Carnatic Nomad by Jyotsna Srikanth
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Carnatic Nomad by Jyotsna Srikanth

Ilford, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Ilford, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band World Classical




"Violinist makes her instrument sing"

Here in the west, if someone is described as making their instrument sing, it's high praise. In the Carnatic tradition of the southern Indian states, Srikanth, whose violin recitals during the Edinburgh Fringe in August won exactly this kind of approval, would merely be doing her job.

"Everything in Carnatic music comes from the voice," she says during a break from the international music festival in London that she organises herself every year. "We don't have separate music for different instruments the way western music has piano or cello or trumpet concertos, for example. Everything is written for the voice and it's up to the instrumentalist to learn how to phrase and pitch this music the way a singer would do it. It's quite a commitment. There are no short cuts."

Srikanth began her own music training as a singer at the age of five in Bangalore. Her mother, a singer and teacher, put her through a tough programme every day, making sure that Jyotsna practised for six hours. It wasn't long into this regime, however, that the young student became sidetracked by the violin. As part of her education, her mother took her to concerts at every opportunity and at one of these the five year old heard the virtuoso violinist Kunnakudi Vaiyanathan and was, she remembers, amazed by the sound he made.

"I went home and grabbed two broomsticks and started scraping them together," she says.

"My mother thought I'd gone mad but I was desperate to try and make the sound I'd heard at that concert. So after quite a lot of pleading and carrying on with my improvised bow and string, she got me a violin on the understanding that I would work as hard at this instrument as I had as a singer."

There was an element of bribery involved in this violin practice. In school term time, Jyotsna put in an hour every day, working on the exercises given to her by her teacher, R R Keshavamurthy, a well-respected violinist in Indian music circles. But during school holidays, her mother, who was determined that Jyostna was going to be a child prodigy, used the aromas from the bakery next door to make sure she put in extra hours.

"By about four in the afternoon, there would be these great smells wafting into our house, so I'd get promised a bun or something else tempting like that if I worked on whatever it was I was concentrating at the time," she says.

This worked: she made her concert debut at the age of nine and then in her mid-teens, after seeing one of the violin masters who played music for films using western classical fingering, she started her training in these techniques at Bangalore School of Music, going on to gain her grades from the Royal School of Music in London. She might have gone on to become a full-time musician earlier - by now she was playing concerts most weekends and working in film music - but for her medical studies restricting her travelling for concerts. She worked as a pathologist, playing music in her spare time, until 2004 when, by now the mother of two children, she and her husband moved to London.

"Most people in India work two jobs so I worked in medicine and music in Bangalore but when we came to London I was able to concentrate on music," she says. "I love experimenting and I listen to a wide variety of music - Balkan, Chinese, flamenco, fado, all sorts - and I particularly like jazz violin. Stephane Grappelli is a great favourite because he used his technique to bring out the singing quality in his playing, and I love the way Nigel Kennedy can play classical music and yet be so creative with jazz too."

On her return to Scotland, which sees her playing two concerts - one in Glasgow, one in Aberdeen - on the same day, she and her musicians will play traditional Carnatic music in the afternoon and something more experimental in the evening.

"I like to appeal to as wide an audience as possible," she says, "and we're used to travelling to play our music. So it's no problem to play in one style and then jump in the car or onto a train and stretch out a bit musically at the end of the journey. My group Bangalore Dreams, although it uses Indian percussion instruments, leans towards jazz and can be quite adventurous but it still has the music I grew up with at its heart."

