Simplified classical music could reach more people: Sudha Raghunathan

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New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Leading Carnatic vocalist and multiple awards-winning composer Sudha Raghunathan, who believes that although simplifying classical music leads to more listeners relating to the emotion and content of the composition, it depends on the individual artist’s will, would perform in the capital on Sunday.

The 2015 Padma Bhushan recipient, in collaboration with Bharatanatyam exponent Rama Vaidyanathan, will pay tribute to her guru M.L. Vasanthakumari or MLV (1928-1990), a noted Carnatic musician and playback singer for films in many Indian languages, on her 90th birth anniversary.

Raghunathan, who is an avid Carnatic performer herself, believes that simplification of any classical music form by explaining the ‘akriti’ (composition) would mean reaching out to more people, and those who are on the fringe and want to come into classical music.

“Simplifying Carnatic music is difficult, since it gets its ‘swaroopa’ in its completeness. You simplify through explaining a little bit about the ‘kriti’, also because Carnatic music encompasses so many languages — Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Sanskrit and even Marathi and Bengali,” she said.

“If listeners cannot relate to the raga as such, they can relate to the emotion and content of the song,” Chennai-based Raghunathan told IANS.

However, she also held that the simplification “depends on the artist and their mindset and if they feel their role in music would be fulfilling if they reach out to more people.

On the tribute to her guru, under whom the 1994 Kalaimamani Award and 2004 Padma Shri recipient trained for nearly 13 years, said that it was a “great honour to be dedicating this to her guru, because she won the hearts of not only people in the south (of India) but she has a lot of fan-following in the north as well”.

It’s noteworthy that Raghunathan was under the tutelage of her guru M. L. Vasanthakumari as part of a gurukul system, something she sees radically changing now.

“For my generation, I was one of the last who did a kind of system of gurukul learning. I would go to her in the morning and would wait until she herself allowed me to leave. It was very unconditional. I would do everything for her, not just learning music, I would post letters for her, do cooking and her washing,” she said. “It’s difficult to have that anymore — times are changing”.

“We don’t have the real gurukul system anymore in Carnatic music because students of music are studying or are occupied with other, second, professions. They are riding two horses,” she said.

The dance and music tribute ‘Samadrishti’ at India Habitat Centre (IHC) will revisit some of the compositions popularised by their guru and doyenne in her concerts as well as in Tamil Cinema.

The concert will feature songs in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Sanskrit. Tickets can be bought online at



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