Monday, July 24, 2017

An Illuminating Talk

Musician TM Krishna provides new insights to age-old concepts

Photo by Madhu Krishnan 

By Shevlin Sebastian

Moments before Carnatic musician TM Krishna began his talk, ‘The Artist As Citizen and The Citizen as Artist’, at the Dr. TK Ramachandran Memorial Lecture 2017 at Kochi, the rains came down.  Krishna looked out of the fifth-floor windows and said, “For a person who is coming from Chennai, these rains are unbelievably beautiful.”

It was a jam-packed hall comprising intellectuals, cultural and social figures, educationists, artists, scholars, students, as well as journalists.   

Very soon into the talk, you realise that Krishna has an unusual thought process.  “All the people coming into this space know how to come here,” he says. “They already know they are insiders. It is like all Left party members holding a meeting. There is no point. They talk to each other and feel very happy about themselves. But nothing is achieved by it.”

This is also the case when you go to a Carnatic music concert. “But what are we doing?” says Krishna. “We are basically saying, ‘We are wonderful people’. We are saying that, ‘People outside really don’t know anything, they are not good enough to come in. But if they want to come in there are certain rules and regulations which they have to understand before they can come in’.”  

It was a talk that made people aware of their thought processes. And Krishna was asking the audience to test their conclusions. And maybe adopt some changes. 

He gave an example: Some years ago, Krishna changed the way the musicians sat in a Carnatic concert. “I moved to one side and we sat in a C,” he said. “As soon as I did it, my control diminished. The sheer moving from the centre to the right changed the way I dealt with my own body. It almost felt that I was not that important any more. It changed the way I listened to the violinist. And it changed the way he listened to me.”

And it had an impact on the audience. They began listening to all the musicians differently. “Suddenly you saw two people who are in a hierarchy having an equal conversation: the ghatam and the mridangam,” he said. “There was a content disruption which is taking place. And it turned out to be so wonderful.”

These are just a few examples of the numerous insights, thought-processes and ideas which Krishna provided in his speech. For those who were interested in the subject, his lecture was nothing short of fascinating. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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