How to perform basic garden maintenance

Many dream of owning a large house with a garden attached to it but they may not realize just how much work goes into maintaining the garden and making it look perfect at all times. The frequency depends on its size and the variety of plants growing in it, but a house garden should be regularly maintained by a professional to assure that no plant diseases are present. The costs can quickly add up though so be prepared for that when choosing to buy a house with a spacious garden. Fortunately, almost anyone can learn how to do basic garden maintenance if they own the right tools for the job.

One of the more useful garden tools are branch scissors, also called shears. They are very easy to use too. Their main purpose is, as the name suggests, cutting branches but they can just as well be used to prune any kind of plant, small or large, that is growing in your garden. A sturdy pair of branch scissors should be able to cut through most materials, not only branches but also leather or rubber. A good pair of branch scissors should fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

How to prune plants

Pruning plants means cutting off any dead or overgrown parts, be it leaves, stems, or branches. Regular trimmings promote plant growth and prevent pests or diseases from attacking the vulnerable and weak parts of your plants. By pruning, you can also give the plant your desired shape. In general, pruning should be done during the most active growing season of the plant so be sure to find out what season is it for each of your plants. But be aware that even if the growing season has passed already it is still better to prune the plant now rather than waiting till next year. Over winter the plants are prone to becoming infected with diseases and if you leave it untreated for too long, the disease is eventually going to spread to the healthy parts of the plant. This can even kill the plant completely.

All you need to prune your plants effectively is a sharp pair of garden branch scissors. Always make sure to trim away all of the unnecessary tissue. A clean cut is essential to making sure that the plant will heal from the injury quickly and properly so sharpen your scissors before use.

Electric branch scissors

Nowadays it is even easier to trim your plants efficiently. Electric branch scissors act just like regular branch scissors but they are powered by electricity, either plugged in or powered by batteries.

Using a pair of electric branch scissors is a great way to perform basic maintenance in your garden if you don’t have a lot of time. They will get the job done a lot quicker than regular scissors. They are easier to work with so you will not feel much fatigue even after working for several hours. They are a very versatile tool and can be a great time-saver.

Reviews & Recognitions

Reviews & Recognitions

The Mandolin is essentially a staccato instrument, totally devoid of gamakka. That makes it almost alien to Carnatic needs. But that is all forgotten once you listen to Mandolin U. Shrinivas. What remains in the mind is music of the finest vintage.

The list of awards conferred on him is endless. And he is easily the most sought after artist. Between inhaling and exhaling, he gives a performance. It is also striking to note that he has none of the trappings of a star about him. Shy, silent, and reticent, he is rarely in the public eye, except on the podium.

Reviews & Recognitions

Asked about his genius, he attributes it to God’s grace. Behind this unassuming, humble boy lies the artist that comes once in an era. You may not be fond of Carnatic Music, but you can still not ignore Mandolin U. Shrinivas. You may look on him as a kind of Haley’s Comet; a phenomenon if not an artist. Such is the spell he has cast on audiences, that there is invariably the residual close-circuit audience outside each hall. And he has travelled abroad innumerable times.

He is already one of the all-time greats. And he attributes it all to fate. It just cannot be. Fate did not make a U. Shrinivas – fate just laid a child’s hand accidentally on a discarded Mandolin.

Shrinivas Institute of World Musique

Shrinivas Institute of World Musique

The dreams and aspirations of U.Shrinivas have paved the way for the setting up of a unique organization – “Shrinivas Institute of World Musique” (SIOWM). The formal inauguration of SIOWM will take place around mid 1999. The objectives of the organization are listed below.