Jyotsna Srikanth plays University of Glasgow Concert Hall at 1.10pm and the Blue Lamp, Aberdeen at 8pm tomorrow. - Herald Scotland

"Jyotsna Srikanth: Call of Bangalore – review"

Brought up in Bangalore, southern India, but based for many years in London, Jyotsna Srikanth is an extraordinary and versatile violinist. She started out as an Indian classical musician, but became known for her jazz-fusion work and experiments in mixing western and Indian classical styles, as well as her appearances on Bollywood soundtracks. Three years ago she made a remarkable appearance at the Darbar festival, headlining at short notice after the singers she was meant to support had visa trouble. On that occasion she was backed solely by two percussionists, and that's the bravely sparse lineup here, on a set of compositions from southern India that demonstrate her free-flowing, often mesmerising style. There are gently drifting passages, flurries of rapid-fire playing as she playfully improvises around different themes, and bursts of exhilarating interplay with her percussionists on the virtuoso 40-minute workout Brovabarama. - The Guardian

"Carnatic Nomad"

Jyotsna Srikanth is a South Indian Carnatic violinist. Her show is made up of a selection of compositions, ranging from classical to contemporary to folk. Together with a mridangam drummer, she leads us through a magnificent part-improvised performance that beautifully showcases the music and culture of her native Bangalore.

The violin is just one traditionally Western instrument to have been adopted and adapted by Indian music. Other notable examples include the saxophone and guitar. Srikanth explained to us how the carnatic violin is tuned differently to its Western counterparts, but perhaps the most striking difference is in how it is held and played. Srikanth told us that most of the Carnatic violin’s repertoire is made up of transposed vocal music. With the violin nestled under her chin, the scroll resting on her ankle, it did seem as though the full, rich sound was coming from her diaphragm and the violin was an extension of an inner state of mind. Similarly, Srikanth’s accompanying drummer held his mridangam drum cradled in his lap and both performers sat cross-legged on the stage floor.
‘These are often used in meditation sessions,’ our host mentioned, indicating the small machine which was providing the drone accompaniment for all of the ragas. The music certainly took on a very meditative tone as the two musicians worked their way through typical structures of an alap (a non-rhythmic improvised introduction, something like a prelude), followed by the main body of the composition and concluded with more improvised collaboration, winding and swelling through an unfailingly mesmerising programme of music.

Whilst many of the compositions draw heavily on traditional Carnatic folk music, Srikanth described a more contemporary piece as influenced by Western classical forms. As her playing twisted through phrases built around arpeggios, one could hear hints of Vivaldi and even Vaughan Williams ringing out in the tune. One reason Carnatic violinists hold their instruments differently because it makes it easier to achieve the glissando effect added to near enough every note. This reluctance to dwell too long on one note at a time adds a heady quality to the pieces and detracts our attention from a fixed melodic line that we often seek out and rely on in Western music.
A great deal of the ragas’ appeal is in their exoticism, but Srikanth took care to ensure we understood what we were hearing, through its composition, context and structure throughout. ‘No matter who the god, the worship is the same, the belief is the same,’ she said to introduce her final piece, explaining the composer’s inspiration for it. This statement encapsulates why this musician deserves every penny of the Arts Council funding she has been awarded. In this instance, regardless of the genre, the instrument is the same. It is clear from Jyotsna Srikanth’s calm, elegant stage presence and wisdom that she loves what she does. No matter what the culture, the passion is the same. - Broadway Baby, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

"Women Of The World"

amazing Jyotsna Srikanth & Interlaced, Ms. Srikanth's super-exciting Indo-Jazz band. The versatile Jyotsna Srikanth is a Carnatic violinist of the highest standing who doesn't shirk from trying her hand at anything - from the South Indian or Carnatic classical music to Jazz Fusion and beyond. She is also an accomplished Western classical musician and is writing a double violin concerto featuring contemporary violin music for both the Indian and Western tradition. Dr. Srikanth (she is also a medical doctor in clinical pathology, but the pull of music proved stronger) has also collaborated in classical guitarist Simon Thacker's Nava Rasa Ensemble and is currently also one of the two real stars, the other being Thacker himself, of his current Svara-Kanti project.

