Mangaluru, Dec 20, 2016: Pointing out that Indian musicians are extremely conservative and traditional and are not open to new ideas or revolutionary products unlike west, said G Raj Narayan, an engineer-cum-musician from Bengaluru.
Narayan, founder and MD of Radel Electronics, a pioneer in the field of digital electronic musical instruments for Indian music, notes this factor has been a dampener to his continued efforts in inventing new products. "Westerners are open to using a keyboard, even a completely new drum pads which are played like conventional instruments," he said. "I wish our musicians open up and be receptive to technology," he added, but rues not only artistes, but organizers too insist use of traditional instruments and not synthesisers on stage.
An accomplished flautist, Narayan was attracted to finding an electronic solution to his problems of practising classical Carnatic music at home in 1970.
This resulted in the development of his first home built electronic Sruthi box, which was also demonstrated along with the electric veena in 1971. Till then, it was only a bellows and reed operated harmonium sruthi box that was universally used across the country. This required a person to operate the bellows continuously that also involved a small amount of skill. As the traditional sruthi box used a mechanical reed, it was not tunable. The electronic instrument could play by itself for hours on end, once set to a particular sruthi using tuning knobs. It was also much lighter and compact. This development was followed up with the invention of the ’Talometer’, an audio-visual taalam aid for Carnatic music, in 1978. This allowed this author to practice his music independently whenever and for as long as he wanted, a convenience not so far available to instrumental musicians.
He says: Now more than inventions, what we try to do is upgrade existing instruments which we have been making from the past three decades. Like smart phones and connectivity has seen upgrades from 2G to 4G, there have been changes coming in electronic musical instruments. Better technology, better chip helps us make instruments more capable and miniaturisation possible.
He initially went into create musical instrument - a practise aid - to solve his own problem not to depend on others sit and play and tambura and put the tala during his flute practise. ``These are all practise aids. Only in case of Veena, I have tried to address a playable instrument to address its deficiencies,’’ he said.
He observes that just like the development of the Digital Veena synthesizer, it is also possible for development of various other Indian musical instruments so as to enrich our musicians as well as audiences to greater heights of creativity and pleasure. ``Innovation and creativity have no limits and it is up to the younger generation of Indians to take this process forward in the years to come,’’ he adds.
Radel has invented, designed and manufactured a wide range of Digital Indian musical instruments starting as a tiny unit in a garage in 1979. The products cater to very precise and artistic needs of a musician