Chennai: Every day the world is taking a step towards ‘going natural’. From organic food to handwoven sarees, people are going back to the basics as they rediscover nature and now, music is no longer an exception to it. ‘Orisai’, an initiative of the No’Mad Projekt, focuses on preserving the original, raw form of Carnatic music by eliminating digital processing. It was launched on Sunday at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan with an enthralling performance by renowned musician T M Krishna.

“The concept of a carnatic concert production is seldom heard of. I wanted to give the listener a memorable experience of a performance by capturing the various elements of an ensemble in equal parts,” says mridangam artist Praveen Sparsh, founder, The No’Mad Projekt.

The No’Mad project aims to record music in its raw, organic form by eliminating processing. It also seeks to capture diverse creative mediums in their purest form.

The beauty of a song is often lost after it passes through countless processors. The high notes of the vocalist may drown the subtle tunes of the Chitraveena and the audience may skip out on a note or two of the ganjira. And the organic sound of the ensemble becomes history. But Orisai tries to bring back the natural touch to the musical experience.

These performances employ condenser microphones instead of the typical dynamic ones. They are placed at an angle, away from the source, such that they pick up the voice of the artist and sound of the instrument at the same time. Sound flows into a console only to be amplified and not processed.

“Orisai allowed me to hear true, real sound and respond to the music that is situated within that. In a normal miked concert, your voice escapes into the microphone and returns to you through monitors as an amplified and in a sense artificially designed sound,” says T M Krishna. “Therefore, you are not really hearing your voice from inside. In Orisai, the voice was as close to what I feel and hear naturally.”

With stage monitors out of the picture, dynamism is at its peak. Fast beats of the mridangam respond to the hollow sounds from the ghatam and the vocalist beautifully chips in to make it a melodious rendition.

“The performing artists are extremely sensitive to the dynamics in the ensemble. And they wonderfully communicate with each other on stage through their music,” says Praveen.

Elegant, simple aesthetics also form an integral part of this idea. The artistic makeover of the stage by art director Susha led to flashy flex banners being replaced with the Orisai logo cut out from plywood. And a dedicated light jockey ensured pleasant lighting.

In the long run, the initiative hopes to make musical communities rethink the nature of music. “Orisai will change the way the audience and organisers understand amplification. Today we have a situation where the microphones, speakers and monitors define music. Orisai inverts that, application is designed according to the nature of the musical form and its aesthetics. This is not audience or artist driven, it is music driven,” says T M Krishna.

[An edited version of this article was published in Times of India, Chennai.]

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