However, Interlaced is her Indo-Jazz project that we are concerned with here and that is perhaps Ms. Srikanth's leading project. In this, she is joined by well known Celtic folk fiddler and jazz violinist Chris Haigh, one of the most innovative players from this scene, and Freddie on guitar, Victor Obsust on double bass, and Nishanth Rajakumar on percussion. Together, they form a very tight band with superb empathy among the players, and both ensemble playing and soloing were nothing short of breathtakingly spectacular.

Even if the electronic percussion might have been less than the perfect choice, Rajakumar handled it superbly and the choice, one suspects, might have been dictated by circumstances, not the least perhaps being that he had to provide the percussion for the other two live acts as well.

This was Indo-Jazz of the highest order, always innovative, intuitive, and exciting to the extent that it not merely had one on the edge of one's seat but constantly at

risk of dropping off it! The interplay especially between Ms. Srikanth and Haigh was pure joy and often almost duel-like. Ms. Srikanth proved never less than inventive, imaginative and as inspired as she was inspiring, with Haigh following in the same vein. Jyotsna Srikanth & Interlaced often swung exquisitely, and sometimes exquisitely hard. Especially so in the final piece, which sometimes veered between 'Hot Club' swing and a bluegrassy feel to superb effect.

A sheer delight that was as fresh as it was refreshing and exiting, one could have listened to Jyotsna Srikanth & Interlaced all night and wished this magnificent set did not have to end. I want to hear a whole lot more of this incredible band and their superb organic fusion in London's jazz venues, and the sooner the better!
- RichMix, London

"Darbar festival Kings Place, London"

"led by the UK-based violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, and two players of the barrel-like mridangam hand-drums. They provided a remarkable, improvised instrumental set, with the unassuming Srikanth switching between rapid-fire violin ragas and slower, delicate pieces, and some impressive, unrehearsed interplay between the percussionists, one of whom had only been in Britain for a few hours and deserved her standing ovation." - Guardian, UK

"Catch the best of two genres"

BANGALORE, December 29, 2011

Catch the best of two genres
Staff Reporter

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A charity concert where Carnatic jazz will meet world fusion will be held on January 7 at Ravindra Kalakshetra here.

The concert will feature Carnatic vocalist M. Balamuralikrishna, and Indian classical and world fusion violinist Jyotsna Srikanth.

While Mr. Balamuralikrishna has been hitting all the right notes for the last seven decades, Ms. Srikanth, a British-Indian violinist/composer has been actively collaborating and experimenting with different genres of music. She has performed at major global music events such as WOMAD and the Red Violin Festival. She has also performed in the House of Commons, in the presence of British Prime Minister David Cameron. The duo will be accompanied by Shadrach Solomon on keyboards, Alwyn Fernandes on lead guitar, Keith Peters on bass guitar, Karthik Mani on special percussion, Bernhard Schimpelsberger (Taalis-U.K.) on drums and N. Amruth on Indian percussion.

The concert will begin at 6.30 p.m. Donor passes are priced at Rs. 5,000, Rs.3,000, Rs.2,000, Rs 1,000 and Rs. 500.

Call 9980020658/ 99809 09853 or visit /
- The Hindu

"Ragas with a touch of hip hop, Chennai"

