VIDWAN ABHISHEK RAGHURAM IN MANGALORE, INDIA, NOVEMBER 2017. BY SUSHMA P MAYYA. PHOTOGRAPHS BY K PRATHVIRAJ SHASTRY
Vidwan Abhishek Raghuram is a world-famous Carnatic Musician and a Mridangist. Hailing from a family of legendary musicians, as the grandson of the late mridangam legend, Sri Palghat Raghu, Abhishek Raghuram started learning the mridangam from his grandfather and then moved on to vocal training under Vidwan Sri. P. S. Narayanaswamy. Today, Abhishek is one of the most heard Carnatic vocalists in India and abroad. He has performed with several eminent musicians like Dr.T.K.Murthy, Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Karaikudi Mani, Trichy Sankaran, G. Harishankar, Ganesh Kumaresh, Mysore Nagaraj and Manjunath, Jayateerth Mewundi, Sanjeev Abhyankar, etc. Possessing a combination of virtuosity, aesthetics and intellect, Abhishek has created a new genre in the field of music that, according to critics is “food for the intellect, mind, heart and soul”. He could very well be on his way to creating a new Gharana, something that could have a big impact in the Indian music world.
After concert at Sangeethotsava - 17, Abhishek Raghuram spoke to Beauty Wall Spot's Sushma P Mayya in Mangalore. They spoke about Music, Spreading the musical awareness and other aspects of musical life.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Namaste Sir 🙂
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Namaste
SUSHMA P MAYYA: We enjoyed your concert today at Sangeethotsva - 17. It was fantastic!
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Thank you so much.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: There was a wonderful response to your concert today. It was fantastic!! So, when do you think a student of music can start giving concerts?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Thank you. [pause]. See, I will give you an analogy. When do you think a doctor can do surgery?
SUSHMA P MAYYA: They have to learn by doing it, otherwise they’ll never know if they are ready.
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Aah, Yes, that is the way. When a doctor thinks he is ready to do surgery he starts doing it, right? It is the same way with a musician. Before a doctor becomes a surgeon, how many years of training does he take? Starting from Pre KG till MBBS, an aspiring doctor keeps learning for a long stretch of time. The same amount of training is necessary for giving a performance.
"It is better if the music is not forced on children. If it is forced, they might develop an aversion towards it. Even though music has its rules, practising must be an inner motivation. If it is forced, it won’t work."
- Abhishek Raghuram
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Nice Analogy 🙂 Tell us about your musical childhood?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: I was actually never forced to practise music. They only asked me to concentrate on academics. Even my grandfather asked me to study well. I feel it is better to make the child learn music on his/her preference. I only practised whenever I felt like.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Is it the right way to learn music in your opinion?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: It is preferable. It is better if the music is not forced on children. If it is forced, they might develop an aversion towards it. Even though music has its rules, practising must be an inner motivation. If it is forced, it won’t work.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: It is assumed that children do not know what is right and what is wrong. So, don’t you think guiding them with the practice seems to be necessary?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: I will tell you an interesting thing. My daughter goes to a Montessori. There the parents are asked to allow the child to select the dress they want to wear each day so that the child learns how to make choices. Even with regard to activities, one must allow the child to choose.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Very thought provoking!! Parents need to ponder on this. The great legend Palghat Raghu, who was also your grandfather was there as your mentor. For others who are not so fortunate, won’t it be difficult?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: If you have the passion for music, you will find your mentor somehow. What matters is your interest and passion.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Rightly said. Do you think, one should have a good voice to sing?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Yes, it is the most important thing. It is like if you want to play violin, you have to have a violin with you right?
SUSHMA P MAYYA: It’s not that each and everybody can sing?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Even if a person does not have a good voice, he can sing. But he has to learn how to sing in the right way.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: What is music for you?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: [pause] hmm.. [thinking].. It is like pooja. Why do you do pooja?
SUSHMA P MAYYA: For peace of mind.
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Exactly!! To cleanse ourselves. Music is like pooja.
Listen to Abhishek Raghuram's latest music.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Moving on to the next question, how important is basics in music?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: I am sorry to give you the analogy again. Without knowing A B C D.., you cannot learn English and without learning 1 2 3 4 5.. you cannot learn mathematics. Similarly, for music the basics are important.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Okay. In your opinion, how important is Sahityam in Music?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: It’s a very subjective question, it depends on where the music is presented. Importance of Sahithyam varies from environment to environment. Let me ask you this, if somebody is singing a German song in a concert that you are attending, how important are the lyrics for you? Are you going to listen to the music or lyrics?
SUSHMA P MAYYA: If the music is soothing, I will surely listen to it.
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Yes, here, you are listening to the music. So when I present Carnatic music before a foreign audience, who have no idea about any Indian language, the sonic perspective or sonic effect of the lyric is important than the actual meaning of the lyric. Every Sahithyam has a sonic beauty. But the lyrical beauty works in a very limited environment. In music, sound gets more importance.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Do you have any favourite raga?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: I used to have one. I used to like Shanmukhapriya a lot. There was one phase in my life when I used to sing Shanmukhapriya daily.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Oh Wonderful!! Who is your favourite Musician?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: All yesteryear musicians. And among most recent musicians, it's Mandolin U Srinivas.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Who inspired you in your musical journey?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: I cannot point out any one person. In fact, all musicians whom I listened to, have inspired me.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Can music be a remedy for social evils like poverty and crime?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Poverty, unfortunately no. It may be a good solution for crossing lot of social barriers. Music is a language without words, so it may help break barriers of caste, creed and religion. But poverty and crime are deeper problems.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Does music have a spiritual connection?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Need not be. It is very subjective. Music can be a spiritual experience for some, for others, it may not be so.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: How to keep oneself connected with music all the time ?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Now there are so many diversions like the internet, television, movies etc. So it is very tough to stay connected with music all the time. That is why it has to come from within. It depends on the individual's talent to overcome these diversions and staying in one’s profession. No one can force one to remain connected with music.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: How to spread awareness about the art forms among children ?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Make it accessible to everyone. We often make the mistake of saying, to appreciate Carnatic Music, you need some knowledge about Carnatic music. Carnatic music is simply another form of a music. So, one need not necessarily know Ragam or Talam to appreciate Carnatic music. Even without knowing anything, one can sit in a concert and listen to it. That is how generic it should be. The more generic you make it, more people will come into it.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Are more people learning music nowadays?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: I think so. With the advent of technology, you can learn from anywhere. It is more accessible now. Availability of a good Guru, access to good music....everything is available now.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Do you think platforms like Beauty Wall Spot help in promotion of art?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Yeah definitely. Anything which has to do with technology definitely helps to promote the art. I only hope that the value of the art is retained while promoting it. Many promote art. Only a few retain the value of the art form. While introducing it to people who have no idea of the art form, it has to be done without prejudice. Promotion should be without bias.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: So finally, what is your message to youngsters?
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Assuming this is for music students, I think there are two things to be kept in mind. Firstly, your guru is the most important person in your musical journey. A student should be sincere and genuine about that. I was fortunate in that aspect. Secondly, it is important to listen to all yesteryear musicians. It will help you grow as a musician.
SUSHMA P MAYYA: Thank you so much for being with us and sharing your views with us.
ABHISHEK RAGHURAM: Thank you