T.M. Krishna, the man who breaks the shackles of social conditioning in the world of classical music, has derided the idea of “language imperialism” stating that all language is “sonic extravaganza” and every one of them “artistically a musical catalyst”.
The Carnatic vocalist, who describes himself as a person from the “inner of the inner circle”, was in conversation with author and professor Ananya Vajpeyi on the subject of “Between the Song and Silence” at the Art Matters dialogue series organised by the Raza Foundation at the India International Center here last evening.
His most profound observation on silence, which is described as an “active idea “that tells us what to do, came as he reflected on collaborations with Perumal Murugan, the Tamil writer who fought and won his battle for free speech.
Krishna said he was often surprised by the “versatile and intriguing patterns” of Murugan’s poetry and the politics of silence contained in them. “Perumal Murugan writes so beautifully because he is quiet,” he said.
The maverick singer, who was initiated into classical music at a very early age, said he wanted more people to come into the field and “explore the silence” within the music. “The idea of silence has nothing to do with whether you are singing or not. It’s about the fact that we always need to be aware of intention, the intention to place yourself.”
As a musician, he said he believed “empathy”, the ability to feel your surroundings without involving you own self, is central to movement.
He said he found this feeling most pronounced in Raga Kambhoji.
Krishna said he was often surprised by the “versatile and intriguing patterns” of Murugan’s poetry and the politics of silence contained in them.
“Kambhoji is empathy; the most beautiful thing about an art experience is the idea of empathy. I interpret it as an ability to feel another person, environment or anything, without you have any stake in it. If I become a factor to that experience, I don’t feel empathy, I feel sympathy,” he said. “Empathy is something that occurs when that element of you being the focus of that emotion dissolves or disappears. Isn’t it that we feel in an art experience?”
As a bonus to the lively session Krishna gave a rendition of his powerful and politically charged Chennai “Purampokk Song” that also brought the intricacies of Carnatic ragas in a song for everyone.
The Raza Foundation’s Art Matters is a running series of panel discussions and dialogues on arts and culture held at the India International Centre, Lodhi Estate in New Delhi. The conversation with TM Krishna was the 47th in the series.
Over the past four years, the popular forum has witnessed conversations with eminent personalities and expert practitioners drawn from the world of ideas, literature, visual arts, performing arts, among other disciplines and traditions.
The Foundation, set up by the late artist S.H. Raza, provides support and platforms for various arts, publications, and fellowships, especially aimed at young talent.