SPECIAL FEATURE - An obsession with music by V. Ramnarayan
Excerpts from a freewheeling conversation T.M. KRISHNA had with the author.
Can you describe your practice methods?
In my early days I practised a lot, thanks to my guru Seetarama Sarma Sir. I can’t say that I was very disciplined, getting up early and doing sadhakam and all that, but I used to work at it. The period I slogged a lot was late school and early college – 1992 to 96, 10 hours a day.
I used to pick up a raga and just sing, sing, sing, sing, sing! Alapana, tanam, endlessly. I used to jam with Sriram Gangadharan a close friend. If we heard a Natakurinji in a concert, we came home and started singing the raga. It used to go on into the night. My practice has always been late at night.
I have this theory that we should push our mental capacity to the extreme during practice. A lot of nonsense may be there inside your head. When you practise Natakurinji for six hours for instance, other raga-s could be there inside you. Every musician has to develop a sieve in the thought process that will help to bring out the juice of what your mind is thinking and deliver it. Not necessarily in a concert, but when you sing naturally. You first need to throw everything out. You need to expel all extraneous matter. When you sing for four hours – you will reach a point when you are brain dead. But you just have to get to that point, where you are so saturated that you will go mad! After that, the mind starts clearing up what you sing. Among 50 ideas that come up in your mind, one idea may survive. Many people told me I was overdoing it, singing too much. Being the kind of person I was, I rebelled and continued to do exactly what I wanted to do. This was very good in one way. I learnt it all my way. If someone asked me to sing Todi, I just poured out everything I knew of Todi, all the sangati-s.
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