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Thread: U. srinivas

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    U. Srinivas

    What in the heck. Has anyone heard of this guy? That is apparently a six string electric mandolin (not sure how the tuning works) he's playing and I'd never heard of him until I found him just now while looking for clips of lyre players.




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    I have several of his CD's. The guy is an absolute monster player and a master of South Indian (Carnatic) music. On what appears to be a Kent electric single course mando... These Indian musicians have an incredible way of integrating Western instruments into their classical music tradition, sometimes making major changes to the instruments, and sometimes just playing them in ways we never thought of.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    He started out with an 8-string mando but set it up for 5-string. Open tuning is CGCGC. Yes, there are 6 tuners on the headstock but he only uses 5 strings. In early photos the mandolin still has 8 tuners. Those instruments are built in India; it's definitely not a Kent. If you ask him who the builder is you won't get a straight answer.

    See him live if you get a chance. Fantastic.
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    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    He's also done some amazing performances and recordings in the Indian/jazz fusion vein with guitarist John McLaughlin.
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    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Paul Kotapish @ Oct. 13 2006, 03:27)
    He's also done some amazing performances and recordings in the Indian/jazz fusion vein with guitarist John McLaughlin.
    Yes, that was in "Remember Shakti"

    I've been listening to "Mandolin Ecstasy", which is totally amazing. He was around 11 years old at the time. Somehow he can hit all the notes between the fretted notes with bends that makes it hard to believe that it's mandolin.



    Larry




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    Josh Pinkham has caught my attention recently........made me want to smash my Mando, and burn it.
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    Check out the threads on U. Srinivas in the E-mando section here.

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    OK, it's Emperor's New Clothes time. Everyone knows it's not a mandolin - it's a toy electric guitar. It's not built like a mandolin, it's not tuned like one, or played like one. It doesn't sound like one. Not to detract from his musicianship, please, but it's an instrument that fit him when he was a kid looking for a performing niche. But it's really hard to market someone as maestro of the toy electric guitar. What else could they have called it? Ukulele? Nope. The irony is that he's kind of stuck with it, even though he's 37 years old now. (If I was in his shoes, I sure wouldn't switch - guitar players are a rupee-a-dozen.)



    Listen to the music, but don't get too hung up on the mandolin label.

    I was recently traveling back from St. Paul and going through airport security with an ancient Washburn roundback as carry-on, I was accosted by a baggage inspector, a lovely Indian woman from Chennai, which happens to be Ground Zero for carnatic music. She asked me to open the canvas case and asked what it was. I said it was a mandolin and she was simply astonished, "Oh, you have those in this country, too??" Her entire vision of mandolin is shaped around homeboy U. Srinivas.

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    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Pretty funny, Paul.

    Whatever the heck it is that he plays, he plays the heck out of it.

    I had the same sense about Tiny Moore's five-string, electric Bigsby rig. I loved his playing and I thought his electric thingie--even plugged into a little Pignose, which he used at sessions and festivals on occasion--sounded fantastic, but it sure didn't sound much like a mandolin to me.

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Well, it's really about the music, idnit? At least Tiny's thing was tuned in fifths, even if it still sounded like an electric guitar. What a gem he was.

    .
    ph

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    I see he's respelled his name now.

    Do you find the opening essay on his development (at age 6) of the mandolin to be convincing or enlightening?

    Quote Originally Posted by
    He has given a new dimension to the mandolin....Shrinivas rectified the inadequacy of the instrument to negotiate Carnatic ragas…The presence of pairs of strings made it difficult to render complex 'gamaka's (sustained notes) on the mandolin…The sustenance (the time period for which a note would be heard from the time the string is plucked) of the instrument, on the whole, was not sufficient enough (to some extent attributable to the presence of "pairs of strings") to admit slow-tempo compositions…The modifications have opened up the floodgates of expression to the mandolin which were hitherto thought impossible. The inevitable fallout of these modifications is that mandolin, in this new design, has lost its characteristic "plink-plunk" sound (attributable to the pairs of strings) and the playing style of continuous, fast up-down plucking as a means of sustaining notes. But then, in view of the stupendous vistas and the expressing potential opened up by the new design, one is more than pleased to overlook this.
    A child's or any other electric guitar is not a mandolin. But he did play one once:

    [img]ftp://w4a025:Mozzani@ftp.lutherie.net:21//pub_html/baby.srinivas.jpg[/img]

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    Quote Originally Posted by
    The mandolin is normally tuned to the notes corresponding to E, A, D, G & G (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th strings respectively).
    Incredible. I never knew that.

