‘We must make the Chennai music scene less centred on the December season’

Swetha Kannan

In a candid interview with Twaang, Carnatic singer T. M. Krishna explains his rather bold decision to distance himself from the most coveted December music season in Chennai.

You have raised several issues pertaining to the sabha culture in the past. In a sense, many perhaps saw this decision to not sing at the December season anymore coming. Can you pin down the big trigger behind this?

There is no specific trigger. My own journey in trying to discover the music and its context led to some fundamental changes in me. In a way, this decision was coming, it was only a question of when. The way I see music as an experiential form, my issues with the unscrupulous commodification of the art, especially during the season, and the social hegemony in the Carnatic world has led me to feel more and more distanced from the music season environment. I do think the texture of the music season has changed over the last decades.

Do you feel you cannot point fingers at the system and still be part of it? Is that why you want to graciously step aside?

I am unable to offer music ‘in quiet’ amidst the music season’s noisiness. I am not as yet completely outside the system! I will be singing concerts throughout the year.

Aren’t kutcheris in the other months of the year also similar to the concerts during the December season, perpetuating the same beliefs and culture? 

I think the December season shows us all the symptoms of the serious problems in the Carnatic music world that need to be understood with all their nuances. And I do think that though governed by the same culture, musicians, rasikas and organisers have a calmer mind to listen and discuss music in the other months. I have a lot of respect for the sabhas as they have contributed to the art and I cannot deny that. Maybe by being part of the established music tradition beyond December we can work together and consider changes to the music world. It may be easier to have these conversations beyond the pandemonium of the music season. We have to make the Chennai music scene less centred on the music season.

The UrurOlcottMargazhiVizhain Chennai’s fishing hamlet early this year saw an alternative format emerging. You spearheaded that in a big way. What is going to happen to this vizha now? Will it get stronger, bigger in the years to come? 

 You can be sure that UrurOlcottkuppam festival will happen in 2016. It will certainly be stronger but not necessarily bigger. I am not sure that for an idea to contribute purposefully it really needs to become bigger.

A section of the sabha going population now feels the season will lose its shine a bit considering you are an icon of sorts in the field. I am sure these rasikas want to know if this decision is a permanent, irrevocable one…

I can assure everyone that they can hear me rest of the year. But this decision is irrevocable.

You have for some time now been moving away from just music. We hear and read you in other formats too. You are a writer, philosopher and more. What else is cooking? 

Music is what gives me everything. Whatever I say comes from the experience of music, therefore music can never leave me, nor can I ever let go of it. There are a few things I am trying, let’s see.

Pic Courtesy- www.tmkrishna.com


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