Chitravina N Narasimhan

Son of legendary musician, Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar, Sri. Narasimhan is one of the greatest revolutionary thinkers of Carnatic music. His unique ideals, vision and methods have changed Carnatic music pedagogy, and have contributed significantly towards lowering the average age of performing musicians. A brilliant musician and performer himself, Narasimhan imbibed a vast amount of music from his father, who adorned the courts of Tiruvanantapuram and Mysore. Narasimhan is one of those select few musicians who has constantly worked on amassing a huge wealth of knowledge, both practical and theoretical, by learning from and interacting with other great musicians of his times, and reading every available book on Carnatic music. This has given his considerable natural gifts an extraordinary level of depth and solidity, and puts him in a league of his own.

 

He was born in Sholingur in 1941 to Jayalakshmi and Narayana Iyengar in a culturally rich environment. By age 10, he was already an accomplished vocalist, who often traveled to other towns and cities to sing while his father played the Gotuvadyam. Sometime in his teens, the young Narasimhan took to the Chitravina and became the true heir to the dazzlingly brilliant and flamboyant style of his father's music. The demise of his father in 1959 further took Narasimhan on a musical path and he traveled all over the country, winning accolades from great national leaders, fine connoisseurs of music and the lay person. He also won the respect and admiration of the senior musicians of his times such as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer, G N Balasubramaniam, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Musiri Subramanya Iyer, T Brinda, Budalur Krishnamurthy Shastri, Flute Mali, Dr. Balamuralikrishna, Veena S Balachander and many others, while his interactions with them also enriched his own musical perception. National leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Dr. Radhakrishnan spontaneously recognised Narasimhan's unique talent and honored him with repeat invitations. Baba Allauddin Khan, guru of Pandit Ravi Shankar, heard him live in his

Young Narasimhan being honored by the former Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri

hometown and was moved to writing him a certificate of merit, while the All India Radio expempted him from audition and granted him direct grading.

 

Narasimhan also popularised Narayana Iyengar's wonderful advancements on the ancient Chitravina including the string arrangement, tuning methods and playing techniques. He has composed several ragam-tanam-pallavi-s in intricate talas and evolved intricate melodic-rhythmic techniques that have often stunned his intellectual contemporaries.

  

Narasimhan is one of those rare breed of musicians who is self-effacing and has his focus only in the pursuit of his passion. He has turned down several awards, honors and teaching positions in top-class institutions. Yet many awards and titles have been conferred on him such as Gotuvadya Kalanidhi, Gotuvadya Praveena, Hanumad Gana Shiromani, Acharya Ratnakara (from Aradhana Committee, Cleveland, USA) and Acharya Pitamaha (San Diego, USA).