Music Forum


Karaikudi S. Subramanian:

Preamble to Music Forum:


In Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ the stoic character, Malvalio states:   “In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatnesssome are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them“. – (Act II, Scene V)

 A beautiful analysis of greatness! Yes, some people are afraid of greatness. Malvalio’s words are balm to such people. 

Something bizarrely different attracts attention, becomes instantly news worthy. It becomes ‘talk-of-the-town’, talk of the country, talk of the whole world. But to grow beautifully original is what is really different and noteworthy. Identifying this originality in one self early is a great beginning for the growth of greatness which you do not need others to recognise. You are becoming one.  In pursuing a field of interest, passion, what exclusively belongs to you, arts or science, requires inner strength and conviction. There are many such greats in music who are little talked about and recognised. I had great experience in Kalakshetra in the late 1950-s in meeting the real greats in music and dance who were simple and beautiful. 

The musicians in those times, when I reflect now, were such simple individuals inspiring me by their instant beauty of appeal, the greatness writ upon them in every gesture of theirs. Sri Mysore Vasudevacharya, Boodalur Krishnamurthy Sastrigal, Gauri Amma,  Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma, and some others are in the list.

When I was studying English literature I had a penchant for translation of Tamil into English. A few old journals and books I tried to translate, but never continued. I wish to do it at least now. I am taking this internet media opportunities to offer you some.

Very early in my life when I read the generous tributes of the greats in music on the mrdangam player, Sivavadivel Pillai, whom I had not heard about much then, I was fascinated.  I began to translate but never completed. I re-discovered the little booklet of tributes to this great mrdangam player in the library. I began translating once again. I start the postings for this Music Forum with these translations under the heading: “Foot prints on the Sands of Time”

It is customary to praise sky-high some one who is no more! Very few of us are capable of honesty, integrity in recognising the merits of our fellow musicians. Sometimes the foibles of a musician deter us from true musical evaluation. Even if we do we do lip service while they are alive. After the artiste is no more, some of us may seek ‘noticeability’ ‘popularity’ by talking about them. Genuineness in recognising the merits of the artistes, feeling gratitude to what we learnt from our fellow musicians, acknowledging what we specially learned from them in our journey through music are virtues we need to cultivate.  

I learnt to recognise the value in what others think about others from three vital aspects. 1. About the person talked about. 2. The truthful portrayals among those who talk about the real merits in the other.  3. The revelations about  the person who talks about the other. For these reasons I attempt to translate the tributes to the mrdangam player Sri Sivavadivel Pillai by eminent artistes of his time associated with him. 

Hopefully we will present other very valuable materials for students, scholars, researchers, performers, and music educators… such as, 1. Biographies, translations of articles, poems, from other languages from published old books. 2. Views on problems and solutions in learning, teaching, and the practice of music 3. Thoughts on the connectivity of music in different disciplines and in life as a whole? 4. Listening experience in music 5. Valuable commentaries on attitudes and trends in music of contemporary relevance 6.. Unique ways of learning you have experienced as a student from your gurus 7. On the topic of  ‘technology and music’, its relevance in the contemporary context 8. Experiments in music and musical instruments. 9. Discoveries in music as you have genuinely experienced (..but it might have been already discovered and you may not know till some one tells you, it exists else where with proof)  10. Answers and suggestions to students of music for questions asked by the reader (It is left to the readers themselves. No one will sit as authority on the topic to answer questions asked)

You may contribute materials, your views on any of the above topics (or any other relevant topics you might have)  to post here. Number of words per post should be between 100- 150 words. We reserve the rights to publish. Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian will use this forum to present materials for the benefit of the world music community.

Posts should be sent by email to Please state: “Music Forum” as the subject of your email. Give one of the topics from the list or any other topic pertinent to music and education as the heading for your email.

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