When they bow, Ganesh & Kumaresh sound distinct
They play together. They have been playing the duet as siblings for longer years than anybody else. Their music merges seamlessly. Yet, they work assiduously to retain their individual identities as artistes. If one loves playful music, the other weaves romance around his music. There is something `playfully romantic' about their combined music. They are the `sound engineers of the modern violin'! In a free-wheeling chat with www.carnaticdarbar.com on a breezy Boxing Day morning, the brothers - Ganesh and Kumaresh - reveal their insightful minds.
What is the advantage of playing together?
Kumaresh has a ready-made answer. "We share. We argue. We fight. We come to a consensus. We have grown like this. We have grown the art also this way,'' he says. Since they know each other and play together, they are able to work up a perfect alignment in terms of communication, co-ordination and execution. More than anything else, their joint playing, according to Kumaresh, has fostered family unity. "We retain our individual characters as artistes even as we perform together,’’ Ganesh adds quickly. "When we play, you can hear two distinct violins. They are differently sounding but merge into one,'' Kumaresh says.
At this point, Ganesh interjects to emphasis that their playing is vastly different from others who play duet on the violin. "They try to play as one,'' he points out. The Ganesh-Kumaresh duo, however, tries to introduce new concepts into concert shows. The assimilation of a sound and its dissemination in different formats are crucial factor that distinguishes them from others. Use of vadhi and samvadhi phrases, the splitting of a note (into dwi-binna and tri-binna) and the like mark them out from the rest of the duet players. "These concepts have not been explored. All these exist in Shastras. Our present system of music is based on melody,'' Kumaresh says. "Sound is universal. We are working on different aspects of sound and trying to see how best they could be introduced on the stage,'' Ganesh adds. Basically, the brothers are trying to bring back to life different concepts of sound that are already there.
Gods have never been portrayed as singers. Goddess Saraswathi plays veena. Lord Krishna plays the flute. They go about giving a list of instruments Gods and Goddesses play. "No God is portrayed as a singer!'', points out Kumaresh. According to them, instrumentalists have been primarily instrumental in the success of vocalists.
Are they not worried about criticism?
Well, not a bit, says Kumaresh. "We never bother about criticism. We consult our guru and father. If he says okay, we go ahead with and don't bother about anything,'' he adds. According to Kumaresh, "music has to be heard. It should be enjoyed. And, not written. Unfortunately, it is taken over by English elitists of Chennai''.
What do they teach?
"They teach you the language, the compositions and what not. You only play compositions and not music,'' he points out. "We need to teach pure music - a music that is powerful to communicate. We need to teach ragas and talas,'' he goes on to add. Ganesh is convinced that music is all about sound. Kumaresh is of the view that artistes should be left free. He does not agree with the oft-repeated "the art is bigger than the artiste'' talk. "If there is no artiste, there will be no art,’’ argues he.
What does music or violin mean to them?
"It is life. Life is music. It brings lot of contentment,'' avers Ganesh.
What do they want to achieve in music?
"Just keep playing music. Open up new idioms for the music world and make them contemporary,'' says Kumaresh. The "introductory face-to-face session' with the violin brothers has brought out the clarity in their thinking and purpose in their outlook.
Violin brothers Ganesh & Kumaresh want music to be a subject in school