A lovely interview with KV Narayanaswamy.


So what should one do? In our youth we have so many thoughts, so many ideas — some good, some wasteful. As we grow older, we slowly shed the wasteful. the unnecessary. the ridiculous. We become mature through life’s experiences, become discerning and acquire the ability to sift and retain only the good. In art, in music, it is the same. When we are young, the body is strong and we entertain all kinds of ideas. We reel off swara-s and briga-s in showers, we scintillate audiences with power, we compel audiences to applaud. We make a name for ourselves as performers capable of great things in music. We need time, we need experience, to come to terms with our art. But, at some stage, shouldn’t we cultivate ‘sowkhyam’ in our music? And restraint? Shouldn’t we, for example. sing a raga briefly and still capture its true identity? I used to hear Veena Dhanammal play Sankarabharanam in my youth. She would reveal the raga swarupa in all its glory in just a few minutes. We should also aim for that instead of wasting time searching for Sankarabharanam all over the place in a long alapana. Searching is necessary. of course, but it must be well directed.

An essential prerequisite for this to happen is suddham, purity, in personal life also. A musician should have satvik habits with the emphasis on moderation and understatement; he should be god-fearing and devoted to the music, and he should eschew any activity that can upset his physical well- being. As a Tamil proverb has it, how can one draw a picture without the wall [the canvas] ?