By R Prashanth Vidyasagar

Musician who’s among the many few to play novel instrument tells us about his enchanting journey

It’s fairly uncommon to come back throughout somebody with a fascinating life story that revolves round music. Making it even rarer is the truth that the individual performs a novel instrument and has finished so professionally for over 17 years. We spoke to the accordion legend MB Prakash (73), one of many few within the metropolis and nation about his superb journey, being self-taught, and his tryst with the accordion.

Excerpts from the interview.



The fantastic thing about Basavanagudi

I lived in Ranga Rao Street, Shankarapura at Basavanagudi that had 4 accordionists simply within the first part of that street. Listening to them play as I returned from college was a typical incidence. Extra so throughout my summer time holidays, after we would return residence late after taking part in. Late in these days means 7 pm not like at this time. Bangalore was quiet and the climate nice, so home windows have been often stored open. Whereas strolling again residence, I may hear folks play and a few even performed close to their home windows. The music and the instrument left an excellent impression on me and this could possibly be thought of the start line of all of it.

A Rs-3,000 accordion when petrol value 70 paise!

I began taking part in harmonica and as a result of my migraine, I used to be requested to offer it up so my father requested me if I used to be interested by taking part in the rest, that’s once I picked accordion. My father wasn’t proud of the worth and make of accordions right here.

That’s once I learnt that my father’s cousin was coming from England. I used the most cost effective technique of communication known as Aerogram (would take 9 days for a mail to be despatched) again then and wrote to the one German firm I knew of who have been making accordions, they in flip handed this over to their counterpart in England. After asking me for some particulars they steered an accordion that was appropriate for a newbie like me. So, my uncle obtained it to India. That is how I got here to personal my first accordion once I was about 16. My dad and mom by no means instructed me how a lot it value; I’m guessing it may have been round Rs 3,000 all inclusive. Simply to place issues into perspective, petrol was about 70 paise a litre then.

Rs 10 per programme

I couldn’t discover a instructor to show me the accordion. My father obtained me a piano tutor, by way of whom I learnt the fundamentals of musical notations (from a ebook as nicely), primarily based on that I learnt to learn music and play. I represented my school later in fests and emerged as a protect winner. Again then there was one thing known as the youth programme on All India Radio (AIR), I needed to play for them. I requested an audition asking them to let me provided that they deemed me match to play of their programme.

A month later I obtained a letter from AIR on behalf of the President of India asking me to play. I performed about 10 programmes and for every, I used to be paid Rs 10 on an RBI cheque.

The primary present

Publish that I needed to take up a occupation due to which I couldn’t play for about eight years. Someplace round this time curiosity shifted to piano however a lot of my mates put their youngsters in my tutelage to be taught piano. Instructing took away all my time and I needed to dismantle the piano. However issues obtained me again to accordion. I obtained a request from Bangalore Faculty of Music to play for French Bastille day at Alliance, so I requested a buddy of mine to affix me and that was my first association. That was my first publicity and expertise. After which I made a decision that yearly I’ve to play to maintain this going at any type of occasion. One such programme really led to the formation of the accordion band Tremolos (Bangalore) with Benne Ravi and Rajeev Das Mohopatra, the one accordion trio in India. Our widespread curiosity was European folks dances, we didn’t enterprise to play Hindi music and so forth. I needed to play the music that was meant for the instrument relatively than play what I needed to.

Devices over time begin giving bother too; the usual accordion I carry makes use of 450 reeds and weighs 11 kilos. I don’t get some materials and a few of it is vitally costly. I had nobody to assist me out both

–MB Prakash, musician

Hit by actuality

Dev used to play on the erstwhile resort Ashoka in a band, they wouldn’t at all times be employed and would run in need of funds and so forth. Being a buddy, I supported him however issues began falling aside from him, he lastly discovered a gig in Mangalore. He requested for bus cost to go there on a Saturday morning and left. However the bus he was travelling was concerned in a tragic accident the place about 40 folks handed away. This incident affected me quite a bit.

The leap of religion

My youngsters have been nonetheless learning, unsure earnings and all that was occurring in my thoughts. I used to be a Tribologist and would make slicing oils.

That’s when the possibility to play on the Sunday Brunch in Windsor got here up. I took a leap of religion and took it up. The brunch grew to become common and Saturday brunch was launched. For all of the foreigners there this grew to become a nostalgic sound. The gig was a profitable one they usually requested me to play for one more day. The VP of the then Taj Regency (now Vivanta) heard me and needed to play there, so I ended up taking part in repeatedly. However the gig at Taj stopped later owing to the dwindling crowd, courtesy recession. In 2017 there was an accordion competitors in France. They needed me to symbolize India and be a part of the Jury for the worldwide bench. For the primary time ever within the historical past of the competition Indians took half.

From an period when strolling residence included passing by at the very least 4 accordionists in a lane in Basavanagudi, to a time when the instrument is performed simply by a couple of within the metropolis and even the nation

—Prakash has seen all of it

What instrument is that?

I needed to be self-sufficient in sustaining the accordion and high-quality tuning it. Devices over time begin giving bother too; the usual accordion I carry makes use of 450 reeds and weighs 11 kilos. I don’t get some materials and a few of it is vitally costly. I had nobody to assist me out both. So, I needed to make my very own substitutions. Legendary artist José Feliciano, who I had an opportunity to play for, recognised this. He even sang as I performed, once I later went to thank him, he reached out to me (he was visually challenged) and requested me what instrument do you play? I instructed him it was the accordion and he mentioned it was simply great.

The pandemic pause

I stored myself busy by restoring my accordions and practising my craft. Many artists confronted difficult occasions throughout this era. Artists don’t have any authorities assist, PF or different advantages. The day you play, you earn. I used to be fortunate sufficient as I had assist from my household and my youngsters are grown up now. I lately performed on the Windsor as a part of their fortieth yr celebrations and hope to get again to taking part in repeatedly quickly.

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