A pianist on a mission to create ‘positivity’ with music

By Ankit Sinha

New Delhi: The country has been rocked with controversies like the Dadri lynching, rape assaults and attack on freedom of speech. But with the power of music, pianist Anil Srinivasan hopes to “contribute positively and creatively” to a world where grudges and blame-games are the order of the day.

“Unfortunately, the country is in very a weird situation. We are very polarised. There is leftist liberalism and there is the right wing.

“Anything that is music, something happening to a person getting lynched for beef, everything is getting political, everything is becoming humongous,” Srinivasan, who hopes to pioneer a piano tradition in India with his new album “Touch”, told IANS in an interview.

“We are losing the proportion of our country itself. We are committing a lot of violence, not just against human bodies but against the spirit of what this country should represent,” he added.

Srinivasan, whose “Touch” is set to release this week, says his focus is on creating a piano tradition, thereby playing a part in “taking the attention away from negativity and doing something creative.”

“Rather than creating grudges and playing the blame game, it is so much better and important that we contribute creatively. So, we haven’t had a piano tradition, let’s create one. Let’s look at contributing positively.” the musician noted.

“As artistes, we can all speak up, but what is more important is that we keep the tradition going. Look at the ‘aam jan’, the everyday person, we are all concerned about our ‘roti’, ‘kapda’, ‘makaan’, and keeping the traditions going, which the next generation can follow,” he added.

Talking more about this new album “Touch”, Srinivasan said that he has explored how the piano can have “different sounds within the Indian context”.

Furthermore, he said: “We have had a keyboard tradition, but no piano tradition”.

“Even though the piano was even a part of old Bollywood, we don’t really associate it as a solo instrument. It is under-represented. It is time that we started having a collection of CDs, a body of work which would represent the Indian piano tradition,” he said.

Interestingly, the album features a piano rendition of “Vaishnava jana to”, the immortal bhajan penned by poet-saint Narsinh Mehta in the 15th century.

Srinivasan performed the track with flute player Rakesh Chaurasia as a “tribute to the the victim of Nirbhaya”.

“Rakesh Chaurasia and I played it live in England three years ago. It was performed in a dramatic way. We both were blindfolded, it was a time when the Nirbhaya case happened. We performed it on the day when the media furore was on its peak.

“The song is about compassion and ours is a culture of tremendous heritage and culture and a history of respecting women for a very long time. Continuously, we decided to play in a matter. It doesn’t matter who we are playing to, but we should be blind for the people. That is what is great about India,” he said.

“People were writing about India in a very derogatory manner and the track was a tribute to the victim of Nirbhaya”.

The musician also stressed on the importance of writing original music.

“We are in need of a lot of originality. Doing a cover version is very easy, but the point is that we are a country which has always contributed original ideas in all spheres. Even if I can play a small role in the construction of a tradition, then maybe other musicians will take it to the next step,” he added.

“Touch”, which will be out on November 1, will be available on iTunes. The album will also feature three music videos, which will be unveiled throughout next month.