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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

A musical interlude in Mysore

I perform a couple of songs and you can ask questions, try out the instruments and hum a few notes if you wish….

By S A Vinayaka
Carnatic classical vocalist

You don’t necessarily need any musical expertise for this excursion – just an interest and curiosity really. The session usually takes place in my home where we break the ice with a cup of tea, some biscuits and Mysore pak, Indian sweet cookies that the area is famous for.

I then introduce my instruments – a violin and mridangam (double sided drum) used for the Carnatic style of classical Indian music. I’ll explain the history and how it’s comprised from elements such as swaras, the important single musical notes and the main soul of the composition. The songs are associated with Hindu mythology and thanking the gods. I love all of them but there’s one about Lord Shiva that’s particularly close to my heart because I had the amazing opportunity of performing it in front of the ex-president of India.

There’s a lot of improvising involved. In fact, the songs I sing are completely different to the versions my teacher taught me. They’re not written down anywhere and every time I sing them, they’ll always be different. I demonstrate all of this when I perform a couple of songs and in the interim, you can ask questions, try out the instruments and hum a few notes if you wish.

Once I had this youngster who played in an orchestra and brought his own violin. I just sang the Carnatic notes and he mimicked them. The next thing we knew we were jamming! On another occasion, this lady broke down in tears because I was singing something tragic that touched her. She didn’t know what the lyrics meant but she felt the raw emotion through the tone. It was beautiful to see how music can permeate the barriers of language.

For something completely different, we can even conduct a session in a nearby temple where the hall is perfectly equipped for sound – you don’t need microphones or anything. You’re surrounded by worshippers which helps create a special atmosphere. It’s particularly lovely when the sun is about to set.


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Alfred & S A Vinayaka

Born and bred in Mysore, S A Vinayaka practised music since the age of five and has represented India in Italy’s International Film Festival and even performed for the Ex-President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Outside of music he holds a degree in geography, a master’s in history and is currently pursuing Law. His passion and that of the participants has driven the music retreat’s success since its inception in 2010.
S A Vinayaka, Mysore vocalist

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