A-grade artiste, he says, “Listening to me play, the great physicist Raja Ramanna was surprised that the instrument hadn’t received the attention it deserved. As he was a member of the Rajya Sabha then, he intervened and helped lift the ban on the harmonium at AIR.”

Ramadass successfully cleared the auditions that followed and directly became an A-grade artiste at AIR. From then on, the harmonium slowly came to light. Despite this, he agrees that very few kacheris have the harmonium as an accompaniment. “This instrument is extremely difficult to play. It takes decades of practice to play the gamakas, emotions and the alapana as well as in an instrument like, say, the violin,” he explained.

Even today, he practises the harmonium for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening every day. There is no substitute for practice, he said.

What advice does he have for students learning to play the harmonium? “Listening to music constitutes 50 per cent of learning. A krithi can be played by four people in four different ways. You have to be sensitive to the nuances and the technicalities of these variations. You cannot perform on stage after only a year or two of learning,” he signs off.

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