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  . . About Us | Founder . .

Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian

Music is a powerful tool to harmonize Man with himself and his global environment

Brhaddhvani is the vision of Dr.Karaikudi S.Subramanian, a ninth generation vina player, grand nephew and adopted son of Karaikudi Vinai Sambasiva Iyer, the legendary vina player who was the first to receive the Presidential Award in 1952. Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian (Formerly Professor of Music, Department of Indian Music, University of Madras, 1986-2002) with the blessings of Dr. S. Seetha (Formerly Professor and Head of the Department of Indian Music, University of Madras) founded this organization in 1989 as a non-profit, tax exempted, registered trust. The trustees are eminent personalities in different disciplines, now chaired by Sri. Vinod Kumar (Visa International.)

Dr.Subramanian is one of the senior most A graded performing artistes on the vina with All India Radio. His musical experience begins from his boyhood from his mother Lakshmi Ammal and in the company of foremost traditional maestros of India extending to avant-garde artistes in a global context. His collegiate education spans from chemistry and English literature at the bachelors and post-graduate level respectively, to ethnomusicology for his doctorate at the Wesleyan University, USA. He is a combination of a vina player, an educationist, a writer, composer, and a producer.

Subramanian believes, 'Music is a powerful tool to harmonize man with himself and with is global environment.' His love and respect for humanity and individual freedom urges him to explore new ways to realize this. He has lived abroad for a decade, learning, teaching and performing music. Since 1989, his focus turned towards bridging the gap between the 'gurukula' and the 'institution' in music education. He attempts to revitalize music from a new perspective. Brhaddhvani now offers this vision to the World music community.

The Search

The critical mind of Dr.Subramanian started from very early. The weight of tradition as the ninth generation vina artiste but without 'proper' supportive elements from within the family and society at large was too much for him to carry along. This made him search for a new meaning for tradition. He began journeying within himself and around the globe with education in chemistry and English literature with a natural inclination for abstraction and philosophy. He discovered the value of institutional learning, the value of a critical and just mind, the values in evaluating tradition from a comparative perspective.

Dr.Subramanian's research extended to Ethnomusicology for his PhD. in Wesleyan University (1975-85) where he rediscovered his own tradition from a global perspective. His research in vina styles taught him to look closer to details with an eye on the wholeness. He began feeling that there should be a better way of dealing with tradition, not as a compelled or deliberate acquisition, but as a worthwhile search to discover one's identity in whatever context one is likely to be.

Dr.Subramnian's performing and teaching experience in music extends from traditional to the most innovative and experimental. With this, he came to India in 1986 and joined the faculty of music at the University of Madras. His research into institutional learning in India with respect to music made him once again adventure into new realms in music education with the right admixture of the 'gurukula' and the 'institution'. He has come up with an answer - Brhaddhvani, Research and Training Centre for Musics of the World.



Karaikudi S. Subramanian
New No. 7-E (Old No. 4) VI Main Road, R. A. Puram, Chennai-600 028. India
Tel # 91 - 44 - 2434 3971

Office address             

Professor,(Retd) Department of Indian Music University of Madras, Madras - 600 005. &
Founder & Hon. Director, Brhaddhvani, Research and
Training Centre For the Musics of the World, (An 80-G
tax exempted non-profit organization) 28/41, IV Main Road, R.A.Puram, Chennai-600028,

Tel   : 91 - 44 - 24329878 / 42081813. 
Mob: 098406-41726
Email :

Date of birth    

October 23, 1944

Place of birth  

Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.

Fields of Specialization            

Performance (South Indian Vina)

Music Education

Ethnomusicology (South Asian music)


Ninth generation Vina player Grand nephew and adopted son of the celebrated vina player, Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer.


Ph.D [Ethnomusicology] Wesleyan university 1985

M A [Music], Wesleyan University 1977

M A [English], Madurai Kamarajar University 1969

B Sc [Chemistry], Madura Collage University of Madras 1963

Positions held                        :          


Professor, Department of Indian Music, University of Madras (1986-)
Assistant Professor of Music, Sri Sathguru Sangeetha Samajam, College of Music, Madurai [1980-81]

Lecturer in English,Vivekananda College, Madras, University of Madras [1972-75]

Tutor in English,Vivekananda College, Madras, University of Madras [1970-72]

Lecturer in English, Madura College, Madurai [1969-70]      

Demonstrator in Chemistry, Madura Collage Madurai 1965-67


Visiting Professor, Amherst College        Oct.1999

Valentine Professor of Music, Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA [Spring 1991]

Visiting Artiste, York University,Toronto,Canda   [1984 & 92]

Visiting Artiste, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society [1981-83]

Visiting Artiste,  National University of     Singapore [1983]                                                            


Teaching Fellowship towards the doctoral            degree in Ethnomusicology, Wesleyann University USA. [1975-79]                                                           