  • To teach classical and modern music to deserving candidates from all sections of the society
  • To propagate classical, modern music and folklore on a global basis through live and recorded cassettes / compact disc.
  • To search for, spot and identify talent in the young for music in all its variations and nurture the talent by providing assistance to them to enable them to grow up in an atmosphere and environment best suited for promoting the talent,
  • To establish, promote, setup, run, maintain, assist, finance, support and / or aid to or help in the setting up and / or maintaining and / or running music schools and universities.Shrinivas Institute of World Musique
  • To give, provide and / or render help and assistance in cash or in kind to poor musicians and old artistes.
  • To foster and encourage education and training in music.
  • To meet the cost of education of students going abroad for higher studies in music.
  • To conduct music competitions and declare awards to the outstanding performances.
  • To help deserving students to take up research studies in music.

The Maestro

The Maestro

A Maestro means one who combines unique musicianship and immense virtuosity. Master U.Shrinivas has proved that he fulfils this to the hilt. A rather inconspicuous member of the western orchestra, Shrinivas has revived and raised the mandolin, an unknown instrument and given it a respectable status in classical music. His music acumen has assumed many dimensions. He glides over the gamut with ease traversing 4 octaves with subtle deflections and suave certainty. Every phrase, every design falls into place in the octaval build up of the raga. He can evolve and execute the most intricate fraction-ridden swara combinations that would keep any accompanist on edge.

The Maestro

Shrinivas has grown into a colossus with only sky as the limit. ” The magnificent music that emanates from the mandolin of young Shrinivas has the freshness and spontaneity of a mountain brook. The kalpanaswaras are like cascading waterfalls and the alaps a serene, majestic river flowing through the plains. His fingers caress and cajole original and remarkable proyogas of Carnatic music from this western instrument”

Nobody in recent times has achieved charisma in as quick a time as Shrinivas has done. He is a musical phenomenon to whom perfection of tone and execution come as spontaneously as the free and unfettered flow of his ideas.

Child Prodigy

Child Prodigy

Mandolin Shrinivas has often been compared to some of the world greatest prodigies.

“Some of you have heard or read about exceptionally gifted children, our own Mandolin Shrinivas, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Beethoven, Sir Isaac Newton, Picasso, Madam Curie, the list is endless” (courtesy THE HINDU, Sunday, May 3, 1992)

To Shrinivas the mandolin was his first love. He expended all his latent talent to conquer this little known alien instrument. Such was the proficiency he attained that his father soon realized that what he had on his hands was a “child prodigy” and no less ! Sparing no effort and time, he swept his son on his sail to recognition. The creative energy in Shrinivas swirled like a tidal wave around the Carnatic music world. The way critics gushed, it was hard to tell if they were talking about a child or a god! “He was hardly nine. Innocence was writ large on his face.

But the music that he produced on the little brittle mandolin was unbelievably Carnatic and classical to the core, throwing into the shade even the top instrumentalists. One had to rub one’s eyes and pinch oneself to make sure that a nine-year-old lad was performing musical miracles on the dais. He even operated on offbeat summations revealing virtuosity of a high order. That he could conceive in his mind the raga in all its grandeur and inherent niceties and transform them into musical extravaganzas had to be seen and heard to be believed ! It was clear that there was a divine force expressing itself through him in his tiny instrument”.

Shrinivas got his first big break in Gudivada in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, during the Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana festival. He was barely nine then.

The rest is musical history

Unique Tune

Unique Tune

Techniques of playing the mandolin

Tuning the mandolin

The mandolin is normally tuned to the notes corresponding to E, A, D, G & G (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th strings respectively).

The basics

Mandolin is a plucked instrument. The sound of the mandolin is basically produced because of the vibrating column formed between the bridge and the nut where string vibrations are created by plucking the strings with a plectrum or the fingers. Frequencies can be altered by pressing the strings on the fingerboard against appropriate frets. The act of pressing the strings on the fingerboard alters the length of the vibrating column and the placement of the frets is so calculated that the exact frequencies as required on the musical scale are obtained. The required musical notes are thus produced and played.

Given this technical background, let us see the basic techniques of playing the mandolin.

