tulu: Praveen Alva’s new Tulu songs are steeped in culture, but wrapped in rock and pop

Bengaluru-based architect Praveen Alva started writing songs in Tulu just four years ago. A chance encounter with musician Raghu Dixit prompted the singer to push himself further.

“When I met Raghu Dixit, I had already written 12 songs. He told me ‘Don’t be someone who can write just a few songs’ and challenged me to write 40. I took that and wrote 35 songs,” laughs the self-taught musician , who released her debut single, Prarthaney, last year.

His latest series, Emotions and Mother Tongue, shown at RS Connect this Sunday, will see him do an hour-long series of 10 Tulu songs.

He tells us, “For me, it started as a very simple act – just to see if I could access things while writing in Tulu. Mangalore is culturally very strong and I am an urban child, but my grandmother’s house is in a village. So, I was exposed to a lot of cultural things like Bootha Kola and Yakshagana, among others. I was fascinated by it all. And by writing to Tulu, I could access all those memories. And once I started playing, it became a responsibility to represent Tulu.

Performed to contemporary tunes, Praveen’s songs speak to various moods and subjects, from longing for her grandmother, her village and their party, to the ghost, power and manipulation of a child. Before performing each song, he gives his listeners some context on what the song is about so language doesn’t become a barrier.

He further adds: “I realized that it is something very unique that I have in me. There are many things in Tulu that cannot be translated into English, but thanks to my education, I can serve as a bridge. I can write in Tulu and also express it in English to ensure global access. Then it became a responsibility to read the story and educate myself about Tulu. I met with academics and researchers and studied the new script that is being used. Personally, it has been a rewarding experience.

Praveen draws on his pop and rock musical influences to make his songs less “folkish” and traditional. He shares, “Many artists these days write and perform in their native language. It started with the rap scene, but it’s more popular now. But many independent artists, under pressure, are gradually moving to perform in Hindi or English. I hope if I keep doing what I do, someone will be inspired to write more in Tulu or their native language. ”

May 8, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Ranga Shankara

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