- 28 May 2015
- Maria John
Text: Maria John Photos: Whistle Symphony
Whistle Symphony is a music band with a difference. At leastfor one, they are not worried about lyrics or the language of the song theysing. Formed by Prasad Nelliampathy from Thrissur, including two professionalwhistlers from Kochi, the band conducts performances through whistling.Accompanied by instruments, the four-member team has found fame with this raretalent.The art form, they say, is very hard to explain to peopleand the best way to understand is to watch a performance. Well, we have always known that whistling isa talent but would have never thought to take it to a professional level. There is even an Indian Whistling Associationfor the same. According to PrasadNelliampathy, whistling was a method that music directors reverted to beforethe lyrics were written. It could form the music better than humming. Well, thatmight explain the fact that a language from the Canary Islands incorporateswhistling.
Prasad Nelliampathy recounts that his family was not awareof his skill till he became a professional. In school he was the kid who wouldbe whistling for the ‘katcheri’ on the backbench. There is no particulartraining to whistle other than practice and a musical inclination according tohim. Though many people can whistle, it is very few that can whistle asong. A lot of people are fascinated byhis talent, but he ascertains that it is an art to be appreciated. Prasad is a working professional who findstime for his passion. He decided to swim against the tide and put together aband which has been touring as far as other states.
Kochiites, Aswathy from Maradu and Bijoy from Vypeen lovedwhistling as kids, but like everyone else their parents dissuaded them. It wasbad luck to whistle; it is not for proper girls and boys. They carried onwhistling in their private time. It was Aswathy’s husband who recognized hertalent and for Bijoy it was his college friends. Bijoy was a singer who,according to him had a problem with lyrics. He would end up whistling what hedidn’t understand or remember, and his friends enjoyed his performances. Bijoyis a station master at Vallarpadam and says that rather than spending time onFacebook, Whatsapp and other things youngsters are inclined to like, he wouldrather whistle away.
Aswathy has a different story. She used to believe that youhad to be a good singer to be able to whistle well. She was proven wrong andhas not looked back since. Aswathy has been whistling for over thirty yearsnow, and it is only now that her talent has come to the forefront. Herrelatives and friends were shocked when she announced her plans because theyknew her as the silent type. Once an audience member came up to her and toldher it was the first time they were seeing a woman whistle at a man. Shebelieves that anyone with interest and practice can whistle.With the backing of friends, family, and co-workers, theband has been performing at various events. People have been approaching themto teach. For the band, this is all about doing what you love, to discovertheir potential and take it to the next level. Their story inspires us that artis everywhere.