Spanish Veena: A new member in Indian classical music family

Posted by Kaahon Desk On May 9, 2018

Over the last few years, with the emergence of new technical advancements, the creative art has witnessed a conscious attempt of experimentation in its every aspect. The music, an invaluable part of this artistic heritage, has observed these changes and experimentations in the forms of both orchestration and fusion. Owing to their harmonic and orchestral essence and a considerable tonal efficacy, the utilization of western musical instruments over time has been assimilated into the traditional Indian classical music; which in turn, has resulted in an instantaneous growth in usage of the common musical instruments like, harmonium, violin, guitar or even synthesizer by both the Indian and western artists. At the same time, notable fusion works have started to get arranged and orchestrated as well. Although said to have begun with Ali Akbar Khan’s 1955 performance in the United States, Indian fusion gained prominence only after the Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, in collaboration with Bud Shank on jazz, took the centre stage. Subsequently, in this new trend of music, instruments that feature similarities in bearing between these two schools of music, began to take precedence. As an instance, the harmonium, originally a western instrument, is now considered to be an essential Indian classical musical instrument. As a matter of fact, the Indian cello was conceptualised by Eduard van Tongeren in collaboration with Saskia Rao. Similarly, the emergence of the new instruments like Mohan Veena, Shankar Veena, Zitar, Hans Veena and now recently, the Spanish Veena have spectacularly widened the perspective and opportunities of this experimentation in music.

Sachin Patwardhan is one of the new members of the school of music that has actually experimented with Indian classical music in Western musical instruments and has popularised it to a great extent. The exponents of this school are legends like Pandit V. G. Log, Dr. L. Subramonium, Pandit Brij Bhushan Kabra, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya and others.

Sachin initially started with Guitar and discovered his taste for the Indian classical music only after listening to Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, of whom he became a disciple later on. A prominent Sarod player, active for almost 25 years, Sachin Patwardhan took up Guitar again due to acute Paronychia. By introducing some new strings and making slight alterations, Patwardhan has modified the familiar Electric Guitar in such a way that now a range of Indian classical music from Alaap, Jor and Jhala to Gamak, Meends and Murkis can be played on the instrument. He has named this instrument ‘Spanish Veena’ simply because the instrument, a Spanish Guitar in all practicality, emanates the unique sound of the Veena. Sachin believes that the idea of Indianness is embedded in our very culture and thereby in our unconscious. He also feels that sound is now being used for the sake of mere market profitability, despite its elegance. Though he asserts that even in this laxity, proficient musical works will definitely stand out no matter what. Influenced by his Guru, Patwardhan has some unique observations on artistic individuality that has been manifested in his performances.

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