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For him, music is worship

ARUNA CHANDARAJU

Like all musical geniuses, Pinakapani's involvement in music was complete, permeating his personal life too.



Sripada Pinakapani.

"Music is the dance of sound," the legendary musician Sripada Pinakapani tells me as I sit beside him at his Kurnool home. At 93, this music phenomenon's memory is still sharp and his speech, clear. But whenever he illustrates a point by singing, the golden voice, albeit weak, sounds nearly as perfect as it was in his heyday.

Pinakapani is known for his richly creative music, melodious voice, erudition, and pristine purity of his classical idiom.

A medical doctor, he is considered a musician of the highest integrity, and an outstanding teacher having moulded the likes of Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana, Malladi Suri Babu, the Malladi Brothers and many others.

Hard to believe, but this was the man who, as a child, scorned all advice that he too learn music! "Music is only for girls, not boys and men!" he would scoff. His own sister was then being tutored by Mysore B.S.Lakshmana Rao. However, Pinakapani would often pause to listen to his sister practising and actually detect mistakes and correct her!

Finally, his father and Rao persuaded him to take up music. So, at 11, he began lessons. After the basics, Rao taught him the first kriti, "Gajanana Sada Yanuchu" (Todi) with swarakalpana!

Remarkably, Pinakapani wrote his own notation for the lyric! About 50 kritis were learnt this way.

Rao would take Pinakapani to kutcheris and if there was a particularly striking rendition, Rao would meet the performer the next day and request that he teach his disciple that item. In the brief one hour or so that the performer had before leaving town, he would teach Pinakapani.

Like all musical geniuses, Pinakapani's involvement in music was complete, permeating his personal life too. For instance, he used to cycle to school and college. He searched doggedly for a cycle-bell suited to his sruti and fixed it to his cycle so he could sing while cycling! And his instinctive method of remembering numbers was by relating them to Melakartha raga numbers. So his own telephone number was/is remembered as two Charukesis flanked by Rathnangis! A car number 3654 became Chakravaka Sankarabharanam!

Believer of self-effort

Pinakapani believes a great deal in Swayamkrushi or self-effort. So, he relentlessly worked on widening his repertoire, improving his style and developing his manodharma. One method was to seek out greats and learn from their precepts and example. He imbibed a great deal just by constant listening to stalwarts. He could notate immediately anything he heard from anyone, and analyse, compare and contrast the knowledge thus gathered from different sources. He then built on this understanding with his own creativity and fertile imagination to evolve his individual style.

A great admirer of Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Pinakapani says "Ariyakkudi brought elegance to music." Pinakapani's other idol was Veena Dhanammal whose Friday evening recitals he would attend whenever possible. Pinakapani also spent three months in the highly stimulating atmosphere of violin maestro Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu's school. He also recalls with gratitude his vidyagurus, T.Vasudevan and R. Rangaramanuja Iyengar, friends and mentors.

A man who believes in art for art's sake, Pinakapani says music is an act of worship of the divine.

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