Musician Naveen Kumar’s passion for the flute led him not only to create lilting melodies on it, but even invent a new instrument altogether: a flute with strings. “A while ago, I was in a studio in Chennai, doing
(practice) when I heard a sustained sound while playing. To my surprise, I discovered that strings of the guitar that my friend was holding, started vibrating with the sound of my flute. I went closer to the guitar, noticed the phenomenon and realised that it could help me in creating a new flute tone,” recalls Kumar, adding, “So, I spent a lot of time researching, experimenting and incorporating the new feature. There were many technicalities involved, but finally, I was able to conceive it.”
Kumar christened his invention Naveen Flute. He applied the same technique to the Western classical flute, and has even devised a glass flute and an overtone flute (which lacks holes). The master of flute inventions carried on with his experiments and also went on to incorporate a reedy tone, à la Chinese flutes, to traditional Indian pipes. His customised flutes will be soon available on his online flute store. “The idea behind experiments is to search for a new tone that can enhance the basic sound of the original flutes,” says Kumar, who is the chief flautist in AR Rahman’s team, besides working with other composers in the industry.
Kumar is also out with his fourth album, titled Melodies of Love, released by Sony Music. The compilation features 21 contemporary instrumental Bollywood tunes such as Sajda… (My Name is Khan, 2010), Ajab si… (Om Shanti Om, 2007), Main jahan rahoon… (Namaste London, 2007) among others. “These days, we find beautiful melodies being created, thanks to the popularity of Bollywood music, but they also disappear just as quickly. So, I wanted to focus on tunes of the present times. I have improvised on these songs, while attempting to retain the original elements,” says Kumar. His next project includes a fusion album with his band Maya, even as he looks forward to performing with his other band, Café Fluid.
With digital music production being all the rage, ask him how much has changed over the years and he replies, “Earlier, all the musicians would sit together and record for a track. These days, with newer technologies available, I am able to record my flute parts in a studio in Mumbai and send that to Chennai. But at the same time, we all know that acoustic sounds, especially Indian ones, have their own charm and will never die,” he says with a smile.