Find your voice, right way
It is an exciting world that Ananth Vaidhyanathan has discovered.
This generation relates to a subject in terms of what it gets out of it and not by what it masters
Photo: R. Shivaji Rao
SCIENCE BEHIND SINGING: Ananth Vaidyanathan.
Ananth Vaidhyanathan, a product from XLRI, entered the realm of music more than two decades ago, and studied the human voice with great keenness. And he came up with suggestions that would help musicians attain peak performance levels and recover t
heir “lost” voices. Incidentally, Ananth’s voice has wings and he is an uninhibited singer.
“I was a disciple of T.M.Thiagarajan and was drawn towards Hindustani music by its sweetness and freedom of expression and joined the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, in 1980. I slowly understood that I had a lot to learn.” Then he lost his voice, which he found, thanks to Sunil Bose, who also introduced Ananth to the immensely exciting world of voice engineering and voice culture.
Search for technique
Ananth’s search for the right technique took him to Europe and in 1991 found a guide in Prof. Peter Calatin.
“I brought him to India in 1993 and 1994 and my gayaki improved, thanks to Pt. Chaurasia too. My voice became a heavy classical one though I preferred a light one. I took ill again and while in bed realised that I was rather bent on succeeding than enjoying music.”
Peter Calatin had imbibed the principles expounded by Frederick Husler, “a rishi.” Ananth and Peter studied our voice-culture, the first scientific study of the voices of MS, KVN, and Balamuralikrishna. Ananth now analyses SPB, Kishore, Rafi, Latha, Asha, Kishori Amonkar, Girija Devi and scores of other singers.
“How did they maintain their voices as they are able to sing well even to this day?” With them voice-culture might have been instinctive. An analysis is needed to get to the crux of it.
“Voice culture is the coming together of an understanding of science (to a high degree) with the physical feel of the voice. You will have to understand the terms anchoring, focusing, erection and fusion of the voice itself.”
Ananth demonstrates “focusing” by way of three distinguishing categories — Operatic (Western), Kishore Kumar, and Balamuralikrishna — to give a clearer picture. Ananth then sings a refined piece from KVN that amply drives home the concept of “anchoring” too. “It was Prof. Peter Calatin who observed this anchoring-act of KVN,” Ananth adds acknowledging the efforts made by T.V.Gopalakrishnan and Aruna Sairam to study voice culture.
Ananth, together with Peter, has made MS a case study. He sings “Adharavatravargal Ellam” with a clearly open-voice, just as MS, and then quickly switches to sing “Engum Niraindhaye” to show what an amazing recording sensibility she had. “She or Lata or Asha were all musicians in the first place and they surrendered themselves to music. Stardom was incidental coming to them as they progressed.”
Regarding sadhakam… “The human voice,” Ananth says, “has high resilience. I have been speaking from 9 to 6 today, but I can still sing for four hours feeling minimal strain. That is because I know the natural technology that is involved in sound production by the human body and also know that it would peak after a few hours.
“It is the body that produces music. Push it to its capacity and then rest. If your voice gets troublesome as you sing your technique requires examination.”
One’s natural pitch should depend more on the thickness or thinness of the voice and not on the extent of your current range and one should always allow scope for the voice to open out.
“I have in fact advised a number of people to change their pitch and use it accordingly. Correct usage again is not my magic but the magic of the human body. Voice problems will disappear once you make the right aesthetic choice and do away with some needless roadblocks. The way the mouth is opened and the timing matter in attaining genuine musical excellence.”
How does our present generation look at Music or Art?
“This generation relates to a subject in terms of what it gets out of it and not by what it masters. The youth master multiple skills and brilliantly analyse. But sadly, the trend in everything, including music, has now become gratification oriented. One has lost touch with one’s own body, with the expanse of time, the power of silence, stillness and the simplicity of life. Excellence comes from crystallisation. It is within you and it is for you to enter that level of consciousness through sadhana.” Mumbai-based Ananth Vaidyanathan ( firstname.lastname@example.org) can be reached at 2843069.
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