East Ridge sophomores, sisters, featured on "MN Original"East Ridge sophomores, and sisters, Jeyani and Janani Narayan recently performed Carnatic music on TPT’s ‘MN Original’ program.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
East Ridge High School sophomore Jeyani and Janani Narayan have been involved in music through their entire lives in one way or another.
The twin sisters are experienced vocalists, Western classical violinists and violinists in the classical southern-India style called Carnatic.
“Music is very expressive,” Jeyani said. “It takes a lot of mind work and finger work, too.”
The sisters recently filmed a music spot where they performed Carnatic violin for the TPT television program “MN Original,” a weekly arts series celebrating Minnesota’s creative community.
The sisters’ spot premiered Oct. 29 on TPT and will re-air at 7 p.m. Jan. 2.
The Woodbury residents were featured with a local photographer in their segment.
“It’s a program where they feature different artists from Minnesota and what’s kind of special about them,” Janani said. “It’s important to know what it is that makes different cultures unique and the unique qualities and how that connects to their culture.”
Jeyani and Janani first started taking Carnatic violin lessons when they were about 8 years old, however they were introduced to the style much earlier than that.
“We actually got introduced to it at a really young age, even younger than Western,” Jeyani said. “It’s very much a part of our culture.”
Her sister agreed.
“This style of music is very unique to our culture,” Janani said.
Carnatic is a classical style of music from southern India, which uses a different grip from the traditional European classical genre.
The violin is held perpendicular to the chest with the scroll pointing down. Generally, violinists sit cross legged on the stage, with their right leg extended. The scroll is placed below the ankle of the right foot.
Additional components of Carnatic music include relative musical pitch, the musical sound of a single note, the mode or melodic formula, and the rhythmic cycles.
“It’s kind of complicated once you get into the technical side of the music,” Janani said.
Janani and Jeyani said they enjoy playing Carnatic violin because it is such a part of their culture.
“It’s also nice to play about your culture,” Janani said. “It tells about your culture.”
Jeyani and Janani take Carnatic violin lessons with an online instructor in India almost every day of the week.
“We play very often,” Jeyani said. “We’re playing almost every day.”
Jeyani and Janani were actually approached by “MN Original” about filming a segment for the series after they were featured on another TPT program on its cultural channel.
“We knew ‘MN Original’ was there, but we didn’t really put our names in for it,” Jeyani said.
Jeyani and Janani said they wanted to participate in “MN Original” because they always love the opportunity to share Carnatic music with people.
“We really liked the idea of representing Minnesota and the uniqueness of each person is always good,” Jeyani said.
“This style of music is very unique to our culture,” Janani said. “So, it’s great to be able to represent our culture too because it’s not a very big type of music – it’s not known very well here.”
The song the sisters performed was “Neerada Sama.”
“It was a beautiful key,” Jeyani said.
Jeyani and Janani said filming the segment for “MN Original” took about four hours since they filmed three different songs and each song took three different takes.
Jeyani and Janani also performed with their instructor during the segment.
“We performed with our teacher, so that was kind of reassuring,” Janani said.
Jeyani and Janani said they weren’t too nervous in filming the segment since they had performed on television programs in the past.
“We knew what the process was of performing,” Jeyani said.
The girls said they don’t know where music is going to take them in life, or if they want to do it professionally, but it is always going to be a part of their lives.
“It’s certainly going to be a hobby throughout my life,” Jeyani said. “It’s a really big part of my life right now – it’s kind of what our lives are centered around.
“It’s going to stay with us the rest of our lives.”