Keralite sets Limca Book record for smallest musical instrument - Jayaprakash

Striking a different note in the world of music, a Keralite has entered Limca Book of National Records for developing the smallest musical instrument, through which he could produce scores played on saxophone or the ‘nadaswaram’ (double reed wind instrument).

                                   Smallest musical instrument picture
The Limca certificate which G Jayaprakash, designer of the instrument, received last week, said "he has developed the smallest musical instrument called 'Sushiri'....and developed the art of playing it and has given public performances."With 4.5 cm length, 1.5 cm width and 1 mm thickness, “Sushiri” resembles the shape of a miniature mouth-organ.

Capable of playing all seven musical notes with it, the gadget produces music similar that of instruments like saxophone, clarinet, shehnai and nadaswaram, Jayaprakash told PTI.
“It is the outcome of my 15-years of rigorous research. Actually I did not mean to develop such a small instrument. My aim was just to mould a different one. But, in course of time,I realized that the clarity of music would increase with the decrease of size and weight,” he said.

Made of sandalwood, “Sushiri” has a number of holes on its surface. It is played by controlling the movement of air through the holes with peculiar movements of fingers and lips.

A thin piece of cloth is used as a cover and a button microphone will be attached to it while playing, Jayaprakash said.

“I usually play “Sushiri” by holding on the clip of microphone. But, the sound is crystal clear even without it. I use the cloth and microphone to protect it from getting damaged as the instrument is too small. The holes on the surface are also specially aligned to produce all types of sound varieities,” he said.

Though Jayaprakash, a Thiruvananthapuram-based pharmaceutical manufacturer, has no formal education in music, he performs hour-long concerts both carnatic and western with “Sushiri”. "I did a ‘Sushiri’ kacheri (concert) at the Surya cultural festival here in 2003.I conducted a concert as part of the Limca selection process also.Though I could play the instrument only half an hour initially, the duration has been extended to one to one-and-half hours eventually" Jayaprakash said.

“Sushiri” has a range of three-and-a half octaves and can be played along with other instruments in joint instrument concerts, but its distinct sound makes it different from others, he said.The 46-year-old old music buff said he drew inspiration for the innovation from the toy instrument made of hair comb and paper with which children used to produce musical notes.

Though he tried to carve the instrument in the shape of hair-comb with open gaps in between, it did not work out.

“When I made a comb-shaped instrument, I did not get much satisfaction. Sound was getting distracted and pitch was also not good. So I drilled holes on the board and that was the discovery of Sushiri,” he said.

Jayaprakash also had to sweat hard in the selection of wood for the instrument. Though he tried teak, rosewood and many other medium, sandalwood only gave the desired perfection and results. The rich powder content in it would make the sound coming out of it clear and audible, he said.

Even though his late night research and musical experiments had troubled his family members, Jayaprakash said their support had helped him to achieve the record.
After presenting “Sushiri” before public, he applied for Limca Records in 2004. But, he got the certificate only last week.

“Now, the instrument has set the national record and my next dream is the Guinness World Records," he said.

The current Guinness record for the smallest musical instrument is a guitar of the size of a blood cell,which can be viewed only through a microscope.“But, I do not think such a minute instrument can produce audible music. So I am planning to appeal to the Guinness authorities to have a re-look and declare Sushiri as the smallest musical device ever made by man,” Jayaprakash said.
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