Tuesday, March 31, 2020


SARASWATI VEENA:- When I say Saraswathi Veena, it means the original acoustic seasoned Jack Wood Veena. The "Veenas" made out of Cashew, Kodukkapuli and Thoongamunji tree wood are not to be included under the Saraswathi Veena category. These instruments sell under the name of "Veena" owing to their shape but they are totally devoid of divine properties and characteristics which are inherent in Jack wood. Only seasoned Jack wood Veena has the innate purity and divinity required to enhance the tone of the instrument to celestial levels. To know about how the prana of the player is invoked while playing Veena kindly refer to my earlier posts-Veena/Gayathri Mantra/ Upanishads, Veena Rahasya and Deiva Veena-Maanushi Veena. 

WOOD AND PRANA OF VEENA PLAYER- How does a Veena produce sound? The sound you hear a Veena producing is a result of that air vibrating within the instrument. How does this happen? Plucking a string causes the string to vibrate. The vibration of the string causes the top of the Veena to vibrate, the vibration of the top of the Veena enters the hollow (kudam) causing the bottom of the Veena which in turn passes through out the Veena Dandi causing the entire Veena to vibrate. The air caught within the Veena vibrates along with the Jack wood of the Veena. An acoustic mike picks up the acoustic vibration of the entire instrument. The complete acoustic mechanics of any stringed instrument completely depend upon the way in which the various pieces of wood transfer the vibrational energy of the strings into the box of the air. Different kinds of wood resonate differently and thus transfer that energy differently, and as such, the kind and quality of wood of a Veena makes all the difference in its sound.
During the Veena rendition, the  pranic energy of the Veena player travels through the wood grains of Jack wood heightening the resonance of the Veena which in turn invokes the Ojas of the Veena player. The mutual interaction of the Jack wood Veena and the  the Veena player fuses the player and the Veena together in a golden glow.
The most important point to note is that the Veena player's energy which travels through the wood grains of the Jack wood Veena during the Veena play does not leave the Jack wood as soon as the player stops playing. The Veena player's energy remains intact in the Jack wood as well as the hollow dome and 'dandi' of the Veena!  Through his rendition the Veena player secures his life outside his body and inside a Veena! What is the significance of a Saraswathi Veena which contains human prana? And on the other hand what happens by transmitting one's energy to random wood?  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020




The wood that brings out the true resonance of a Veena is Jackfruit wood. Like Saint Thyagaraja's famous "Pancharatna Krithis" there are "Pancharatna Vrikshas". They are the 1)Jackfruit tree, 2) Blackwood Tree, 3) Margosa Tree, 4) Sandal Tree and 5) Coconut Tree.
I have already elaborated on the divine aspects of Jackfruit tree in my earlier postings. Apart from the Jack wood's  unique characteristics, the wood is also known to be absolutely fibrous and with not many pores. Above all the Jack wood , through appropriate seasoning is immunized to climatic changes.
The magnetic mike is the undesired third party that has caused the divorce between Veena and the wood which is the core and basis of Veena's inherent acoustic nature.
The advent of digital mixer-mikes (which are capable of producing tonal razzle-dazzle in place of true tones) has reduced the importance and involvement of wood to zero levels.
I have gathered information from my good technician friends (nearly 5 of them- names withheld on request) that 3 types of wood are being used in the making of a Veena. The reason is - 1) The functioning of the wood in Veena is rendered impotent by magnetic mike, 2) Scarcity of Jack wood and legal ban on cutting Jack wood in certain areas.

Wood from KODUKKAPULI  TREE, CASHEWNUT TREE and THUNGAMOONJI TREE (Samanea Saman in English also known as the Sleepy Tree, a highly Tamasic tree) are also being used for making Veenas. Sometimes Jack and the above mentioned three trees are mixed and marketed as "Veenas".

