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Prasanna is a South Indian Carnatic musician who plays the south Indian musical art form of Carnatic music on the electric guitar. He is the second musician to take the guitar to the carnatic classical stage after Sukumar Prasad. He not only plays carnatic music but is also a jazz musician. Some also categorize Prasanna's music under world fusion.
Prasanna began learning guitar when he was ten years old and studied with Dr C.G.Shanmugaraj Phd(Raj Echo Orchestra) and then Samuel Thangadurai. After learning quite a few things on his own, in 1984, he started formal instruction with Tiruvarur Balasubramaniam. In 1989, he gave his first professional Carnatic music concert at the Madras Music Academy. He studied with violinist A. Kanyakumari. Around this time, he performed several concerts in the sabhas in Chennai.
Today Prasanna is seen as a pioneer in performing Carnatic (south Indian classical) music on the guitar as well as an accomplished performer/composer in jazz and film music. He counts Ilaiyaraaja and Steely Dan among his biggest musical inspirations. As a composer, Prasanna also scored the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary Smile Pinki, as well as several scores for feature films and contemporary dance theater, and he orchestrated A.R. Rahman’s title score for the Oscar-nominated film Lagaan.
After studying engineering at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Prasanna earned an honors degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Prasanna was the founding President of Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, India's first professional college for contemporary music.He is part of "Tirtha" project with pianist Vijay Iyer.
Prasanna received a Bachelor's degree in Naval Architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1992. In 1999, He was awarded an Honours Bachelor's degree from the Berklee College of Music majoring in Classical Composition and Jazz Composition. Author of Ragamorphism a carnatic guitar instruction DVD released on 20 January 2004.
Awards and achievements
- Life Time Achievement Award, 2003 from Shankaracharya Shri. Jayendra Saraswathi swamigal of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
- The Berklee College of Music-Composition Achievement Award
- Prasanna is an acclaimed film composer having scored for feature films and the 2009 Oscar award winning documentary film Smile Pinki.
- Prasanna has worked regularly on multi-platinum Indian film soundtracks for such top composers as Illayaraja and Oscar winner A.R. Rahman. His orchestration and arranging credits include the title score of the Oscar nominated Bollywood film Lagaan.
Prasanna performed with several jazz artists and has also given several Carnatic concerts. Below are some of his albums:
- Shakthi The OmniPotent
- Guitar - Indian Style
- Spirit of Youth / Classical Music of India
- Guitar Meets Thavil / Vibrant Aesthetics
- Evergreen Classicals on Guitar
- Evergreen Melodies on Guitar
- Raa Rama
- Live in Sedona - from 2008 US Tour, Live concert DVD
- Vazhakku En 18/9
- Kopman, Budd. "Prasanna Biography". All About Jazz.
- Kopman, Budd (2007-11-30). "Tirtha at The Jazz Standard". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- R. Prasanna at the Internet Movie Database
- Vallikanth, C S (2006-11-03). "More extended analysis: Prasanna: Electric Ganesha Land". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
3. Vallikanth, C S (2005-01-08)"Extended Analysis: Prasanna: Be The Change " All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-11-01
- Guitarist Prasanna's Website
- India's first ever college for contemporary music founded by Prasanna
- Praise for Prasanna's work with Tirtha
- Guitarist Prasanna's history of the Carnatic guitar