Carnatic music classrooms are usually spaces where serious conversations are minimal. But TM Krishna is bringing a change to that scenario with his upcoming masterclass. He aims to nurture fearless and serious engagement with Carnatic music.
"Students repeat music after the teacher, follow instructions and explore as per directions given. Self-censorship is normalised. Every student knows the kind of questions that will be encouraged and what remains out of bounds. Therefore, many things are just accepted as they are. I do hope my masterclasses change this nature of a music classroom. Nothing is beyond questioning, most importantly the teacher (in this case me) can be challenged,” Krishna starts the conversation.
He is one of the few musicians who spoke against the Carnatic music system and pulled the music concerts from city sabhas to beaches. Like how he brings a difference to the music system, Krishna’s masterclasses from August 17 to 31 have a lot to look forward to. A few of the topics include the sound of gender, do I need to agree with the composer, who own Carnatic music and what is bhakthi.
Explaining the reason for combining practical and theoretical aspects in the classes, he shares, “Music is learned within a small cultural bubble. Everything that exists within that environment is accepted and all that exists beyond is considered irrelevant to the music itself. These constructed limitations are psychological, social, emotional and political and they influence our relationship with Carnatic music, the learning and performance of the music. This needs to change. Learning must break down these invisible barriers."
The musician is someone who believes that it is essential to teach the socio-cultural aspects of classical music. "I had wonderful teachers, but I did not learn music in a manner that allowed me to understand its larger social canvas. After years of cultural exploration, I have realised the importance of grappling with socio-cultural realities. We have to learn to perceive music as a social construct, even if the experience is divine," says the Magsaysay awardee.
Krishna expects the sessions to be intense, consisting of singing and conversations in an environment where participants can learn and express themselves freely. "I will build on this for the future and hope participants will take the learnings forward," he remarks.