Meet the Artist – June

“Meet the Artist” was an event sponsored by Sarangi and was hosted at the new Paduka Store in Alwarpet. The  event was attended by enthusiastic and adoring fans who were delighted that they had a chance to have an interactive chat with the Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh.

About Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh

Jayanthi has been enthralling audiences world over with her graceful, emotive and expressive music for the last 25 years. The Statesman, a well acclaimed daily quotes that Jayanthi is “The best and most versatile veena artiste we have today.” Born into a family where music has been the mainstay for the last seven generations, Jayanthi started playing the veena when she was barely 3.  Winning her way through several laurels and awards right from her childhood, Jayanthi was soon one of the youngest artistes in veena to receive A-TOP grading from All India Radio for the veena.

Jayanthi is the disciple of her maternal aunt Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan and veena Maestro Dr. S. Balachander. Her maternal uncle, the violin legend Lalgudi Sri. Jayaraman was a great influence and inspiration for her. Jayanthi was awarded a Doctorate by the University of Mysore for her work on the subject “Analytical Study of Different Banis and Playing techniques of the Saraswathi veena“.

Why the veena?

When Jayanthi was asked why she chose the veena? She replied saying ” Why not the veena?” Born in a family with  generations of musicians. Jayanthi was brought up in a musical world, waking up to the sounds of music, the family members talking about music and at the age of three, she said that  she did not choose to play the veena, but she ended up playing the veena. Photos of goddess Saraswathi playing the veena encouraged her to chosoe the instrument. The fact that she found the photo of Goddess Saraswathi playing the veena encouraged her to choose the veena. She feels that people do not choose the veena because it requires many more hours of  practice and dedication than the other instruments. She recalls her childhood days when she spent hours together practising . People who know her well say that she practices like a devil and plays like an angel.

Variations in her playing style

The key to success of a concert is the ability to maintain proportion and balance  while rendering her music to different audiences.  There is a three ‘E’ formula to music which is  Entertain, Educate and Elevate. The success of the concert is fruitful when the 3 elements are balanced based on the audience. She feels that a mix of the various speeds and styles of music will make the audience relish the music;  And the choice of songs depends on the location and the audience she is performing for .

Spending time other than Concerts

When Jayanthi  finds time away from her busy concert schedule, she composes songs. A recent work includes the title song  for a Kannada serial. She likes to read a lot of books, books based on history, which would be useful to her when she delivers lectures which elaborate on the vast culture and styles of music in India.

Significance of the veena

The four strings of the veena signify the 4 vedas-  Rig veda , Sama veda, Yajur veda & Atharva veda. The three strings on the side signify Itchchaa sakthi, Gnaana sakthi, & Kriyaa sakthi.

The veena is designed after the human body- the main playing part has 24 fixed frets which is symbolic to the 24 vertebrae  in the spinal cord. 24 is a magical number, the Gayathri manthra also has 24 aksharas. The playing of the veena stimulates the nerve ends of both the hands. Different gods are set to reside at different parts of the veena. Thus it is considered a very spiritual instrument.

About Mysterious Dualities

Mysterious Duality is her album which is a multi-dimensional reflection of the simple yet complex self, expressed through a single instrument. Jayanthi tells us that there are a number of personalities within a person. She quoted an example in which she says that there are different ways a person reacts- to his mother, friend, husband, son or a stranger, over the phone, describing them as different personalities enclosed in  one person. This inspired her to make this album where there are 8 veenas recorded one over the other. One veena plays the main melody, others play the rhythm, harmony, & upper octaves. The resonance of each of the many strings of the  different veenas comes together as a harmonious whole, representing the different personas and thoughts of an individual, and the mysterious dualities of a single existential entity.

Developing interest in veena

Jayanthi appreciates that the instrumental musicians from India are popular and well recognized all around the world with a great impact and reach across audiences. She concluded with the importance of musical instruments by specifying that when a we play a musical instrument- it is a psychosomatic motor activity implying that the right arm does the motor activity, the left hand involves creativity, the brain does the thinking about the Raagam, Thaalam, Sandadhis, Ghamakams, sequence of the Pallavi and the Anu Pallavi. There is a constant thought process happening in the mind and this increases the bandwidth of the brain and children who learn a musical instrument have a tendency to do much better in their academics compared to the others. According to her  Music has remained in our culture for the past 2000 years and will remain for many more generations to come.

At Sarangi, the Kanjivaram Sari Store, we are proud to have been part of this wonderful event and hope to be able to share with all of you details of many such events in the future.

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