Music learning app Riyaz plays the role of a tutor with cutting-edge technology


Gopala Krishna Koduri explains how a ‘virtual guru’ now provides lessons and feedback in Carnatic and Hindustani music for enthusiasts

Gopala Krishna Koduri explains how a ‘virtual guru’ now provides lessons and feedback in Carnatic and Hindustani music for enthusiasts

Mumbai-based Niranjan Mohnot can take his music classes anywhere: at home, when he travels or even during a work break. During this session on the phone, his ‘virtual guru’ identifies mistakes and gives feedback. A similar scene plays out at homoeopath Swati Vijay Mehta’s house in Anand, Gujarat. She practices Shivranjani, Kalavati, Kalyan or Bageshree raag depending on her mood and the online assessment helps her improve. For scores of music enthusiasts like them, the music learning app Riyaz is their ‘virtual guru’. While apps and DIY videos teaching online music are common, Riyaz has learning modules and gives real-time feedback during the session.

How it started

Gopala Krishna Koduri
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Founded by Gopala Krishna Koduri in 2019, Riyaz (meaning practice) follows a different practice to learn singing. Hailing from West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh, Gopala Krishna had no access to people who teach music, dance or any other art form while growing up. While studying computer science at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Hyderabad, he was exposed to arts and literature and realised the need for a learning avenue where one could pursue their passion.

He took a music appreciation course under teacher and researcher Violin Vasu, which spurred his interest to use technology as a tool in learning music. “He (Vasu) was pro-technology and it was fascinating to look at how ragas can be conceptualised using technology,” recalls the founder and CEO of Riyaz.

The path to perceiving Carnatic music through the lens of technology began. “It was engaging to use technology to comprehend something that usually takes 10 years for a human to understand,” he points out. A seminar by Prof Xavier Serra (now also the co-founder of Riyaz) in IIT Bombay opened new vistas in music technology which led to his PhD from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. The intent was to use tech as a key enabler for many like him “who can’t make time to pursue music full-time”.

Gopala Krishna returned to India after a six-year stint of researching and developing a technology stack (around 70 people have worked on this project) that can understand and analyse melodies. The technology grades students against coloured bars and visually shows how they sing.

He explains, “Budding singers taking their first lesson struggle to understand and place what the sur ‘sa’ is in their mind. The teacher instructs to listen to the tanpura and sing but the students have lots of discordance with it and eventually drop out due to frustration. When things appear visual with the help of technology, they can identify the line they are singing and easily sing it low or high to meet the target line.”

Riyaz’s beta version in 2017 took the initial feedback from students to fill the gaps and also understand the role of music in people’s lives. “Music as a hobby is dominated by the 18 to 35 age group segment. They are passionate, self-driven and want to genuinely have music as part of their lives.”

He admits there are some limitations to the understanding melody. “Our Eastern music is rich in melody and theirs (Western) in harmony. So chords are about harmonies and our melodies are songs,” he adds.

Gopala Krishna adds, “Enthusiasts could be music literates and can enjoy what they’re doing and don’t feel like they’re being judged, evaluated and stifled at every moment.”

With structured learning modules, Riyaz has produced more than 50 Hindustani classical music courses covering the popularly taught ragas and Carnatic music . The platform is now working on the technology for the popular music segment.; users can bring their own songs they want to learn besides the courses offered. Songs uploaded by users are converted into learning segments.

Riyaz app is available for Android and iOS phones

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *