Rajhesh Vaidhya was born into a musical family in Tamil Nadu - his father KM Vaidyanathan played mridangam, and ghatam master TH 'Vikku' Vinayakram is a relative. But the young Rajesh followed his mother’s wish to play Saraswati veena rather than percussion, training first under Jayalakshmi and Rama Nambinarayanan before receiving advanced technical instruction from Chitti Babu, a legend of the instrument.
His penchant for technology soon found its way into his musical approach, as he took the controversial step to electrically amplify his veena, and restring it with a type of wire usually found in DIY toolkits rather than music shops.
The new sonorities opened up avenues in film composition - he has written for AR Rahman, K Balachander, and his brother-in-law S Ve Shekher. Alongside this he leads Maya, a fusion group, and worked with musicians including Elton John.
He stays rooted in classical tradition through continuing study with violinist L Shankar, and through teaching at Ravna, his own veena school. But he brings distinctly modern touches to all he does, recently getting a tattoo of a veena on his arm, and naming his energetic rendition of Raag Kafi as Kafi Espresso.
"Do you know the strings on my veena are actually electric wires? During a trip to Germany, I saw a wire lying on the floor in my hotel room. It turned out to be an electric wire. I strung it on to my instrument and loved the sound it produced. Ever since, the wires have replaced the regular strings of my veena."
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