For stronger rasika connect, Carnatic musicians take social media route

    CHENNAI: Recently, when Carnatic vocalists Ranjani and Gayathri held a music mentoring class in the US with students Vani and Ravali, their father decided to record the session and post it on Facebook, a video which ended up going viral, recently hitting over lakh-and-a-half views.

    “It was an unplanned session. If we had known he was recording it, we may have made sure the lighting was better,” laughs Ranjani. “Still, the video came out well and people seem to love it,” says Ranjani. The singing sisters have also put up other practice sessions on their Facebook page, which they say is just another way of connecting with rasikas.With audience demographics diversifying, several Carnatic musicians – both established and fresh on the scene – are seeking newer ways, ‘less confined’ to connect with their rasikas, from posting impromptu practice sessions online to participating in jam sessions.

    “The idea is to make Carnatic cool, to reach out not just to our rasikas but to newer audiences as well,” says classical musician K N Shashikiran, who is organising a Carnatic jam on Tuesday the occasion of World Music Day.

    “We are planning a Carnatic jam, raga jam, swara jam and percussion jam. It is just a way of showing that musicians and vocalists are fluid in their performances and not always formal,” says Shashikiran, who adds that jams and concerts will be on all day at various venues from Marina Beach to Nageswara Rao Park in Mylapore, to a finale jam at Mylapore Fine Arts Club featuring singer Sudha Raghunathan.

    Raghunathan says that though she has no idea what to expect at the session, she has ‘got a good feeling about it.’ “It’s wonderful to be able to interact with other musicians and vocalists and see what happens when there is no fixed path to the kutcheri,” says the singer, who will soon be posting her practice sessions on Facebook, because of audience demand. “My rasikas have been telling me for long that they want to be involved in the manodharmic or creative improv aspects of singing and making music. I think it’s time to let them into that world of mine, just for a stronger connect,” says Raghunathan.

    While senior musicians like Raghunathan are getting into the virtual world for a more real connect, newer vocalists like Sriranjani Santhanagopalan, says her social media posts and videos have definitely increased her following. From Carnatic trivia to song requests from rasikas and rendering of unusual ragas, Santhanagopalan tries to keep the tempo up on her Facebook page.

    “At almost every concert, I get song requests from the audience that I cannot render because of a lack of time. So, I try and post videos of me singing those songs online and my rasikas seem to like that,” says Santhanagopalan, who has 10,000 followers on her page and manages at least 20,000 views on her videos. “I’ve even figured out that you need to keep the videos under five minutes because the attention span online is much less,” she adds. “It all just goes towards giving Carnatic a global appeal,” says Shashikiran.


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