Recipient of Vishnu Prabhakar Puruskar for her work in music and poetry Singer songwriter and composer, Chinmayi Tripathi who was born and brought up in Sagar Madhya Pradesh has come a long way. Here’s a peep into the journey of this aspiring musician who took up the challenge to bring back the poetry of the legendary poets of a the ‘Chhayavad Era’ which symbolises impressionism, jazzing it up with contemporary music in her initiative the ‘Music & Poetry Project’, as she speaks to loudest.in.
Chinmayi gives glimpses of her early childhood influences, ” Both my parents were professors of literature, as my father Dr. Radha Vallabh Tripathi who is an eminent professor of Sanskrit literature, who has also written many plays and some of his pioneer works has been on Natya Sastra. While my mother used to teach Hindi literature. I read poetry and literature as a kid and grew up listening to Hindustani Classical music as my parents loved it. We always saw authors, literates, musicians, and artists visiting our house, so the environment was very enriching full of music, art, literature, and knowledge which were the foremost influences on me. As I grew up my parents motivated me to learn from the legendary guru Dr. Alaknanda Palnitkar, who was the Head of the Music Department in Sagar University, and I trained under her for many years.”
When did the musical journey began,”Eventually I started writing poetry and composing my own songs which came naturally to me. The kind of music that moved me was independent music and whenever I wanted to do music it was my own music and not film music, and so I never wanted to be a playback singer. Although it did not come easy and straight to me as I also studied MBA and was in double mind at some point in time, as to what do I take up professionally? Over the years I realized that I wanted to do something in the media and the music space. So I took up marketing in Network18 time and then joined an independent music platform Songdew.com as I came on board as one of the co-founders, which is the actually the brainchild of Sunil Khanna.”
“It was the time when my independent music journey has also begun simultaneously, so I joined Songdew.com as it gave me a full-time opportunity to pursue my interest in music and also I could contribute as a marketing professional to the music industry. Songdew.com started as a platform on which people could publish their music content for streaming. Eventually what became its core strength was the music opportunities it provided to the artists, so it helped the artists connect with promotional opportunities across platforms for releases, tie-ups with venues for live gigs along with distribution of music, revenue-building opportunities for live performances or distributing content, music licensing for brands, etc. The best thing was that Songdew.com generated a large number of artists launched music through Songdew.com and also generated revenue through the platform. Although, I’m not with Songdew.com now, which is doing great as it is in its fourth year now, as my focus is more on creating independent music.”
Chinmayi has released 2 music albums with Times Music and Worldwide records. As an artist, she is known for her original songs that have meaningful lyrics and rich original compositions.
On taking inspiration from Chhayavad poets, the composer said,” Since poetry was very close to my heart, I started working on the ‘Music & Poetry Project’. I started working on an album around a year and a half ago, which is based on the poetry of the legendary writers of the ‘Chhayavad era’ like Maha Devi Verma, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Nirala and likes. What I found astonishing about their works is that their poetry is very lyrical, as you can almost sing them in a tune and that’s what inspired me to compose them. Looking at the kind of lyrics we have today which is deteriorating in standards, I thought why not take this rich literature of India, which is very contemporary, timeless and relevant in today’s age, and create a complete album of 6-7 songs, and that’s how it all began.”
“I shared the idea with Wishberry which is a crowdfunding website. They liked the concept seeing the social relevance and the impact, which the album showcases, of it not just being a music album. It contributes to literature too, thereby preserving it and taking it to the next generation in the form of contemporary music. Since I did not have enough funds to produce an album, I did this campaign on the website to raise funds and succeeded in raising the required money in around 45 days. Now, the album is ready and we will be releasing singles soon once we tie-up with the desired platform, where I can reach out to people who are connected to literature and poetry in some way. I am trying to see how to bridge that gap and reach a wider network of people, who are relevant to my music,” Tripathi added.
Tripathi tells about her journey so far, “Initially, I started alone by selecting poetry and composing the music. Then I met Joell Mukherjii who’s both my creative partner and life partner who has produced the album. Then we decided to set up an acoustic band which has Jerson Anthony as the bassist and Omkar Salukhe on percussion. Over the last 1 year, the music we have performed at some of the music festivals and college festivals in India and UK – with the objective of popularizing great poetry and literature among the youngsters – has received a great response. Music and Poetry Project has performed at venues like – The Nehru Centre, Richmix, Oxford University and Asia House, India Habitat Centre, NDMC-Central Park, Spoken Fest, Sahitya Aajtak ICCR – Mumbai, Worli Festival among others.The journey has been great, since the audience were the ones who loved poetry, and so it was well appreciated. ”
Throwing light on the process of composing, Tripathi says, “So there are thousands of compositions in the Chayawad era, and I was attracted to it because of its lyrical richness and the revolutionary themes that that era bestowed. It changed the way how poetry and literature were seen after that. I was interested in doing diverse themes ranging from women issues to romanticism to patriotism, with so many great poets at the same time. There is this poetry of Maha Devi Verma ‘Jag Thujhko Door Jana’ which is very inspiring. It was so beautiful that I instantly decided to compose it when I first read it. There is a poem of Nirala, ‘Baandho Na Nav Iss Thaav Bandhu’, which I have composed based on a folk tune. While a song ‘Tu Kaun Baata Tera Naam Hai Kya’ from the book Rashmirathi, which is a collection of the works of the poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, has excerpts that I have composed in Raga Jog. I have just composed some excerpts from it in my way. I also attempted to do Harivansh Rai Bachhan’s piece ‘Donga dole’ from the poem ‘Pagla Mallah’. Initially, I was petrified because you cannot spoil an existing piece of a poem that is so beautiful, and that has been written by such legendary poets. It took me some time to get over this thought and start composing by following my own instinct.”
Talking about propagating poetry through sound in schools and colleges, “I have done small gigs in schools and colleges in Delhi and I feel that today’s youngsters want to hear something new and appreciate to listen to something which is connected to their roots but presented in a contemporary way. It all needs to be packaged correctly, so that it is appealing to everyone irrespective of the age, be it the school students or college goers. Hence, there is a lot of scope for experimentation”.
Tripathi concluded with her future plans saying, “Well I’m reading a lot of literature and maybe I take up next a ‘Mukta Chand’, freestyle poetry which is not in rhyme or might as well would love to explore the new age poetry.”