It is a misconception that Carnatic music is not inclusive: Saketharaman | Tamil movie news


The Carnatic musician Saketharaman will present a concert tomorrow which will focus on the defense of egalitarianism through music. From highlighting anticast ideologies to empowering women, the concert will feature the works of various Indian composers and social reformers on social equality. In an interaction with us, the singer explains how Carnatic music can be made inclusive, people who widen the appeal of the art form and more …

Your concert, Samatva, is based on the concept that Carnatic music should be for everyone…

Accessibility to learning and enjoying the Carnatic musical art form has been a barrier for many years now, across all demographic groups. Many musicians have made a significant contribution to making Carnatic music accessible to all audiences. DK Pattamal was a revolutionary who broke gender prejudices. My guru Lalgudi Jayaraman broke language barriers by generalizing carnatic instrumental concerts. Mandolin Srinivas broke regional and caste barriers when he took a Western instrument and produced the oscillations of Carnatic music and brought Western audiences to Carnatic music. Maadu Mekkum Kanne of Aruna Sairam resonated with every child breaking down age barriers; Bombay Jayashri brought the therapeutic aspects of music to children with special disabilities. These hurdles are being broken through the digital age today in various forms – web series, workshops, reality shows, where the ground is leveled and everyone has an equal chance to show off their talent. Digital initiatives by vidwans like Sanjay Subramaniam on ‘Short Notes’, in which ragas of Carnatic music are interspersed with movie songs, Sudha Raghunathan on ‘Expressions Expresso’, a talk show with celebrities from different fields, the Dr Sowmya’s Carnival Carnival through the gamification of music, and my own initiatives through my Samuditha Foundation with a motto of “Carnatic Music for All” provide entry points for heterogeneous audiences into Carnatic music. In fact, Samatva is based on the concept of spreading equality through Carnatic music. This is to highlight how the great composers and poets of Carnatic music, starting with Purandaradasa, Annamacharya, Avvayar, Thiruvalluvar, Subramania Bharathi and Ramalinga Adigal, advocated egalitarianism. This concert aims to bring the lesser known aspect of the social reform dimension of our great composers and poets.

What needs to be done to make Carnatic music inclusive? How does singing anti-caste songs in a concert, which will be mostly listened to by a certain section of people – despite being on a global platform like YouTube – help?
First of all, it is a misconception that Carnatic music is not inclusive. Like any form of classical music anywhere in the world, sponsorship is limited to a limited number of people due to the general belief that classical music is not for everyone. This is true with Western classical music, classical music in East Asia, and even in a form like jazz. The number of people who listen to classical music and even jazz has been static for years. Do you call it exclusive jazz? This notion of “exclusivity” must be broken down. On the one hand, I want more and more people to listen to Carnatic music and I would ask the media to get this message across. It’s a very enjoyable and creatively rewarding art form – it has so much variety and there is music for everyone. The Carnatic concert format has so much variety that anyone can enjoy it. The music we listen to is built into our character. The right message through the right music can transform society. Soul Queen Aretha Franklin sang ‘Respect’, which to this day is the anthem of black liberation. Michael Jackson stood out boldly when he sang “I’m not going to spend my life being a thing of color” on his album Black or White. I developed the anti-discrimination ideologies and gender parity themes of Carnatic composers and poets such as Bharathiar, who describes the woman not as conventional ‘acham, madame, naanam’, but dream of a neo -woman – ‘Nimirndha nannadai nerkonda paarvai’. The father of Carnatic music, Purandaradasa, sings with the message – The milk is the same color although it comes from cows of different colors. Annammayya shares that the soul is the same for all living beings in her Brahmamokatae. Thiruvalluvar shatters prejudices based on occupation. This is a unique concert, by a Delhi-based organization that promotes Carnatic music for young people. There is a live question-and-answer session after the concert where students from the school interact with me. The idea of ​​raising our voices for social equality will sow the seeds among students, who will be tomorrow’s opinion leaders in this country. When people listen to these social messages in the form of music, it has the power to rebel and reform.

To what extent do people not belonging to the carnatic music listening castes attend / listen to these concerts?

In my experience, people from all walks of life listen to Carnatic music. They always have. You go to different parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and you will see a lot of people from various walks of life attending concerts. Learning classical music, not just Carnatic music, is a different problem because generally people from families who have traditionally played classical music tend to start young – the same goes for Western classical or even jazz. . You need to start early and put in years of continuous practice under the guidance of dedicated teachers. So disadvantaged people were disadvantaged, but that is changing. During the pandemic, there was a wave of workshops, open to all, where students from composite backgrounds can learn from esteemed musicians.

As a well-known performer and individual, what have you done so far to make Carnatic music inclusive?

I try to make my music accessible and appealing to people from all walks of life and I can say with pleasure that followers do not belong to any particular class or background. I try to incorporate compositions that represent our diverse cultures, values ​​and composers in terms of content, language, ragas, rhythms, style, etc. I do my best to demystify the form – making it as enjoyable and meaningful as possible without diluting or compromising on classicism, which is the fundamental strength of Carnatic music. I teach people of all demographics at my music school, Kala Shiksha. Over 300 students learn from a variety of backgrounds. I have carefully organized the curriculum for students like Jessica, a devout Christian, who delights in singing about secular themes. Crossover With Saketh, where a form of Carnatic music is explained via a film music comparison so that people can understand that Carnatic music is for everyone and not just for the elite. I give “Contextual Carnatic Music Concerts”, where the emphasis is as much on the lyrics as on the musicality. I sing in different regional languages ​​so that people can understand the meaning of the songs. I explain the meaning in English of songs composed in Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil so that people all over the world can enjoy what I sing. I am in talks to expand my music school to rural areas around Mayiladuthurai and Madurai. “Pennum Pannum”, an annual event organized by the my Samuditha Foundation, celebrates the contribution of women composers who break gender stereotypes.

How ready is the Carnatic music community, seen as highly closed / exclusive, to accept strangers into its fold and embrace them?
Carnatic music has long had a traditional repertoire due to the demands and rigor of classical music. However, in recent times much of contemporary literature has been affirmatively incorporated into Carnatic music by many musicians. No classical musician, much less Carnatic musicians, wants his art to be exclusive. We want more people to listen, learn and expand the ecosystem.


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