    Quote Originally Posted by
    Mandolin Shrinivas came up with some modifications which (i) eliminated completely the problem of 'gamaka' (sustained notes) rendition. (ii) to a great extent enhanced the sustenance of the instrument, and (iii) enhanced the acoustic range of the instrument.
    But couldn't quite admit the change was to another entirely different instrument. Because it's electric, it will indeed hold sustained notes. (Tuning it CGCGC helps too.) Which sure beats trying to tremolo through Indian music. Calling it a mandolin does not make it so. But at least he plays good music.
    .
    ph

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    At one point his website, compares him to Yehudi Menuhin, Beethoven, Sir Isaac Newton, Picasso and Madam Curie. At another point, it states he is "God's gift to music." Elsewhere, it says that when masters heard him play as a child, they did not know if they were hearing a prodigy or a god.

    I'll say this for him, he has the biggest ego of any musician I've ever heard of.

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Guys, this has been discussed before. I really don't think he wrote anything on "his" website. And if you've never been to an Indian concert and heard artists introduced... Let's just say Gibson doesn't have exclusive rights to hyperbole.. I'm going to guess this is a cultural thang.

    As far as what to call the instrument he plays, I'll go with whatever Dave Apollon calls it.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Hey everything here as been discussed before! If people can re-visit gushing about this guy, people can revisit criticizing him. My guess is he not only knows what is on his website, he approved it. I wouldn't be surprised if he visits it to read about himself every day. As far as a cultural thing, you won't see the same thing on Ravi Shankar's website or at one of his concerts. Also, I work with a lot of people from India. They are some of the most culturally sensitive and self-effacing folks I know. The video clip above, which I had not seen before, only reinforced my opinion of him. Even his own band seemed to be looking at him like, "When is this guy gonna stop?"

    But at least he hasn't called himself "The Chris Thile of India." Now that would be crossing the line! #




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    Guitarist Henry Kaiser turned me on to Srinivas in the early 1980's, along with some other great stuff such as Okinawa's Shoukichi Kina.

    What exactly defines "mandolin" anyway? #multiple string courses, tuning in 5ths, high register, bowl-back? #If Srinivas got to the (solid-body) instrument he calls a "mandolin" through a mutational process - going to single strings, then altering the tuning, then going to a solid-body it is a "mutated mandolin", even though someone else may have the same setup which they arrived at from a different evolutionary path... a "mutated guitar", or altered uke, or "chromatic solid-body electric strumstick-dulcimer".

    (Applying the same logic that says Srinivas is not playing a "mandolin", I guess that means that Sam Bush does not play "slide mandolin".)

    As far I'm concerned, the greatest blues mandola player ever was Albert Collins. Yeah, he (supposedly) played a "Telecaster", but he had it capoed up way to the 7th or 9th frets for a short scale length, and had it in a open minor tuning. #Eliminate a couple of the strings, and you'd be close to a single string version of a mandola in a slightly altered tuning.

    As far as the over-the-top Srinivas bio - is that really ego, or is it just a cultural thing to exagerate? Or is it just "show-biz"? You get similar superlatives in the press bios of various Latin American performers a lot. What about James Brown's stage introduction? #When I was publishing The Mandocrucian Digest, and writing for a bunch of other magazines, some of the press packets that came with review copy CDs of acoustic indie American performers were almost as overblown. And when those were on the performer's own label, it was a pretty good bet that the performer and the publicist were one in the same! (or the spouse did it). Hope they didn't actually start "believing their own publicity!"

    There's some pretty over-the-top self-promotion on the web sites of some western mando players. Demonstrates the overlap between the music biz and the WWF. But that stuff isn't put out there for other musicians; it's for the non-musician audience. It's the "carnies" vs. the "marks".

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    Srinivas is out there touring with really big dogs (John McLaughlin). Do you think he has either the time or the inclination to being a webmaster or writing his own press copy? Get real.
    NH

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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Dave Apollon and his Filipini Boyfriends?? He's another case of "who cares what he calls it, he sure can play."