Sunday, March 22, 2020


"A Veena transforms into an electric veena when a contact mike/pickup is attached to its body"- is the statement of a layman who's ignorant of different types of contact mikes/pickups and their functioning. 
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF CONTACT MIKES/PICKUPS (1.Magnetic mike which cuts off original acoustic quality of Veena and 2. Acoustic contact mike which enhances the true acoustic quality of Veena):-
MAGNETIC MIKE:- Veena is transformed into an  ELECTRIC VEENA when this mike is attached to its body. The magnetic mike makes contact only with the strings of the Veena and suspends the acoustic properties of the wood in the instrument. Only magnetic strings are used for magnetic mike. The wood's resonance is not picked up by this mike. Therefore the advent of Electric Veena had begun only with the introduction of magnetic pickups. Saraswati Veena naadham is absent in this Veena and instead produces curious guitar/mandolin/ alien tones. To cover up for the missing true naadham an Electric Veena  artificially colours and jazzes up its dead-wood tone through advanced/modern mixer-mike systems.

ACOUSTIC CONTACT MIKE/PICKUP:-This picks up the basic resonance of wood as well as the strings enhancing the true quality of a Saraswati Veena. Original Saraswathi Veena is essentially an acoustic instrument and is not designed to function like an electric guitar. When Veena attaches a magnetic mike to function like an electric Veena (making Veena sound like a bass/electric guitar) the acoustic core of Saraswati Veena responsible for producing the "Veena Naadham" is sacrificed. For samples of true tone of Veena refer to my article on this blog- Golden Era- Glory of Original Acoustic Saraswati Veena by yesteryear legends ( the legends featured here are using acoustic mikes).

For further clarification one may check out different contact mikes used for acoustic guitars and electric/bass guitars.

Saturday, March 21, 2020


"Madam, I want to bring to your notice that a certain artist from the Carnatic field who is famous due to public relations (name withheld) is trying to enter the university to turn it into a music sabha.... I am alert about the machinations of this artist through well-placed friends." I thought of the publicity crazy corporate head and the amateur musician with powers assisting this artist but chose not to mention their names.
She frowned "No no...don't allow it. I know about ...."
"No Madam, I am taking full care."
"Good." She nodded, looking serious.
"Madam, for the next Syndicate I request nomination of experts from other fields such as fashion, cinema, visual communication, sculpture, painting etc. The general opinion that the university can't function beyond Carnatic music and Bharathanatyam should be erased. This is necessary for the expansion and development of the university, further this will correct the approach of artists such as mentioned above to convert that Tamil Nadu Music and Fine Arts University into a music sabha for purely selfish gains."
"Ya, send the list of nominees to.... "
I hastily interrupted, "Madam, please,  I want to give you the list in person." I couldn't disguise the anxiety and appeal in my voice as the horrific memory of trying to retrieve and rectify my previous list of  nominees flashed across my mind. 
"When is the tenure of Syndicate members expiring?"
"In another one and a half years Madam."
"That's a long way.  What are the immediate issues?"
" For 2016 JAYAM I would like to conduct Srinivasa Kalyanam by Tirumala Tirupathi Devsthanams on your star birthday Makham instead of February 24th which is your birth date. Madam, I request you to grace the function. I will make elaborate and grand arrangements. Please Madam, please don't refuse." My voice ended on an appeal. 
She smiled " 2016 February will be crucial what with election campaigning etc. You can have it in 2017."
Words stuck in my throat and I couldn't bring myself to tell her that my Vice Chancellor's tenure would be ending on November 18th, 2016.
I nodded silently.
"How is administration?" 
Her gentle question threw me off-guard.
I quickly looked at her and knew I had to convey vital information in the most concise manner. I said unflinchingly, "I feel like and unarmed cop. My job needs me to be bold, vigilant and tough. I am very bold and I don't find this tough to handle."
"Very good." My spirits lifted at her appreciative tone and twinkle in her eyes as she smiled at me.
" Madam, I need to meet you when there's something important." 
She smiled in return.  She began to look distracted as she called out for someone.
I rose from my seat, "I'll take leave Madam!"



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