The latest album by violinist Kumaresh R and veena artiste Jayanthi Kumaresh, Run with SA, with its thumping rhythms and cadence is perfect for workouts. The five-track, 36-minute long album has warm-up tracks, fast-paced and cool down pieces based on Carnatic ragas, garnished with a dash of African Malian phrases, and some Cuban and Brazilian pop. The album was born when someone in the Kumareshs’ walking group spoke of the need to have a playlist while on the run.
“The music is composed specially for workouts using the Carnatic raga and tala format,” says Kumaresh. “We perceive rhythm everywhere including in the way our heart beats. It was interesting to match the speed of the music with the rhythm of a workout.”
The SA in the name of the album is an acronym for Strings Attached (the Kumareshs’ production house), says Jayanthi. ‘“Sa’ is also a musical note.” The musical duo researched fashioning melody into diverse tempos. “We also researched the exact work-out requirements — the duration, varied pace and stages of workout to ensure the music fitted into the BPM (beats per minute) followed during workouts,” says Kumaresh.
Apart from Jayanthi and Kumaresh, percussionist Pramath Kiran on recording, mixing, editing and Shadrach Solomon on the keyboards have brought out the right texture and arrangements for the album.
“With regard to the different instruments used, there are about 40 to 50 tracks in each song. They are all sample sounds of various instruments, both melodic and rhythmic, to enhance the soundscape of each track,” says Kumaresh.
Carnatic music by default is accommodative to human emotions and expressions, says Kumaresh. “The genre has no restrictive, time-bound or seasonal ragas. We can play or practise any raga at any given time. When we sat to compose for this album, all the phrases, melodies, rhythmic cycles fell into place.”
The couple made use of the lockdown to go into a creative overdrive. Jayanthi used the veena to tell stories in her Cup O Carnatic series and Kumaresh set up fiddlingmonk.com with more than 600 videos on the art of playing the Indian violin.