Asian Cultural Council Fellowship towards
completion of Ph. D. [1984-85]

Copeland Fellowship to work on the Teaching methodology from Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA [1986]    


PREIS DER DEUTSCHEN SCHALLPLATTEN       KRITIK award for the MUSIC FUR VINA album released by Museum Fur Volkerkunde, Berlin, Germany. [1980]        

Suryakanthamma Memorial Award best demonstration and paper presentation, From Tamil folk to classical in the South IndianMusical Tradition, at the annual conference of
the Music Academy, Madras. [May 1991]

NAIRD award for SUNADA compact disc on Music of the World by the NAIRD BOARD of Trustees, Chicago. [May 1994]

Musical Training in Vina  

Lakshmi Ammal (Mother) 1950-56

Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer 1957-58    

Rajeswari Padmanabhan &                     Ranganayaki Rajagopalan (repertoire) 1959-6

Traditional area               

Residency towards a diploma in music 1957-61
Kalakshetra, Madras

Song Repertoire            

Ramanathapuram Sankarasivam

Pattamadai Krishnan

Dr.T Viswanathan

Cross-cultural area               

Piano from John Barlow (U.S.A)

Koto Namino Torii (Japan

Gamelan from Sumarsam (Indonesia)

The music of the Navajos from David Mc. Allester (U.S.A)

Western music theory from Richard Winslow (U.S.A)

Theory of Ethnomusicology from Mark Slobin (U.S.A)

Doctoral guidance           

Jon Barlow, Jon Higgins,  & T. Viswanathan


An ‘A’ grade Vina performer in All India Radio,                                                          

Madras.  Has been performing since 1967.


Since 1975 performing widely in India Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, Canada and USA with top ranking artistes, in Universities, museums, private organizations, conferences, in Radio and Television. Performed a special fund  raising concert in Bloomfield, Connecticut to help the survivors of the cyclone that hit the coastal Andhra Pradesh. (1977)


Have performed experimental concert with Prof. David Reck (New Music Composer,U.S.A) (1978), George Mathew (Organ and Carillon Player, U.S.A. 1979), Hans Peter (from Switzerland, Piano1986) and Handel Manuel (from India, Piano,1987). 

Publications (Books)            :          

Editor ‘Rishabham’, the second in the series of music books published by Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, Singapore. (1982)

Compositions of Anai-Ayya Brothers - Published by Brhaddhvani, Madras. (1990)

Manodharma Sangeetham of Dr. Sreepada     Pinakapani, published by Brhaddhvani. (1992)

Author Gandharam, the third in the above mentioned series (Carnatic music theory and notated songs) (1984)

South Indian Vina-tradition and Individual style, the doctoral dissertation, in three volumes ( 712 pages) submitted to Wesleyan University. Published by Micro-films University, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. (1986)

An Autobiography of Dr. Semmangudi Sreenivasa
Iyer was commissioned by Dr. Kalignar M. Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The work is now completed and in the process of publication by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
"Experiments in Music Education" a book based on
the experimental research at Brhaddhvani is being


The Vina (On the historical and technical aspects of the Vina) published in Asian Music Journal, New York. (Spring/ Summer1985)

Sino Indian Musi-cultural Symbolism published in the Journal of TraditionalCultures, University of Madras. (1990)

Inter-relationships among Text, Tune and Tone in carnatic music, appeared as one of the articles in Text, Tone and Tune, parameters of music in a multi- cultural perspective a publication by the American      Institue of Indian Studies, Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology and Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, 1993.(pp 159-175).Editor: Bonnie C. Wade.


Reviews of concerts and books in English and Tamil journals (STRAITS TIMES, Singapore, Tamil Murasu, Singapore, Sruti, Madras).


MUSIC FÜR VINA, a two record album of Vina
music produced by Museum Fur Volkerkunde,
Berlin, Germany. (1980)                                                            
Vina music for Laya Vinyas produced by Prof.Trichy Sankaran for Music of the world series
of compact disc Digital Audio, New York. (1990)

Sunada, music from the Classical tradition of South India, produced by Bob Haddad accompanied by prof. Trichy Sankaran on the mrdangam and kanjira for Music of the World in Compact disc. (1992)


A dramatization on the origins of Indian music     followed by orchestral and solo music for the Arts Festival, Sinagpore, sponsored by the  Government of Singapore (1983

Research, Script, and Editing for NADANGI, a    thirteen week  television serial   (1987) on music and Musical instruments of South India, featuring top performers. Research, script writing, production and editing guidance. Produced by Soori Murali for Citadel Videos and sponsored by Dabur and Western

From Folk to Classical music, a performance   relating to folk and classical music of South India sponsored by Brhaddhvani & Max Mueller Bhavan, Madras. (1990)

Vina Vadhana - festival of Vina. Eleven styles of Vina performance were represented in the Festival of Vina players.  Produced for Ambalam & Brhaddhvani. (April1993)

A week long Festival: "Rejuvenation of vina as an accompaniment to voice"(Dec.1998)


NIRNAYA, a composition written for Piano and Vina performed at Amherst College, Amherst, U S A. (1986)

Has composed tunes for the songs of Bharathiyar, the patriot poet of Tamilnadu.

