Sangita Kalanidhi (Designate) TM Krishna

Vishnu Vasudev
3 min readMar 19, 2024

The news came a few days ago of TM Krishna being conferred the Sangita Kalanidhi by the Madras Music Academy. I did not expect to revel in the moment, as I did. After all, it is only an award, which like most awards is somewhat arbitrary in nature. It is also an award from an institution that I have criticized in the past for being unwelcoming and smug. And yet, there is a momentary sense of all being right in the world, of sense prevailing.

Krishna has not sung at the Academy or indeed at any other sabha during the December music season for about a decade now. He is a controversial figure in the Carnatic music world — for calling out unthinking orthodoxies within that world. For some, his merely asking that orthodoxies be re-examined dispassionately is sacrilege. He is also a controversial figure in the Carnatic music world for what he is outside that world — a person with a thinking heart and loving mind that is unafraid to use either to engage public opinion in any issue he sees as worth exploring. But then there is the small matter of his music. Which throughout his experimentation with form, format, composition, pace, seating, setting and presentation has remained consistently true, captivating and impossible to disown. It is as though the Carnatic Music world can’t live with or without Krishna, as one might imagine the world of boxing and Muhammad Ali through a miniature Indianized kaleidoscope.

Given all this, it is delightful that egos on all sides have not come in the way of conferring and accepting this award. Indeed the announcement and acceptance have both been marked by grace.

As I look back at my writing on this blog, I realise that so much of it has been in response to Krishna — to what he has sung, written or said. There are very few musicians who have shared of their own music, of their own understanding of music, of their own knowledge of music, as frequently and freely as he has. My understanding has been shaped by his output — not just of the art form, but of myself, as I have felt compelled to think and form and opinion about what he has said or sung. For this, I am truly grateful.

Here is a round up of all my previous blog posts that have in response to his music or his views. Well done Music Academy. Congratulations Krishna!

In response to musical pieces

In response to views

In response to concert experiences

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Vishnu Vasudev

I write mainly about my experience as a listener of Carnatic music.