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It is important to know who you sing for, says Abhishek Raghuraman
CHENNAI, January 3: "At a surface level, music is a tool to express myself. At a deeper level, it has elements that connect one to the Divine. We want moments where we forget ourselves. Keep blank and live in a state of bliss." That is 25-year-old Abhishek Raghuraman, the new star on the Carnatic music horizon, for you.

A grandson of Mridangist late Palghat Raghu, Abhishek the performing artiste is convinced an artiste should know who he/she sings for. "If I am singing for my generation, I should make it attractive for young listeners," he says. "Young ones usually are aggressive and care for tempo. Carnatic music can open up for them too," he adds. According to him, the sound of Carnatic music is not obsolete. It is still fresh, he points out. "Melody has no barrier in it," he feels. The Internet, he reckons, has spread the awareness of Carnatic music across the shores. "We may not be far from having a Chinese as a Carnatic musician," he avers.

On a cool Sunday morning in the music month of December, he takes his time off his busy concert schedule for a coffee chat at Rasam Restaurant with Deccan Chronicle. He looks the boy next door. Within few minutes of conversation, boy Abhishek reveals the artiste in him. It is indeed no surprise that he gets full house wherever he performs.

For him, concert platforms provide him a combination of two things. For one, they provide him a huge learning experience, as concerts offer him an opportunity to perform with different musicians for different audience at different venues. "These help you to accumulate experience," he points out. For another, concerts are also means for him to self-explore. "They help me to understand what I can do with my voice," he points out.

As a 25-year-old, how does it feel to be performing in concerts? "Nobody treats me as a junior," he says. It is imperative to perform as a cohesive unit so as to ensure that the concert is effective, he argues.

According to Abhishek, physical exercises are important. Pranayan, he says, helps one to know how to use different parts of the body for reaching different octaves. "As you keep learning, your voice expands and your vocal chord gets tuned," he points out.

"Music should be musical," he says. To make it musical, everybody (accompanists) plays his/her role. "The combination makes music a gripping experience," he says. "You can express many things with music apart from devotion," he argues. More than all these, it is important how it sounds to a lay listener. "It (music) is a counter-punch for the state of what I am in," he declares. Sonic perspective is very important, he says. Abhishek is secular when comes to music. It is always good to have the knowledge of the Hindustani music, he says. "By singing their system of scales, you can relate them to our music," he adds.

What is the high point in his musical journey thus far? For him, every concert he did with his grandfather was a high point in his life. According to him, his grandfather was a self-less person and was fair always. "He never talked to me about my concerts. He always expected me to correct myself," Abhishek points out. "It was a blessing in disguise to discontinue studies. I was able to be with him for more time and learn many things other than music." he says. Who is an ideal listener? Well, Abhishek feels an ideal listener is one who has musical mind, sensitive ears, no prejudice and comes to a concert just to enjoy and experience the joy.

After graduating in Mathematics from Vivekananda College in Mylapore, he moved to Anna University to do his Masters in Computer Science. Mid-way through, however, he quit as he found it tough to carry on the jugalbandi. Three summers have gone by since he junked computer education. Abhishek, however, has never looked back. This 25-year-old vocalist has already a fan club of his own. Given his family background, his passion for Carnatic music is very well understandable. His grand uncle (mother's uncle) is violin maestro Lalgudi Shri G. Jayaraman. Veena artiste Jayanthi Kumaresh is his aunt (mother's sister). If the `atmosphere' at home has had an influence on him to get deep into music, it has also come in handy for him to hone his talent. Though a serious Carnatic musician, he is a keen movie buff and won't like to give any Kamal or Rajani movie a miss! He does play TT (table tennis) to keep fit and watch cricket as millions do religiously in this country. Abhishek has a secular approach to music. He follows Hindustani music, listens to North Indian tabla and hears Chourasia flute. "If any offer comes, I will do film music," says he, revealing his cosmopolitan outlook to music.

If schooling in Chinmya Vidylaya and Padma Seshadri helped him to learn a bit of Sanskrit, he got acquainted with Kannada, thanks to his mother who comes from Bangalore. "I listen to a lot of Tyagaraja kritis," he says. This has helped him to get a hang of Telugu. "My grandfather suggested that I should learn from a proper guru who is a vocalist," Abhishek says. That has led him to come under the tutelage of Shri P.S. Narayanaswamy.


Read also: Abhishek Raghuraman weaves a spell in Bangalore concert