Published: 16th July 2019
Here's how the 24-year-old 'Flute Guy' is taking the online music scene by storm
An expert at playing the flute, mridangam and performing Carnatic vocals, Praveen Prathapan will make you sway to his tunes
Most of us are familiar with the default iPhone ringtone. What if I tell you that it can be recreated in Konnakol? (Konnakol is the art of performing percussion syllables vocally in South Indian Carnatic music) I am sure you wouldn’t believe it, but yes it is true! Meet 24-year-old ‘The Flute Guy’ Praveen Prathapan who creates magic with his flute. Excerpts from an interview:
How long have you been playing the flute?
My dad is a flautist. He began teaching me when I was just five years old, after noticing that I was drawn to music. Later, in 2000, I started taking professional lessons from Dr N Ramani sir from Chennai. Besides the flute, I am also a trained vocalist and mridangam artiste. I also perform ‘Konnakol’.
Can you tell us about your evolution from a Science graduate to The Flute Guy?
I am a Tamil paiyyan who was born in Sydney and raised in London. At the age of 16, I wanted to drop out of school and pursue music full-time. But my parents just responded with two words — ‘no chance’. So I continued with studies and I focused on my career for the next few years — I did my Bachelor’s in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. Later I worked at Harvard University and at NASA too! But the pull of music was too strong to allow me to continue in that field. I told my parents how seriously I wanted to be a musician and this time, they were supportive. In the beginning, I focused on classical music only. But later I came to know about different genres when I got introduced to various musicians. I have shared the stage with big names like Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. I have also had the privilege of performing in countries like the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan. Thereafter I adopted the stage name, The Flute Guy.
Are there any artistes in your family?
My mother is a Bharatanatyam dancer. It was because of her that I started understanding rhythms from childhood.
What motivated you to come up with such interesting flute renditions?
I wanted to do something different –— I did not want to play the same Bollywood or Tamil tunes, though I do love them very much. I force myself to explore all possibilities in Carnatic music. I wanted to give people something exciting and the response has been great so far (especially in the case of the iPhone video).
How has the online medium helped your audience reach?
The internet has truly revolutionised everything you know about music. The audiences are varied and wider online. I am fortunate to have 7,000 followers on YouTube. I love connecting with them, I love that adrenaline rush.
What are your future plans?
I want to try my hand at western classical music.
Are you planning to perform anytime soon in India or have you performed here before?
This is a frequently asked question. I have performed in Chennai, Kerala, Madurai, Delhi and Jaipur, and look forward to doing more performances in the future.
What is music to you?
Music is my passion. I am glad I could make a profession out of my passion. I love not being in the office. I love the uncertainty in music - not worrying about what the next day is going to be about.
What do you think is the most important quality for a musician?
Patience. Nothing happens in a day. I have been honing my skills and practicing for 6 hours a day, for the past 19 years. Behind every 9 second video of mine is 19 years of hard work.
Given that your interest also lies in cancer research, do you think that there is a link between cancer cure and music?
Music is all about vibrations. Resonance plays an important role in biochemistry. So yes, I do believe there is a link.