Thursday, January 16, 2014

Words and music

There they are on stage, two of Chennai's favourite sons. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the elder one, is in conversation with T.M. Krishna, a star on the Carnatic music circuit. I can claim to be in the same class as Mr. Gandhi, for he said he knows little about music. (While saying that, he also reminded the audience about MS Subbulakshmi's response when Mahatma Gandhi praised her singing: What does he know about Carnatic music?) As the Mahatma's grandson, Gopalakrishna Gandhi was only being true to his heritage. 

Krishna's heritage, on the other hand, is steeped in the Carnatic music tradition. As one of the younger generation, he has - in my limited understanding - enhanced the tradition by trying to break out of the structures that had become ossified around the art. Of course that has brought him detractors, but it has also endeared him to the younger crowd, even those who might not be able to tell a ragam from a talam

What is the singer doing at a lit-fest? Well, primarily because the conversation was around Krishna's latest book, "A Southern Music - The Karnatik Story". Of course it was informative and entertaining - Krishna did a little bit of a lec-dem routine - and the Q&A session was fun. Even though Krishna did address it in a tangential way in the beginning, the question "Why have you narrowed South Indian music to Carnatic music?" did not get a full answer at the end!

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