    Hyperbole has to be taken into stride, especially in buggy little Hindustani websites. I know and work with a lot of Indian musicians and with only a few exceptions they are extraordinarily humble, no-nonsense folks, no matter what India Currents or any websites have to say about them. I've never met Srinivas (or, for that matter, Shrinivas) but he's probably a right good character. He does not play a mandolin, that's all.
    .
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    To paraphrase a remark supposedly attributed to Jack Nicklaus when asked about a young Tiger Woods:

    "He's playing a game that I'm not familiar with"


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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Paul Hostetter @ Oct. 13 2006, 16:55)
    Hyperbole has to be taken into stride, especially in buggy little Hindustani websites. I know and work with a lot of Indian musicians and with only a few exceptions they are extraordinarily humble, no-nonsense folks, no matter what India Currents or any websites have to say about them. I've never met Srinivas (or, for that matter, Shrinivas) but he's probably a right good character. He does not play a mandolin, that's all.
    Ah, but this is a Carnatic Web site ...

    I *have* met Shrinivas, and he appears to me to be every bit as self-effacing as any Indian musician Paul has worked with. He simply doesn't give a hoot about publicity one way or another, including that embarrassing Web site. When he's not touring he's teaching at his academy.

    My pal Maestro Alex Gregory is another electric mandolinist with some pretty purple Web copy -- back when he had a Web site -- but (a) he has the chops to back it up; (b) I don't find him the least bit arrogant in person. That sort of copy was what he thought he needed in order to succeed in carving out a niche for the mandolin in the world of heavy-metal guitar heroes.

    If his axe isn't a mandolin, I guess the six-course Venetian mandolin isn't either. That might come as a shock to 18th-century Italians.



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    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    I guess the nomenclature debate is a function of which instrument's purity you wish to preserve. If it ain't a mandolin, it's a mighty peculiar guitar. I guess the term "guitar" has become so broad in its meaning that it more easily encompasses all manner of quirky axes, hatchets, and implements of musical mayhem.



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    jbmando RIP HK Jim Broyles's Avatar
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    Whatever it is, I really am not crazy over the music coming out of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Paul Hostetter @ Oct. 13 2006, 16:55)
    He does not play a mandolin, that's all.
    How about this guy?

    (actually sounds more like a 'dola... pretty cool though)

    edit: another page with a bigger picture and a short review...



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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    OK, now THAT guy is Hindustani. And from other discussions it sounds like he plays a mandola, or at least tunes down to that pitch. He's one of the musicians in the "Indian band" that played the tribute concert for George Harrison. I can't remember from the last time I watched that if his instrument seemed mandola-sized.

    Re: "the other musicians are looking at him wondering when is this guy going to stop"

    I know this was supposed to be an insult, but I think there's an element of truth in this statement. From what I understand (and I'm SURE someone will correct me if I'm wrong) there's a part at the beginning of most ragas where the player is just playing free-form, rhythmless improv. The rest of the song is VERY strictly tied to particular rhythms, so much so that people in the audience will count the beats and know when particular segments end. We're not talking clapping to a 4/4 beat here.. To a non-Indian used to Western rhythms, I found this fascinating.

    Notice where he keeps looking to the other players (who nod - whilst in a state of rapture - "no")? I think he's asking whether he should start the piece (i.e. everybody join in vs him continue noodling). They're responding they want him to continue - they want more.

    Hey, you either like X music or you don't. What bugs me is people comparing it to Y music and then making value judgements. Heck, of course it's not the same.. it's different music.

    [edited to be more universal and thought-provoking ]

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Do you think he has either the time or the inclination to being a webmaster or writing his own press copy? Get real.
    Never insinuated that. What I did insinuate is that any artist, I don't care how busy they are, has visited thier own website and read it end to end, at least once. Wouldn't you? And having visited it, if they didn't like even a nuance of what was on there, they would have had words with the webmaster. I've written press copy and overseen websites before. Anyone who knows they are on a site, or there is site or an article about them, has read every word, whether they will admit or not.




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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Hey, you either like X music or you don't. What bugs me is people comparing it to Y music and then making value judgements. Heck, of course it's not the same.. it's different music.
    Well, I actually like Indian music, including Shankar and the Hindustani mandolinist on the post above. It's not a different kind of music thing. I just don't like the U man. Never have.

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