By B. Parvathi

N. Ravikiran, a vocalist and a Chitravina maestro, popularly known as Chitravina Ravikiran has been selected for this year’s Sangita Kalanidhi award. He is a resident of Palavakkam. Sangita Kalanidhi is considered to be the highest accolade in the field of Carnatic music given by the Music Academy. The award will be conferred on him on Jan.1, 2018.

He is an instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, guru and an author and was a child prodigy. He has received various awards like the Sangeet Natak Akademi award by the Government of India, Kalaimamani award by the Tamilnadu State. He got training in playing the Chitravina from his father N. Narasimhan and vocal music from T. Brinda.

What is your contribution to Carnatic music?

I was instrumental in the Music Academy adopting to restore Gottuvadhyam its original name Chitravina in 1990. I have also popularised many kritis of Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyar and have composed nearly 800 kirtanas. I have set to music the 1330 couplets of Thirukural in 16 hours spread over 3 days at the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Taramani and have used 169 ragas opting one raga for each section of 10 couplets. I have authored books with titles- Appreciating Carnatic music, Perfecting Carnatic Music and Inaiyatra Innisai.

What steps have you taken to make Carnatic music understandable to the common man who has no background of Carnatic music?

The film music attracts the ordinary but Carnatic music is hard to follow. From my early age I have taken steps to make Carnatic music accessible to people in both urban and rural areas and also to people of various states of India as well as other countries which do not have so much Indian population but have big international music festivals.
In 2006, I conducted a rural music camp for thousands of school children under the Sarva Siksha Abhayan of the Government of India.

What is Melharmony?

This is a new concept that I created in world music. Melharmony is bridging, aspects of the Indian melodic system with the western harmonic system.

It is a melody with harmony and chords that conforms to evolved melodic systems such as the raga system of Indian music. It is a new approach to compositions and aesthetics in world music that I pioneered at the Millennium Festival in the UK in October 2000.

While playing the Chitravina, do you play popular kritis that is easy for the audience to follow or rare kritis?

I perform 75% of popular compositions. I take the responsibility to popularise and share rare compositions of famous composers in at least 25% in my concerts.

Do you like to perform thematic concerts?

I love to perform thematic concerts. It gives a chance to explore on unsung compositions of various composers.

What are your ideas and suggestions to attract audience for budding artistes in Sabhas?

Sabhas cannot do anything to attract crowd. Sabhas are a platform for artistes to perform. Artistes have to work hard and perform well to draw a crowd. Of late I have seen young artistes draw a big crowd by their performance. It depends on the formula of input versus output.

What are your aspirations?

My aspiration is to contribute to Carnatic music as much as possible. I want to globalise Carnatic music through Melharmony and work in collaboration with other artistes of jazz, rock, western classical, Chinese or Brazilian music and introduce our Indian Carnatic compositions by making them perform these songs. I have brought out several DVDs on Carnatic music with structural syllabus making it easy for students to follow and teach many Indian and foreign students through I also founded the International Foundation for Carnatic Music, an organisation devoted to promoting Carnatic music across the world. I have involved in numerous charitable, social and educational initiatives by raising fund through Carnatic concerts.

Do you like to compose music for films?

I have no objection to composing music for films provided I like the film, the scene and have a good working relationship with the director of the film. It should be motivating for me to compose music.

What is your advice to budding artistes?

Of late many youngsters have taken music as their profession. It is a good trend. It is like any other profession. It requires a lot of patience, practice and hard work and an open mind to explore. With a lot of faith in their gurus and with their confidence and hard work they can climb the ladder of success. They will draw a big crowd too.

Chitravina Ravikiran can be reached at: