Saturday, December 21, 2019

Total solar eclipse in Moola Nakshatra- Veena practice

                                                           GODDESS SARASWATI
Total solar eclipse is going to take place in Moola nakshatra on 26th December roughly between 8.00 am to 11.30 am. Eclipse of Sun in Moola nakshatra, 4th pada (in transit at 09:46 degrees) occurs when Moon (in Moola, 4th pada) passes between Earth and Sun, completely blocking Sun from Earth's view. Other planets involved in the eclipse and transiting Moola nakshatra are Mercury, in Moola, 1st pada  (00:53 degrees) and Jupiter in Moola, 4th pada (11:09 degrees). Two other planets Saturn in Poorvashadha 4th pada  (26:34 degrees) and Ketu in Poorvashadha 1st pada (14:26 degrees) are in the same zodiac (Sagittarius/Dhanur Rasi) though not in the eclipsed constellation which is Moola.
Moola being the seat of Saraswati is ideal for practising original acoustic Saraswati Veena and listening to Saraswati Suktham of Rig Veda. Practice of Veena during this particular eclipse will yield abundant benefits. Prayers to Lord Anjaneya ( belonging to Moola Nakshatra) also yields great results

Friday, December 20, 2019

Acoustic Veena in Cinema

Earlier Veena functioned entirely as an acoustic instrument. Veena never had a contact mike    (or even an acoustic pickup) while recording in studios.  In studio recordings Veena was recorded by a normal voice mike (placed on a stand) and facing the instrument. Amazingly this proved to be the best and most sensitive mike which had the capacity to pick up the most minute details and nuances of Veena music. In recent times Veenas are plugged in even inside recording studios, whether it is in Cinema/All India Radio/Compact Disc recording studios. The Veenas use pickups/contact mikes that are directly plugged into the recording console or into a portable amp/speaker in front of which a voice mike is placed. Veena loses its natural tone when plugged in for studio recordings.

Late Sri.Chittibabu had recorded his Veena in many films of my father, film music director, late Sri.G.Aswathama.
                                                         LATE SRI.G.ASWATHAMA
In all my father's songs Sri.Chittibabu'sVeena was recorded directly by a stand mike and without the usage of contact mike/ pickup. 

My father's hit song from the telugu film "Annaa Thammudu" in the year 1958 -Veena by Sri.Chittibabu (Use earphones)

All through my involvement in the field of Cinema (films in Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil from the year 1965 to 2000) I had used the voice mike for my Veena and I had never used the pickup/contact mike for recording and re-recording sessions. My concerts for the All India Radio were also recorded through the voice mike and without pickup/contact mike.




MY ACOUSTIC VEENA AND MY VOICE ( the song required an amateur female singer. Primarily I was assigned to play Veena in this song and after much thought from my side the decision to mix my amateurish voice was taken in the last minute.) WITH S.P.BALASUBRAMANIAM IN RAJAHAMSA (1998). 
(The English wordings I sang as shown on screen are wrong and hilarious!!) The correct words are- First BGM "Is this love or is that how I feel? Is it magic or is love so real? I want to find this place of ecstasy so is this love, someone tell me please." Second BGM-" Love is a special thing it never grows old. It can make you laugh, it can make you sing, it can't  be bought, it can't be sold!" 
(Use earphones)

Sunday, December 15, 2019


                                                              AKG Contact Mike

There are 2 types of contact mikes. The acoustic contact mike (for eg., one of the many acoustic contact mikes is AKG as in the above photograph. Percussion instruments like ghatam make use of AKG for their instruments) picks up the essentially acoustic nature of an instrument, in other words the sound waves and frequencies conducted within the wood grains are also contacted and picked up by the acoustic contact mike. The divine qualities of the Veena are not sacrificed as this mike enhances the true tone (including sound frequencies in the wood grains which lend an unique aura to the resonance of strings).

HOW TO RECOGNIZE BY SOUND- Essentially acoustic. The wholesome tone due to the combo of wood and string make the Veena nadam ethereal. The player's penance is evident in the enhancement of nada (resonance) due to transmission of life force energy from player into the Veena.

The magnetic mike is bigger and rectangular in shapr. This is most often placed bang next to the topmost fret (or Tharasthayi shadjamam) of the Veena and right under the strings where the player uses his/her right hand forefinger and middle finger to pluck the strings. In some cases it's placed right next to the bridge too.The magnetic mike does not pick up resonance of wood. Therefore the acoustic nature of an instrument like Veena is stubbed out and the instrument is transformed into an electric instrument. When Veena transforms from acoustic to electric, the instrument loses its innate divine qualities. The nabhi (the prana shakthi arising from the mooladhara chakra) involvement of the player fails to establish contact with the Veena. 

