We, the Carnatica Brothers K.N.Shashikiran & P.Ganesh, are South Indian Classical duo singers. We live in Chennai, but hop around the world for most part of the year, performing concerts, lecture demonstrations, conducting workshops and camps and teaching our students around the world! If you'd like to contact us for performances or if you'd just like to say hi, feel free to mail us at carnaticabrothersatgmaildotcom! :)
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It’s a rasikas world out there!

Over 30 days, about 800 artistes and 5000 concerts, nearly 30000 rasikas – that, dear reader, just about sums up the December music festival. A cultural extravaganza of mammoth proportions; a festival unparalleled in quality and quantity; a time for rasikas and musicians to rejoice together; a time when sabha canteens do roaring business - that’s the December season for you! With the month of Margazhi already known for its devotional fervour, the December music season is but the icing on the cake! As Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, the doyen of Carnatic music, would say, “God resides in Chennai during December”!

Amidst all the festivity, rasikas play the pivotal role of consumers. And the consumer, as marketers say, is king. Interestingly, Tyagaraja, one of the greatest composers of Carnatic music, describes Lord Rama as ‘Rasika Shironmani’, meaning ‘the best among rasikas’, in his Todi composition ‘Dasarathi Nee Runamu’. He says that it was because of Rama, the rasika, that his fame spread even to far off lands!

Being consumers, rasikas shoulder two major responsibilities. First, it is they who make or break a musician’s career, for the primary index of a musician’s popularity is number of rasikas who attend his/her concerts. Second, rasikas have the responsibility of applauding the artistes at the right moments during the concert, motivating him/her to perform better. This will benefit our system immensely, for it will ensure that quality of performances is maintained.

Unbridled enthusiasm

The music season, the roots of which were sown in 1927, with concerts organized as part of the All India Congress Session’s Music Conference, has grown so much over the years that the festival fever starts as early as August – not just in Chennai, but across the world. Even before the sabhas announce their schedules and awardees, rasikas analyse threadbare the possible contenders for the various awards, the top performers of the year and the young talents to watch out for, on internet forums. Reviews of concerts in remote parts of the world are posted, making the music world a very small place indeed! Unknown artistes get a global presence. For NRIs who are unable to attend the season, the reviews on the forums act like live commentary. Forum members also discuss technical aspects, learn about ragas, compositions and composers. Websites and forums like rasikas.org, carnatica.net, kutcheribuzz.com and chennaionline.com are favourite haunts on the web for many rasikas. Says Rajee Krishnan, composer and member of a popular internet forum on Carnatic music, “it is interesting, the way we learn from each other. There are many gifted folks on the forum”.

All this should in turn make rasikas more accountable. There are some who write with pseudonyms and attempt to malign the names of popular musicians. Although moderators on the forums act quickly to remove such posts, one hopes that rasikas themselves with act with more responsibility.

As for the concerts, there is almost a mad scramble for season tickets in the major sabhas – so much so, that they are sold out well before the season begins. The secretary of one of the major sabhas tells me that season tickets were sold out three months ahead of the festival this year! To help sabha-hopping rasikas plan their schedules, a booklet with schedules of all sabhas is printed before the season and rasikas duly arm themselves with copies!

Diversity of rasikas

Rasikas range from children to nonagenarians. While there are the older rasikas who believe that the “golden era” of Carnatic music is long gone and can never happen again, some of our youngsters still prefer film and other genres of music over Carnatic. Why? “The atmosphere is too formal and the music, too abstract!” they say. A few artistes have experimented with their concerts, keeping this view in mind, and have succeeded to a considerable extent.

Then, there are newbies and there are those that have been attending concerts for several decades. Besides, there’s one category of rasikas that understands and appreciates the delicate intricacies and subtle nuances in a concert. They are the connoisseurs. There’s another category that does not know much, but makes a genuine attempt to learn. You’ll find them looking up that small booklet on compositions and their ragas, or consulting a fellow rasika, every time the musician begins a new song! These are the “kaansens”, as Pandit Shivkumar Sharma calls them. There’s yet another category of rasikas who find the air-conditioned comfort of the concert hall the best place for their midday siesta. Or for reading and re-reading the day’s newspaper until it’s in tatters. Or for showing off their latest collection of silk sarees and finery. Or even for finding prospective grooms for their neighbour’s sister’s friend’s niece! Oh, well, there’s enough entertainment on the stage and off it too!

Issues to be addressed

Amidst all the festivity, the hype and hoopla, there are some issues that cry out for attention. First, that ubiquitous mobile phone! Why rasikas leave their mobile phones in the loud mode when it takes about 2.876 seconds to switch it to vibrate is a question that has baffled many musicians. There is a subset of these I-will-keep-my-mobile-phone-in-loud-mode-come-what-may rasikas who answer calls from the seats, speaking loud enough for the entire auditorium to hear, above the sound of the music! Second, the compelling need for half the audience to stage an exodus the moment the clock strikes eight or when the tani avartanam begins. The tani avartanam is an interesting component of a concert and just as integral a part of it as the main performance itself. It takes only a sincere effort on the part of rasikas to begin to appreciate tani avartanams.

As for the 8 o’ clock syndrome, transportation problems and domestic commitments have probably created it. It would help though, if the audience does not mill about in the middle of a song. On these issues, we’d do well to learn from our Western counterparts. “Leaving during the middle of a concert can be distracting to the artistes on stage and has to be avoided by rasikas. If the exit is unavoidable, they would do well to sit at the back or leave as silently and inconspicuously as possible at the end of a song,” says Sathej, a rasika.

But being the incurable optimist that I am, I strongly believe that things will change for the better, that rasikas will work, together with musicians, for the progress of Carnatic music. It’s a rasikas world out there, after all!

K. N. Shashikiran

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Welcome to the Carnatica Brothers' blog!

Read our views on various music-related issues, get updates on our concert schedule and see our latest photos. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to listen to our music. Comment on the blog posts and keep in touch with us through our blog!

Concert Schedule

  • July 29th - Aug 26th (Mon-Fri) - Carnatic Summer Course (Middlesex Community College)
  • Aug 14th - Aug 16th - Chicago (Workshop for Akshaya)
  • Aug 27th - Sept 11th - Carnatic Summer Camp (Novi, Michigan)
  • Sept 12th - World Peace Concert (Detroit)
  • Sept 18th - Oct 13th - Europe tour (Details will be put up soon!)

Tracks from our albums

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Shashikiran's solo renditions & his musical score for the dance-drama 'Silappadikaram'

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Concert Recordings

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