BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA: “While learning to make flutes, I figured it was not an easy process. I had to read a lot about sound waves, frequencies, vibrations, resonance etc., and study lot of books to understand how to tune a flute. I wrote several computer programs to help me with all the calculations. Using these, I started figuring out optimal dimensions for flute for a given pitch,” says Ram Mallappa who recently performed and bedazzled the audience at his flute arangetram on August 29th, 2015, at the Lassiter Concert Hall. The distinct feature of the arangetram was the flute itself, the instrument designed, developed and delivered by Mallappa using 3D designs and printers. These classical Indian 3D printed flutes were presented by his guru, Sri Raman Kalyan at the World Flute Seminar. Sri Raman Kalyan heads a music school inVirginianamed Indo-American Academy of Classical Music.
Mallappa’s concert began with the melodious Varna Valachi Vacchi rendered in Navaragamalika, Adi Tala, followed by Vinayaka, Hamsadhwani Raga, Adi Tala, Esha Pahimam in Kalyani Raga, Adi Tala, Darini Telusukonti in Shuddha Saveri Raga, Adi Tala, Jagadoddharana in Kapi Raga, Adi Tala, Thillana in Dhanashree Raga, Adi Tala, Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma in Madhyamavathi Raga, Adi Tala and concluded with Mangala – Ramachandraya in Kuranji Raga, Tishra Nade Eka Tala. Ram was accompanied by Sri. Krishnamoorthy Venkataramana on Mridangam and Sri. C.K. Vijayaraghavan on Violin. The concert was graced by Dr. Seshu Sharma as the guest of honor and emceed by Hema Nagendra and Mangala Udupa.
“When I started learning to play the flute in 2002, I had a hard time finding well-tuned bamboo flutes. Four years went by without a good flute. I started researching how to make bamboo flutes. Bamboo flutes are very hard to tune accurately due to inconsistencies in bamboo diameter (inner and outer), density, level of moisture, change in dimension due to temperature and humidity. It was hard to find the right kind and size of bamboo, so I started making flutes using PVC and aluminum pipes. That worked well for some pitches.” Says Mallappa about the need to find alternative to traditional bamboo flute. In 2013 his Guru recommended that Mallappa prepare for the Arangetram. This required Mallappa to have flutes of different pitch/sizes that he did not have and play for about 3 hours with professional accompaniments. When he made enquires about customized PVC pipes, the makers agreed but only if he bought a small truck load of it. That was not a viable option and 3D printers had caught Ram’s interest. But they were very expensive and he decided to build one. “I have experience working with tools and machines due to my time spent in workshop with my father who was an automobile mechanic. I have an engineering background with software development skills. I combined all this and started building the 3d printer” he says about what prompted the idea of 3D printed Flutes. Mallappa made a few alterations to his successful version of the mid-2014 3D printed Flute for his 2015 concert. With fine amalgamation of technology and music, Mallappa performed his Arangetram using his very own instrument in August 2015. According to his own knowledge, this is a first of its kind.
Mallappa’s interest in music, he says dates back to middle school days in Jog Falls Karnataka, where he attended concerts during Ganesha Festival. The flute in the ensemble always fascinated him. It was after the birth of his first daughter, however that his interest in music was renewed, with his wish for his daughter to learn classical music/dance. During a visit toBangaloreIndia, Mallappa met s Sri. D.L Somasekhar and started his classes with him. For about four years Mallappa continued his classes with his Guru with the help of recorded videos and conversations over the phone. With difficulty in matching time zones for classes, Mallappa started looking for a guru in theUSand met Sri. Raman Kalyan when he was visitingAtlantafor a concert. He has been training with Sri Kalyan since 2007.
If you are interested in learning more about the 3D printed flutes, you can contact Ram Mallappa at email@example.com