Has set music for a theatre production, Imagery, a joint production of  Koothu-p-pattarai, Madras, and Kalakshetra Manipur. (Aug. 1995)

Paper presentations         

Have presented papers in conferences and seminars:
Karaikudi style of Vina playing - presented at the Music Academy, Madras (1986)

Text, Tone and Tune - presented at the seminar in New Delhi, American Institue of Indian Studies.  (1986)

From Folk to Classical Music in South India, a paper presentation at the annual conference, The Music Academy, Madras. (1991)


Numerous lecture-demonstrations in the Universities, museums, schools and colleges in several countries on Indian music. (Since 1975)


Consultant for the National Council for Educational Research and Training, New Delhi, a Government body. (Since 1987)

Research guidance     

Have produced six successful students in Indian music for a pre-doctoral degree, M. Phil. Guide to four doctoral students. (1986-91)

Examinership & Membership in Commitees

Examiner for Oriental Title in Music, Bharathidasan University. (1986)

Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi - Carnatic music instrumental. (1987)

Chairman, Sangita Siromani Examinations         University of Madras. (1988-90)

Member of the Music Talent Search Committees constituted by Bharathidasan University.  (since 1987)

Chairman, Board of Studies for M.A. in Music Mother Teresa Women’s University, Madras.
(1992- 95)

Representative from University of Madras for the Committee for change of syallabus for music, the Training Centre for Music, Government of Tamil nadu. (1993)

Workshops, Seminars [National]        

Several workshops on the foundation in carnatic music towards evolving a learning technique in vocal through Vina.     (1990-91)
Workshop on European harmony for students and lovers of Carnatic music, sponsored by Brhaddhvani and the Max Mueller Bhavan and jointly presented with Prof. David Reck.   (Nov.1991)

Seminar: Voice Culture for Carnatic musicians
sponsored by Brhaddhvani & Sangeetha Research Academy of Calcutta. (Sep. 1992)

Workshops for school teachers on teaching       methodology sponsored by Madras Craft Foundation.

Seminar: Folk music and literature of Tamilnadu sponsored by the University Grants Commission and presented for the Department of music, University of Madras. (Mar. 1993)

Conducted seminar on Rhythm and voice, East-West perspectives. Members from Canada, USA and Finland participated.

International (U.S.A)         

An invited participant in the Workshop on New   Directions in the Collection, Preservation and Dissemination of Music and Dance (June 29 & 30, July 1,2 & 3 1993), conducted by Smithsonian Institution, Center for Folklife Programs & Cultural Studies, Washington D.C. where representatives from nearly 10 different nations participated.

Societal Contribution

Founded Brhaddhvani, Research and Training Centre for Musics of the World, Chennai [1989] a tax exempted non-profit organization, along with Dr. Seetha formerly Professor and Head of the Department of Indian Music, University of Madras.

Professional Membership

Founding member of A.R.C (Archives Resource Community), a net work of archives from all over India.

Important Projects Completed till 2005

1. Exchange programs with Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland. (1996-2001)

2. Documented Sopanam Music of Kerala (2000-2001)

3. Invited by Phonogram Archive, Berlin to attend a conference in September 2000 in commemoration of their 100th anniversary celebrations. Published an article "Continuity and Change in Musical Transmission in Contemporary South India: A case study of Brhaddhvani" in the book "Music Archiving in the World" edited by Gariele Berlin and Artur Simon (2003ISBN 3-86135-681-3)

4. Edited a book on the autobiography of the celebrated vocal musician Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer. Yet to be published.

On going Projects

Leading Brhaddhvani. Projects undertaken: Children's music education, training of teachers, Preparation of educational tools for training purposes, reaching out to poor village children in primary and middle school levels using music for education.

From 1989 the individual accomplishments gradually began merging with the growth of Brhaddhvani as a Research and Training Centre for Music where experiments in the field of music eduction were carried on, with the help of batches of graduate and post graduate students. Now it is recognized by the students, musicians and educationists all over the world.
















































































































































































































































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Brhaddhvani, 55, 3rd street, East Abhiramapuram, Chennai - 600018, INDIA
Tel 91-44-4208-1813 | Fax 91-44-2432-9878 | E-mail

BRHADDHVANI is a non-profit registered organization with 80G tax exemption.
Your generous support and patronage to us qualifies for exemption from income-tax.











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