A little while ago, I performed at a concert with the Thayir Sadam Project. They are a group of four brilliant young musicians: Ambi Subramaniam, Bindu Subramaniam (children of the legendary violinist Dr L. Subramaniam), Mahesh Raghvan and Akshay Anantapadmanabhan. We were joined by a group of energetic and talented kids who are students of SaPa Music Academy (a school founded by Bindu and Ambi Subramaniam).
The first time I met the Thayir Sadam Project members, I was convinced that it was going to be a great collaboratory experience. Besides being full of enthusiasm and passion, they are extremely dexterous with electronic medium. It was amazing to see how they take audio notes, record things soon after we discuss new ideas, and then organise and manage all these files. These are abilities that I’m aware I need to improve on in my own self, so observing them was both interesting and informative.
When I was learning and was an up-and-coming musician, things were done very differently – everything had to be stored in my head, I had to manually take notes, and notate every phrase. That was the only way for me to store and retrieve information! So, it was wonderful to see that now there are such technically better methods of doing this…
For the concert, we took some songs from my repertoire and some from Thayir Sadam Project’s repertoire.
I had chosen-
Kalinga narthana tillana
Abhang – Vrindavani Venu
The ones’ from Thayir Sadam Project’s repertoire were
Bhaja Bhaja Dattam
Superheroes Without Capes
It was fascinating for me to see the transformation of my pieces when they were handled in conjunction with Thayir Sadam Project. The songs seemed to have taken a completely new avatar – they were neither mine nor theirs but something new and unique. But it wasn’t an easy journey. We worked very hard to perfect our pieces. The group came over to Chennai and we practised at my studio for a few days. Then we listened to our recordings and improved all the things we thought could be improved on.
During this time, we decided that we wanted to create a video of our star piece – Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu. This phrase is an ancient piece of Vedic text which means – let everyone in the world be happy. It refers to the highest form of well-wishing. If we wish to be happy alone, it won’t last long, as, soon jealousy, covetousness and dissatisfaction will creep in. Only in a world where everyone is happy, and everyone wishes everyone else to be happy, can we experience true happiness, joy, and contentment. This is the essence of ‘Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu’.
We started with this line as the basic idea for our song and further developed it by adding Kannada lyrics (by K. Rohini Subbarathnam), Tamil lyrics (by Rajalakshmi Balasubramaniam) on the same lines and added a part of the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, sung by Bindu Subramaniam.
We went to a beautiful farmhouse in Bangalore and shot the video for this song. It was very well received by our listeners and went on to become quite popular online. Coincidentally, Lady Gaga had Tweeted “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” around the same time as our video was released. (You can watch the video below.)
The concert was held at Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai. It was a very well-attended event and the audiences loved the music.
I always enjoy spending time with young musicians – people who are the future of our music and culture.
I’m very happy to have had this experience.