Carnatic music world should be accessible to everyone: TM Krishna

Carnatic music world should be accessible to everyone: TM Krishna

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 2016-02-16 09:14 Author of A Southern Music: The Karnatic story, TM Krishna, 38, a Carnatic classical musician hailing from a Brahmin family, argues strongly in favour of allowing people from every caste to learn Carnatic music. He hopes that sooner rather than later the Carnatic music society breaks down the walls erected around it and allows free entry to anyone who wishes to learn the musical art form.At present, there are elements that prevent people from other castes from even attending Carnatic music concerts, says Krishna. Carnatic music, that Krishna to prefers to spell with a K (C is so colonial and K so cool, he says), is fortunate that it is having the best time globally -- with musicians on concert tours across the world, global audience support. The future is very bright for Carnatic classical music as it continues to gain acceptance from a growing lobal audience, the author says. His message for fellow music practitioners is to open themselves up and allow people from all castes and creeds entry into the music world that has been shut to sections of the society for several generations.Which is why he organises concerts at Urur Olcott Kuppam, a fishermen’s colony on Besant Nagar beach. This weekend was another of those where he performed along with renowed musicians.“The idea is to take Carnatic music away from the sabhas and a particular type of rasika to a new kind of audience. It is our duty to broad base Carnatic music, whether it finds acceptance is another issue,” he said in a brief interaction with the audience.Krishna spoke to BFirst.in about his music, his book and his attempts to broad base the Carnatic music.BFirst.in: You have dealt with music, sociology, social issues, economy and a host of subjects in your book on Karnatic music, with a preference for K instead of C for spelling this form of classical music unique to South India. How would you yourself describe the book?Krishna: I have looked at the world that we live in through the prism of music and feel that the book would appeal to many sections of the society – people interested in sociology, history of society here, pure music or music technology and techniques in short a wide range of subjects and issues can find the book interesting and appealing. Essentially, I have tried to answer and even pose a whole lot of questions that sometimes disturb me as a human being. Social inequalities, for instance. I have observed in the practitioners of Carnatic classical music in the manner in which this form of music has predominantly remained a preserve and prerogative of the Brahmin society.  I would like to see this as a book of ideas, as I have tried to suggest what can be done to improve any sphere of life that I have encountered so far – as far as it affects the life and times of people around.BFirst.in: Your observations and questions on the societal front – as to how people from castes other than Brahmins have been deprived of the knowledge are sure to disturb the music society in Chennai and in fact the south India. Are you ready to face the situation that may arise because of your strong views?Krishna: It is high time we have asked these questions. The situation is so oppressive that people from other cases lower down the order in the society (unfortunately still prevailing) feel intimidated even to attend concerts, what to speak of trying to learn music from maestros, who mostly are from the Brahmin community. I am questioning this social order and its practice when it comes to music and its spread and how can sections of society be deprived of knowledge?  I am may be unpopular in the music fraternity here for challenging the music societal order prevalent for centuries, but I know it is proper to bring in people from all castes and creeds into Carnatic music.BFirst.in: You have been in the music industry for such a long time. At a young age you have accomplished a lot too and you are a guru to many. How many non-Brahmin students or students from the SC/ST community you have taught yourself?Krishna: I must admit, none. But I am making a promise that I will make a beginning, by teaching such students myself as also bringing in other musicians of repute to do so. I don’t want it to be a government body or so, but it would be a collective of individual private efforts and not a government run centre or so. I hope I would be able to bring around few musicians and start teaching the downtrodden – not necessarily only from this or that caste. Anyone, who wants learn and cannot afford it for any reason is welcome. In six months’ time, I would surely in a position to give you the result of my efforts in numbers.  I want to build an environment that is free and embrace people from all communities regardless class, colour, creed, caste, religion or domicile.There are some government music colleges where students from every community get a chance to learn music, but it is seldom that anyone comes up to that level because of the tight Brahminical order that exists in the Carnatic music world.BFirst.in:  What is the future of Carnatic music? Where is it going?Krishna: Fortunately, Carnatic music and musicians are thriving because of a global interest in this form of classical music. In fact, many musicians of all age groups are on foreign tours, concerts that are well paid for, and patronage by foreigners – not just from the NRI community though it is a big chunk of support base. Carnatic music is lucky in that this is the only classical music form in the world that has many accomplished practitioners who are relatively young in age – below 50, which is a rare thing in other forms of classical music in the world. Already, two generations after me are ready to make it big in the Carnatic music industry and the future of the music too is in very safe hands.