HOW TO RECOGNIZE BY SOUND-Sounds like a guitar, sitar, or an alien instrument depending on the levels of tone adjustments on the mixer-mike system. Absence of aura and body provided by wood are starkly evident. Monotonous and even tone which are uncharacteristic features of a Veena. Gimmicks like producing sound through left hand movements (without plucking the string with right hand) is a common feature.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


                                                                  JACKFRUIT TREE


There is enough evidence of sacredness associated with the Jackfruit Tree. Lord Krishna has always chosen the Jackfruit tree to either appear under it as Guruvayoorappan or to instruct the King of Manipur (in the 18th century) in his dream to carve out His images from it. 7 images of Lord Krishna were carved out of the Jackfruit tree and placed in temples in Manipur and Assam. In Imphal , Sri Govind temple has one of these 7 idols.
Lord Krishna had appeared as Guruvayoorappan under Jackfruit tree and the same is being worshipped in Sri Krishna temple in Neyyattinkara, Kerala.
Jackfruit tree is recognised as a sacred tree of Kaliyuga and known as the "Protector Tree" (Chaitya Vriksha). The leaves of the Jackfruit tree are an antidote for snakebites. One of the Pancha Mahavadyas used in rituals in Kerala temples  is Idakka (originating from Lord Shiva's Damaru) which is made out of Jackfruit wood. Idakka is also known as God's own instrument! It is believed that the divine vibrations of the Jackfruit wood Idakka activates the kundalini  (life-force energy) of the player as well as the listeners.
Another instrument made out of Jackfruit wood is the divine thavil, which is a percussion instrument for nadaswaram. Senior most and renowned thavil vidwans swear by the quality, age and seasoning of the Jackfruit wood. They highly recommend Jackfruit wood from Sri Lanka. Mridangam, the masterly percussion instrument gets its majestic tone from Jackfruit wood. 
While the Idakka, Thavil and Mridangam respect their God-given timbre and revel in the wood-generated tone by using only acoustic mike, it's surprising that many Veenas have disregarded the divine significance of  Jackfruit wood by patronising the usage of magnetic pickup.  
The magnetic pickup recognises only magnetic strings. Magnetic pickup has no use for the  Jackfruit wood and disconnects itself from the God-given vibrations that emanate from this sacred wood. The true tone of Veena is lost once the Jackfruit wood's resonance (naadam) is cut off. Therefore Veena loses its original richness of tone while the skeletal magnetic strings serve only in transforming the tone of the Veena into that of an alien electric guitar. 
On the other hand magnetic mikes facilitate gimmicks like the rendition of the entire gamut of 2 octaves on the Veena dandi and producing sound by using just the left hand and without using the right hand for plucking the string (owing to its uncharacteristically even and continuous tone) which is often misinterpreted as virtuosity and technical brilliance. Further, due to the inaccessibility of  Jackfruit wood, the magnetic mike seeks to replace the tonal richness of Jackfruit wood through advanced mixer-amplification system in order to glamourise the anaemic tone of strings sans wood. 
The true tone of an acoustic Saraswati Veena is not unnaturally even and monotonous like that of a magnetic-pickup Veena , the true tone of an acoustic Saraswathi Veena comes from Jackfruit wood. The rich wood-vibrations bring out wholesome nuances and musical aesthetics through tonal modulation that elevate the player spiritually.

Refer to previous postings ( Pure tone of acoustic Saraswati Veena and Golden Era- Glory of Original Acoustic Saraswati Veena by Yesteryear Legends for true tone of Veena).

Monday, December 9, 2019

Golden Era- Glory of Original Acoustic Saraswati Veena by yesteryear legends


1. Late Mysore Sri.Doraiswamy Iyengar, 2. Late Smt.Kalpagam Swaminathan, 3. Late Sri.Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, 4. Late Sri.Trivandrum R.Venkataraman, 5. Late Sri.K.S.Narayanaswamy, 6. Late Sri.Emani Sankara Sastri, 7. Late Sri. Vasa Krishnamurthy, 8. Late Smt. Ranganayaki Rajagopalan, 9. Late Sri.Chittibabu

Above are selected recordings of a few of the many yesteryear legends who were acclaimed and great Saraswati Veena ( original/acoustic) artistes. Today, there are very few original Saraswati Veena stage performers due to the invasion of Electric Guitarish "Veenas" ( made of Red Cedar wood ) Saraswati Veenas are made out of the sacred Jackfruit wood, the resonance of which is enhanced by acoustic contact mike or pickup. The resonance of the trendy Electric "Veena" is enhanced by magnetic pickups/ contact mikes which do not pickup the acoustic nature of the Veena and is totally detached from vibrations generated by the Jackfruit wood.

Watch for further detailed and investigative articles revealing all there is to know bringing to light how the trendy electric "Veena" and the original acoustic Saraswati Veena are not one and the same.


RADHASHTAMI - 23rd September, 2023