Unique Tune

One typically uses the index, middle, ring and little fingers of the left hand to alter the musical notes and the right hand to hold the plectrum for plucking the strings. The side of the sound rests on the player’s lap and the neck is held in position with the left hand.

The mandolin is not ordinarily used to play chords. For lead playing, different scales can be worked out and played. The characteristic style of playing is that whenever one wants to sustain any note, one plucks the string with the plectrum with rapid, up-down, strokes of the right hand.

Unique Tune

THE PHENOMENAL CONTRIBUTION of Mandolin Shrinivas to the techniques of mandolin playing in Carnatic Music:

The first thing that Mandolin Shrinivas did was to change the tuning of the mandolin to suit the requirements of Carnatic Music.

String No. Key / Scale to which tuned (Western Notation) Equivalent note in Carnatic Music Notation
1 C Sa (taara sthayi)
2 G Pa
3 C Sa
4 G Pa (mandra sthayi)
5 C Sa (mandra sthayi)

Changing the tuning from that of the standard mandolin’s not only enhanced the range of the instrument, but also enabled the player to avail of the advantage of having the resonance of the Sa and/or Pa on tap by default. This helps the player fill the void, the emptiness that could sometimes creep into a rendition.

With Sa-Pa-Sa tuning as the base, Mandolin Shrinivas devised very ingenious fingering techniques for playing intricate ‘gamaka’s and for enhancing the expressive potential of the mandolin.

The Acoustic Mandolin

The Acoustic Mandolin

Normally one finds two variations in the original form of the mandolin – the acoustic and the electric (solid block).

The mandolin in its original form is typically an acoustic stringed instrument about 60cm (2 ft) long with deeply vaulted ribs and a table slanted downward at the lower end. It has a neck-cum-peghead attached to a hollow oval shaped sound box. It has four pairs of loop-ended double rib fastened metal strings secured to hooks on the body on one end, and passed across a low bridge (on the sound box) and a nut (on the finger board) to the pegs inserted into a rectangular peg-box. A small flexible plectrum is used to vibrate the strings.

The Acoustic Mandolin

A feature of mandolin playing is the constant reiteration of all long pitches, which counteracts its weak sustaining power.

The thinnest string is called 1st string, the next string is the 2nd string which is slightly thicker, and so on until the fourth string.

The acoustic Mandolins are unsuitable for carnatic music. The electrically modified Mandolin is the one used by U. Shrinivas which is suitable for “gamakas” (sustained notes).

Five Strings To Heaven

Five Strings To Heaven

Heard melodies are sweet; but unheard melodies are sweeter. Who would have thought that the six year old Shrinivas, who was casually strumming the mandolin at a musical party would one day be the youngest performing artiste at the Festival of India at Paris ? He has given a new dimension to the mandolin….

Shrinivas rectified the inadequacy of the instrument to negotiate Carnatic ragas. He modified the traditional mandolin and bringing about alterations in the thickness of the strings. He has made it more adaptable, facilitating playing of “swaras” of even the lower octave on it.

“Yes, at first it was difficult to produce Carnatic Music on the instrument. I added an extra string, pitched at the base, ‘sa’ (shadjamam) and then no Carnatic raga was beyond its scope. The tonal range of the five strings arranged in the sequence of sa, pa, sa, pa, sa gave the necessary freedom to improvise. I can now play any Carnatic raga on my mandolin – even our Thodi which is the most demanding of them all”

Shrinivas has been able to bring out skillfully finest and clear notes, soft sounds and “gamakas” (sustained notes) which are alien to the instrument. The higher octaves are as easily spirated as he placidly plays the lower ones. Indeed it is rightly said that “an instrument must produce vocal music and not instrumental”. Shrinivas’ does.

Maestro U.Shrinivas’ – Mandolin

Mandolin Shrinivas, is perhaps the greatest thing to have happened to “mandolin”, for it was he who adapted the instrument to carnatic classical music, made some structural modifications and introduced ingenious playing techniques to take mandolin to its present enviable position in music. The Mandolin Samrat’s contribution to music and the instrument is invaluable, and he has elevated the mandolin to the status of a lead instrument and that too the complex Carnatic Classical Music.

