THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The words of Violin maestro V V Subramaniam brim with an elegance which reflects a life devoted for music. The veteran artiste has accompanied stalwarts in classical music for more than half-a-century. He defines music as a culture which carries a certain discipline. Learning from masters reinforces this culture among younger generations, says the doyen of Carnatic music. “We do not know how Thyagarajan had sung or for that matter any other great master. Yet, when it is carried down through an oral tradition, the singers get to realise the bhakthi, njana and rasa in the lyrics embedded in it,” he observes.
Accompanying the masters, according to him added to his performing style. “The style of each master is unique and there would have be a key aspect to each musician’s technique. A fusion of all those talents can act upon us by imparting a unique style to our performance,” he feels. He says that the interest for music can be inculcated among students only by experienced hands in music.
The interest, he reminds, would come only with the development and popularisation of art, which needs government support. “Our legacy is to hand down our acquired knowledge to others. As stated in Upanishads, the virtues of ‘vidyadanam’ needs to be upheld,” he says.
But the major hindrance he finds in channelising the knowledge is “once upon a time, music was taught as a separate subject in educational institutions. Also, there used to be the assurance of a job for a certificate holder in music. Now things have changed. There is not much job opportunities. It’s high time such incongruities are corrected,” he adds. Along with this, he finds the dwindling number of music sabhas (cultural organisations for the promotion of music) in Kerala one of the reasons for the decline in the status of music.
Subramaniam identifies the lack of facilities as a hindrance for youngsters who are passionate in learning music. “The state is the best in cultural activities. Beginning from Shadkala Govinda Marar, who was hailed by Thyagaraja as ‘endaro mahanubhavulu...’ to Swathi Thirunal, there has been a proud legacy of Carnatic music here,” he pointed out.
Yet, he seems a tad disappointed with the present state of affairs. After Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, the acclaimed Carnatic vocalist who passed away in 2008, there are few master musicians who can follow in his shoes, he says. “It is our duty to contribute in creating some masters who can further the spreading of the treasure of knowledge. Now there are music colleges in three different parts of the state. There should be more. Calicut is a good place to start one,” he says.
Speaking of his experience over these years, Subramaniam does not prefer to call any of his concerts or performances as the best. Yet, he recollects an incident etched in memory. “It was in 1964, while attending a week-long conference called East-West encounter. Yehudi Menuhin, one of the world’s best violinists was the chief guest. He found pronouncing the expansion of my initials - Vadakkencherry Veeraraghavan – extremely difficult and called me ‘violin virtuoso’ boy instead. His mentioning me thus made me feature in the book, Eternal India,” he smiles.
Before concluding, he says, “Music should reach everyone and everywhere as the language of love and compassion.”