Taking the classical route: Journey of a self-taught musician in Hyderabad

City-based composer Vivek Venugopal on his hope to make his music cross borders and oceans 

author_img Shreya Veronica Published :  13th September 2022 06:07 PM   |   Published :   |  13th September 2022 06:07 PM
Image used for representational purposes only(Photo | Pexels)

Image used for representational purposes only(Photo | Pexels)

A passion that he grew up with and that which shaped him has Vivek Venugopal, a composer, producer and guitarist, striving his way to make his music reach every corner of the world. Working on contemporary western classical music, this city-based composer hopes to make his music cross borders and oceans. Collaborating with international artists and making his way out in this field, he is leaving no stone unturned to make his mark in the industry.  

The self-taught musician has several albums to his credit and will be releasing four projects a year, from now on. “I started as a solo guitarist and then slowly things started to move to jazz and other ethnic works of music., from across the globe. I have tried to incorporate all these influences into my music and three releases later, I moved towards contemporary classical music — I love it for its open-minded picture of music and where it comes from,” he tells CE. 

Vivek has no clear idea as to how his interest in music peaked. He explains, “It’s quite mysterious as no one in my family has ever had an inclination towards music. Somehow, I was drawn to music and soon, I was studying it.  Then, I started to make all kinds of acquaintances in the field and it started going deeper and today, it has become a sense of identity and my purpose of being.”

The musician had no formal training in music and at times, he even learnt something the wrong way but wasted no time in unlearning and relearning. “But teaching myself, though challenging, brought to me a unique understanding. My family has been very supportive of my passion and pushed me to reach greater heights,” he shares. 

As it is for most of us, Vivek’s favourites keep changing and he shares, “Initially, I had a list of several musicians who keep changing but at this point, anybody who is deep in their art form inspires me and my work. It could be any art form, not just music — I am influenced a lot by 20th-century art, and composers of western classical music. What I do is completely non-commercial and more artisan. Indian classical musicians influence me too — there is no divide by national line as I believe there should be no borders for culture, music and art.”

Having learnt and dabbled in various genres of music from jazz to ethnic traditions, he loves to classify his work as contemporary music. “The music I write and the instruments I use are not available in India but are common in other countries. That is a huge challenge I’m facing right now. I will soon be visiting Russia for four projects that include other instruments not found in India,” says he. 

Vivek hopes to largely work on international collaborations, where he gets to record a lot of pieces in one shot and release them.“I’m the kind who creates music in my mind, composes it with the instruments and then works with someone to make it come alive. There is a big demarcation between performing and writing it and I want to make that clear when I write music,” he signs off.