Child prodigy adds Carnatic flavour to guitar
A young disciple of Guitar Prasanna, Gokul Shyamsundar wants to introduce the T20 format into Carnatic music and present a crisp instrumental concert without losing the essence of the traditional art form
“I started loving Carnatic music after listening to these two stalwarts. When my parents put me into Carnatic vocal classes, I tried to play all that I learnt on the guitar. However, I was not very happy with what I was playing and wanted to be more proficient in playing Carnatic. After many attempts and evaluation, Guitar Prasanna sir accepted me as his student,” says the 14 years old. He picked up the guitar because he thought it was a ‘cool’ instrument.
“I fell in love with it, almost the moment I set my eyes on it,” the youngster explains. Though one of the popular instruments played across the world, the guitar is not a significant instrument in the Carnatic music world.
“This is probably because not many people play Carnatic music on the guitar. But I would love to hear more people play Carnatic music on the guitar, therefore making it a mainstream Carnatic music instrument. This, in turn, will help people across the globe enjoy Carnatic music as the guitar is a widely played instrument the world over.”
The young prodigy is committed to the cause of Carnatic music and has the conviction to unleash the potential of the instrument to make the classical form accessible and appealing to the younger generation. To make this a reality, he is constantly experimenting with form and packaging of Carnatic music.
“We live in a fast-paced world, where attention span is very short. We are looking for music with a great sense of rhythm. I really think that bringing the T20 format into Carnatic music is the way forward. Carnatic music has a number of short, peppy and sweet renditions. My idea is to present a crisp instrumental concert without losing the essence of the traditional art form that is relevant to the current times. I hope this will be accepted by the younger audience and Carnatic lovers as well,” says the talented guitarist.
Gokul’s 45 seconds video titled Wa terfall swaras in ragam kedaragowlai along with Prasanna went viral on social media, prompting renowned British Jazz critic Rob Garatt to write a special feature.
Speaking of his relationship with Prasanna, Gokul says, “My guru is truly one of the most encouraging and down-to-earth human beings I’ve known. He has always allowed me the space to explore and learn things on my own and constantly be around to lend me a helping hand. This has really helped me become confident with my music.
What’s also exciting about him is that he not only educates me in music but also in all other aspects related to it — attitude, teamwork, a sense of open-mindedness, et al. It’s always great to be around him.”
Talking about his plans for future, the youngster shares, “Playing the guitar makes me very happy, I want to become a full-time musician, play lots of music and make people happy. The way we listen to music has changed dramatically. Facebook, Youtube, Spotify, Smule, etc have created new dimensions.
It is a lot easier to create the personal experience for the listener anywhere. So I want to learn and put these tools to good use so that my music can become personalised and reach to many listeners across the world. If Carnatic music can help in making people joyful and be at peace — that would be wonderful.”
Gearing up for his concert in Chennai on June 16 at Music Academy, Gokul admits he can’t contain his excitement.
“After all, it’s the ground zero of Carnatic music and I am looking forward to it,” he sums up.