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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The Role of an Accompanist

A Carnatic concert is built on the strong foundation of teamwork. A concert without concerted and complimenting effort on the part of all performers is like a building without foundation. For a successful concert, the musical conversation between the main artiste and the accompanists must be in perfect melodic and rhythmic harmony. The sync must be achieved in mind, heart and soul.

Musical giants of yesteryears ensured success by having a united team on stage. The camaraderie between the main artistes and their accompanists would be evident through the frequent exchanges of appreciative bale-s and sabhash-s. Competition sans professional jealousy undoubtedly helps increase the quality of the concert.

Traditionally, a Carnatic vocal concert has had a violin and a mrudangam as the accompanying instruments. However, quite interestingly, the violin is not an indigenous instrument! Originally used in Western music, it was adapted into Carnatic music only a few centuries ago. Before the violin, the harmonium was the key melodic accompanying instrument in Carnatic music. Occasionally, the vina, chitravina and flute have also been used. The tavil has been the usual percussion accompaniment in Nadaswaram concerts,

But innovations have always been welcome – this is evident from the fact that a completely Western instrument like the piano has recently made successful forays into Carnatic music. From being mere support artistes, accompanists have sought more pro-active roles for themselves. So much so, that the number of people choosing a career as an accompanist has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years. There are about 250 violinists, 500 mridangists and 100 upapakkadyam artistes today.

How important is the role of a violinist? “There are three things a violinist must keep in mind,” says violinist M.A.Sundaresan. “First, we must follow the main artiste and his/her style of singing. Second, we must occasionally bring in touches of our own school of music. Third, we must know when to start and when to stop!”

“In a concert, all the participating artistes contribute their knowledge and skill towards its success. The role of the accompanists is to heighten and embellish the concert, thereby lifting the concert to heights of ecstasy,” says mrudangam maestro Sangeeta Kalanidhi Umayalapuram K.Sivaraman.

What makes a good mrudanga vidwan? “I always take the role of the first rasika of the main artiste,” says Umayalapuram Sivaraman. “I involve myself in his music and translate the emotions of the main artiste on my mrudangam. My mrudangam becomes an approximation to the musical rendition of the main artiste.”

Kanjira artiste B.S.Purushottam echoes the maestro’s views. “Sensitivity and adaptability are the sine-qua-non for any accompanist. Our job is to follow the main artiste and the violin like a shadow. More importantly, what mrudangam is to vocal, kanjira is to violin.”

There is no doubt, then, that the success of a concert depends as much on the accompanists as it does on the main artiste. As someone rightly put it, a ‘pakkavadyam’ must be a ‘pakka vadyam’.



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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