Missing a Beat

The state of writing about Hindustani classical music

01 December 2019
Abhishek Raghuram belongs to a triumvirate of the most popular male Carnatic vocalists.
rakesh nair / bccl
Abhishek Raghuram belongs to a triumvirate of the most popular male Carnatic vocalists.
rakesh nair / bccl

In January 2014, The Hindu carried a review of a concert that Abhishek Raghuram, a leading Carnatic vocalist in his mid thirties, gave at the prestigious Music Academy in Chennai. The concert, which I also attended, would have appeared to many as a great success. The venue was overflowing: after filling all the aisles with extra chairs, the ushers still had to turn many people away. The performance took place in the evening slot, which is reserved for those whom the organisation believes are the most deserving musicians. At the end of the concert, the audience gave the young musician a long standing ovation. In the review, the writer, Veejay Sai, nevertheless wrote the following:

Abhishek lacks a sense of proportion and often overdoes his exhibitionist method, almost playing to the galleries. While Abhishek is certainly a gifted artist for his age, for now, the recall effect from his music is obscured by his gimmickry. High on technique, low on music and zero on aesthetic, to sum it all up.

Abhishek belongs to a triumvirate of the most popular male Carnatic vocalists. The other two are TM Krishna, roughly ten years older than Abhishek, and Sanjay Subrahmanyan, about twenty years his senior. He comes from a family of prominent musicians, such as the mridangam player Palghat Raghu and the violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, which gives him considerable pedigree. Finally, those who know the Carnatic world will be aware that the Music Academy’s president, N Murali, is part of the family that owns The Hindu. The writer was not daunted by any of this.

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    Sumana Ramanan has worked with leading media organisations for 25 years, and is now a freelance journalist interested in history, political economy and culture. She is also a student of Hindustani vocal music.

    Keywords: TM Krishna Hindustani music Hindustani classical music criticism
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