Prasanna's Carnatic Convergence Concept Produces Potent Panethnic Potion
AAJ: In terms of harmonic territory, are there particular sources that you would point interested people towards? What books or recordings would you particularly advise students of harmony, improvisation and time concepts to seek out?
P: My harmonic approach is something that I have been consciously working very hard over the last few years to make it more of a system. In short, much of my harmonic vocabulary is based out of carnatic ragas and even mathematical ideas. I sometimes use extreme dissonances and bi-tonality but compensate for it melodically and vice-versa. I also use pandiatonicism a lot to create an illusion of harmonic movement, particularly when the melodic material is in a major raga. I think its very important to get one's hear honed to modern harmony in terms of colors - bright, dark and the varying shades among them, rather than function. In modern music, it really doesn't matter what chord follows what as long as one is able to perceive a coloristic movement.
AAJ: : Are there some elements of improvisation that are particularly fruitful for you, concepts that you keep revisiting and/or reinventing that keep your playing and your lines cutting edge and fresh?
P: When I improvise, I mix and match between very linear and very angular phrasings. The linear part is coming out of Carnatic music consciousness and the angular part, with wider intervals, comes out of a jazz sensibility. One thing I consciously did was to not memorize any licks, even if they're my own. I kind of really like to get into pure improvisation and let the moment dictate what's going on. Even if I succeed rarely, it's worth it. Of course, I practice scales, arpeggios and other stuff to keep my fingers in good shape and keep learning the fingerboard. But going beyond that, I think improvisation stems more from life than technique.
AAJ: Any sideman work you'd like to hip the audience to? Or perhaps coming down the road?
P: I love to do sideman work. To me, the best way to learn about myself is to play other artists' music. It's a lot of fun. I do some sideman work here and there but I'd like to do a lot more.
AAJ: What aspects of your own playing style would you point listeners to? How would you attempt describing your own playing style?
P: My playing style is a result of what I would like to communicate to the listener through my music. I don't know how else to really describe my style.
AAJ: Do you have other concepts for other solo projects? Tell us about how the compositional approach will vary between them.
P: From time to time, I get some commissions to write for a more classical ensemble and when that happens, I get into a more rigorous compositional routine. One thing feeds the other and a musician, to me, is always in a constant state of artistic torment, I guess!
AAJ: Do you have any kind of a long-term musical career plan?
P: Sure, I do. But the main long-term plan I have is to continue to enjoy making music and make a conscious effort to involve people - listeners, musicians etcetera, into my world! People are precious to my aesthetic of music making and I owe it to them to let keep pushing.
AAJ: How do you feel about the effects of the internet on the music scene?
P: It's the greatest thing to have happened to music in a long time.
AAJ: With all you've got going on, how do you decide on which project to do next? Is there a lot of work you decline?
P: Interestingly, I don't decline that many projects. I usually get projects which I really enjoy. I am in a great situation right now, where I am very busy doing several projects around the year and yet am able to spend quite a bit of time at home and practice, or write and do other things away from music, like spending time with my wife.
AAJ: What do you think needs to happen for you and you projects to gain a bit more recognition?
P: If I knew that answer, you wouldn't be asking me this question today!
AAJ: How much unreleased music do you have written or demoed that you'd want to release?
P: Enough to fill up half a dozen CDs, I guess!
AAJ: What music holds your most extreme interest these days, and what of it may influence your next project or recording?
P: Well, I don't listen to music 24/7/365, so anything I listen to seems to have an effect on me. I am trying to listen to more African music and also Reggae at this point. I guess music which has great bass lines like Reggae, Funk, and Disco appeal to me instantly, at this present time, since my compositions tend to be quite bass line-oriented of late. Electronica has also been of interest. In fact, my new CD that's just been recorded is primarily that. Carnatic music, Jazz and Classical music are, of course, staples.
AAJ: What's in your cd case at the moment?
P: A few. Salif Keita, the Wassolou women of Africa, Bach's Goldberg Variations, Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard, Dolphy's Out to Lunch are a few of the things I've been listening to in the last few days.