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Take Five With...

Take Five With Gokul Salvadi

By Published: January 23, 2013
Unlike Western classical music, Carnatic doesn't support a polyphony or harmony. What it deals is all melody. Being a melody only genre is due to the tradition of placing vocal rendition as the primary learning part. And, interestingly, Carnatic provides ways to express rhythm with syllables. If a percussionist wants to demonstrate an improvisation, it should be rendered vocally. In essence, a Carnatic vocal artist has the exposure and practice to render all melody and rhythm vocally. This helped me to come out with recording, scoring my vocal rendition of melody and rhythm before I took my scores to the studio. I can record a melody with a handheld device when the idea sparks out, or I can write it on paper while shopping.

This creates the basis of my compositions. All the studio stuff comes at later stage. I used to derive a scale or Raga that I found fit for a particular composition. This was the prime job. Then I would continue to record improvisations on paper or with a voice recorder—sometimes just in my memory. These melodic and rhythmic structures are the building blocks of constructing my songs.

Then the phase of scoring puts things in shape.

Your teaching approach:

I would fist evaluate what is music for a student, in her or his own perception. Then I would attempt to penetrate his/her own idea of music through discussion.

When it comes to practice, I adapt specific techniques in demonstrations, drills to address the students' specific requirements to help them move towards perfect listening, and then to the perfect rendition of basic musical notes. This is very simple when said; in practice, I keep this as an ideal target and push the students towards the goal till I feel that it was OK, on a case-by -case basis.

Favorite venue:

My first vocal concert was in a hill temple of my town. The occasion was a festival. When I got to the stage, I felt dizzy when I saw the crowd. This first concert was filled with anxiety on one hand and the sense of self-accomplishment on the other. This was my most memorable concert.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Most of orthodox Carnatic musicians are far away from present technology and they believe the spirit of Carnatic may not stay in shape when a composition is technically treated. The Bollywood music, the mainstream media music of India, is getting more and more influence from the popular music of western countries—and from technology, libraries and samples that almost make much of Bollywood sound like a western, American genre mixed with a shallow Indian spirit.

In my work, I attempt to get a balance between technology and the soul of Carnatic music. I believe, one should not discount technology as a whole, but should not produce songs that are of simply of good sonic quality but with no Indian content.

Did you know...

I am a generalist. I have a passion, an interest in learning, experimenting with ideas from completely random sources. I also breed neon tetras.

I have played the roles of entrepreneur, software engineer, a creative, teacher, stock broker and market analyst, but music has always been the only thing with which I have been constantly involved and emotionally connected throughout my life.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Gokul Salvadi
Gokul Salvadi
Gokul Salvadi

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