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Those magical moments...

K.J. Yesudas, who was in the city recently in connection with the release of his latest album "Vintage Thriveni Sangamam," spoke about his passion for music.

ONE OF the best-known Indian singers who gave his sweat and blood for music, Kattaseril Joseph Yesudas needs no introduction. His voice today has become part of the collective consciousness of music lovers all over the country.

With more than 40,000 songs across various Indian languages and a number of accolades, including a Padma Bhushan to his credit, the hallmark of this gifted singer has been his never-ending quest for excellence. Like that of a pilgrim who goes on a pilgrimage in search of solitude.

Dressed in his trademark white and white, the `Ganagandharvan' of the Malayalis was here at the Park Sheraton recently, for the launch of his latest album.

Sitting in front of him, one's mind was packed with thousands of questions not knowing where to start and what to ask. Very little time and countless questions... Yet the conversation began, with topics flitting from his latest venture to the current trends in music and from the unsophisticated recording process of yesteryear to the need to inculcate discipline and hygiene in one's life. The discussion provided an insight into the artiste's personality.

His album aptly titled `Vintage Thriveni Sangamam' celebrates the first coming together of South Indian legends S.P. Balasubrahmanyam and K.S. Chitra, along with the maestro at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, London.

The cassette, which captures that magic moment, contains eight popular numbers from the films "Apoorva Raagangal", "Ninaithale Inikkum", "Thirisoolam", "Thenali", "Kandukondein Kandukondein", "Ek Dooje Ke Liye" and "Duet".

Said Yesudas, recalling their performance in front of a rapt British audience, "The acoustics and lighting in the hall were so perfect that one could experience the music without any variations. In fact, performing film songs live on stage is a great risk, as the audience will resent even the slightest difference from the original version."

Commenting on the changing trends in Indian music, the singer was of the view that the melodies of the day are dance-oriented with traces of Western pop. "Don't think that I am criticising. People today want songs to which they can shake a leg. They want movement. This might be a reflection of the change in trend. But it is not good. Your voice will get jammed," he said. For instance, to invoke Sri Rama there is no need to strain your vocal cords; you can do it in a melodious manner. He hummed a line to demonstrate the difference.

For a man to whom music is devotion, nothing mundane can wean him away from his quest for perfection. When Yesudas made his debut way back in 1961, the recording process was in an elementary stage. The artiste used to sing in the presence of the director and the technicians. " It was a laborious process, if there was any dissonance in rhythm between the technicians and the artiste, the entire crew would have to go for retakes till the song was recorded perfectly. There were times when we had 10 to 16 rehearsals," he said.

The singer also had a word of advice for the younger generation, "We should always try to learn good things from others. When it comes to technology the Westerners might be ahead of us but that doesn't prevent us from imbibing some of their good qualities such as discipline and hygiene. We need to develop these habits ourselves to inculcate them in our youngsters," he added.

SANGEETH KURIAN

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