It would be worthwhile dwelling in sufficient detail on U.Shrinivas’ design in order to fully comprehend the magnitude and enormity of his contribution.

Five Strings To Heaven

‘Gamakas (sustained notes), one would doubtless agree, are quintessential to carnatic music – so much so that, one cannot play carnatic music without using ‘gamakas’ (sustained notes). With the original design of the mandolin the musician venturing to play carnatic music on it, faced two major problems :

  • The presence of pairs of strings made it difficult to render complex ‘gamaka’s (sustained notes) on the mandolin.
  • The sustenance (the time period for which a note would be heard from the time the string is plucked) of the instrument, on the whole, was not sufficient enough (to some extent attributable to the presence of “pairs of strings”) to admit slow-tempo compositions.

Mandolin Shrinivas came up with some modifications which (i) eliminated completely the problem of ‘gamaka’ (sustained notes) rendition. (ii) to a great extent enhanced the sustenance of the instrument, and (iii) enhanced the acoustic range of the instrument.

Mandolin Shrinivas

The modifications have opened up the floodgates of expression to the mandolin which were hitherto thought impossible. The inevitable fallout of these modifications is that mandolin, in this new design, has lost its characteristic “plink-plunk” sound (attributable to the pairs of strings) and the playing style of continuous, fast up-down plucking as a means of sustaining notes. But then, in view of the stupendous vistas and the expressing potential opened up by the new design, one is more than pleased to overlook this.

Carnatic Music

Carnatic Music

Nature has endowed this universe with many beautiful life forms, of so many different shapes, sizes and abilities. Most animal forms have the ability to produce sounds and some of them even have the capability to communicate using varied sounds. Man is unique in that he can express his thoughts using sound. The ability to express his thoughts through sounds has evolved into an art which we call music. Music can thus be defined as an art form that arranges sounds in a fashion that follows certain natural principles and provides that special inner feeling of happiness and contentment. It is important to note that the basic principles are natural and thus the theory of music is only an attempt by man to rationally explain what is already beautiful. As a fringe benefit, this rationalization helps in understanding the inherent beauty of music and creates increasingly higher levels of appreciation in the listener.

The Mandolin

Indian music is closely interwined with religion. Legendary belief is that Indian music originated from the primordial sound, or ‘Shabdha Brahma’, OM. The Vedas of ancient Hindus are at least 4000 years old. And Indian music traces its origin to the Sama Veda. It is therefore the oldest system of music in the world, reaching back to 2000 years before Christ.

A Star Is Born

Shrinivas Institute of World Musique

“A power house of talent has descended on the orchard of Carnatic Music to make it resplendent in all its varied hues and nuances, weaving around it a magnetic field that not only sustains the audience interest but makes them crave for a little more of it. This sudden and brilliant outburst of musical wizardry is from the tender hands of Master Shrinivas who with a caress of the strings of the tiny instrument Mandolin sets the pace for a thoroughly enjoyable fare of Carnatic music that normally has come to be regarded as the preserve of a few savant grade senior musicians”.

Shrinivas was born in Palakol in West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh on February 28, 1969. As a very young boy Shrinivas was a normal child in school except that he seemed to have an ear for music. Then one day, when he was only six years old, his parents came home to find him playing on his father’s mandolin. Inspired by the boy’s interest in music, Satyanarayana taught his son what little music he knew, and Shrinivas began playing light music on the mandolin.


Child Prodigy

Subbaraju, a classically trained musician and a disciple of the famous musical stalwart Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, who had taught music to Shrinivas’ father sensed the young boy’s musical aptitude and decided to teach him classical music. He had no experience on the mandolin, so he would sing Carnatic music which Shrinivas would then play on the mandolin. In this way the young musician developed his own style.

Yes, indeed a star was born….