They had even the most conservative of rasikas head-banging to some techno beats. Quasi-rock stars in silk kurtas played brilliant guitar chords to carnatic ragas. Fusion Dreams, led by Dr Jyotsna Srikanth from London, provided the perfect finish to the Bharat Sangeet Utsav 2011.
Performing at the Narada Gana Sabha, Jyotsna and her team of musicians did a splendid job of juxtaposing world music with carnatic ragas.
From the time they took stage, just like their opening number Sprint, the group of experienced musicians raced through the evening, maintaining enthusiasm throughout. Their Kalyani Mix, which, like the name suggests, is adapted from the Kalyani raga, placidly sliced through the quiet in the auditorium, with serene tones. With the violin in the foreground, the drums and keys provided effective background support.
The highpoint of the evening was the Irish Folk Dance, where Jyotsna almost reproduced the sounds of Irish pipes with her violin. Throughout the peppy piece, (in the Karnaranjani raga) one was reminded of a green leprechaun. The way the raga was woven in, through some very western beats, had the music lovers sit up and pay attention.
Fusion Dreams could also be called the most progressive concert of the music festival, with the members on stage using Mac laptops to read the notes and an elecro-acoustic violin for company. The band also used Ableton Live, a music sequencer technology, on stage for their piece based on the Pantuvarali raga. The mridangam coerced through the frisky techno beats and remixed jathis in this piece, as well.
The essence of the Sallapam raga was captured beautifully through Haunting Thoughts, which was probably the most intense number of the evening. The violin went places, with several twists and turns, taking the audience with it.
With Canter, the galloping of the horse was stimulated to near perfection by Jyotsna with her dexterity on the violin, accompanied by insipid neighs and clever beatboxing from Solomon, who also shone on the keyboard.
A must mention is Hip Hop, that for once during the concert, moved the focus away from the violin and on to the guitar duo and the drums. It might not have passed off for a Soulja Boy song, but could definitely have been confused with an Eminem number at a night club!


"BBC Proms 16/17 - World Routes, Royal Albert Hall"

"and the amazing Jyotsna Srikanth "

Pascal Dusapin’s ‘String Quartet No 6’ is scored for the unusual combination of string quartet plus orchestra, and has two subtitles: ‘Hinterland’, and ‘Hapax’ (ancient Greek for ‘once’).

Its UK premiere came supported by programme-notes which threw around buzz-words like ‘conflict’, ‘ambiguities’, ‘circuitous paths’, and ‘jumps in logic’. Dusapin’s own self-encomium talked of ‘allusions’, ‘parables’, and ‘a setting where musical worlds, themselves disturbed, composite, and complex, can pour forth their feelings’. His piece had a lot to live up to.

It began quite engagingly, with orchestra and quartet taking it in turns to deliver chugging rhythms and squeaky descants: the effect was redolent of both Ligeti and Stravinsky. After ten minutes, one realised that the whole thing was based on one single chord (hapax?), albeit the fecund one which underpins the earth-dance in Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’. The Arditti Quartet - plus the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Thierry Fischer – laboured mightily to realise Dusapin’s flickering visions, and the whole thing was undeniably easy on the ear, but there was a striking absence of the qualities promised on the packet. By following directly afterwards, Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ – which possesses those qualities in abundance – cruelly rammed home the point.

A late Prom by the World Routes Academy was devoted to the Carnatic music of South India, and starred the singer Aruna Sairam, Hari Sivanesan on the veena lute, and the amazing Jyotsna Srikanth on the violin. Aruna’s contralto timbre had a steely edge, and Hari’s instrumental style was fluent and expressive, but one wondered how much more expressive it would have been had the amplification not been so crude. As Jonathan Katz’s programme-note observed, in Carnatic music the voice (and text) underpins everything the instruments do, and the ragas performed had an earthy eloquence.

As an experiment, I decided to listen to the last fifteen minutes in my car going home, and the contrast was shocking. There was no amplificatory blur: Aruna’s voice was full of nuance and colour, and her sotto voce moments were bewitching; the meld between her sound and that of the instruments was delicately balanced. In other words - and as with all Proms involving pianos - those who listened at home (for free) got an infinitely better deal than the poor bloody infantry at the Albert Hall. Food for thought.
- Independent

"Music from around the world"

Music from around the world


Fusion concert

Fusion Dreams, a fusion music concert which has been organised by Sparsh Vachana, is to be held on January 7 at Ravindra Kalakshetra, J C Road.

The concert will feature well-known fusion-musician Dr Jyotsna Srikanth as well as Indian classical musician Balamuralikrishna.

They will be accompanied by artistes from both India as well as Europe — Shadrach Solomon on keyboards, Keith Peters on bass guitar, Tony Das on lead guitar, N Amruth on Indian percussion, Bernhard Schimpelsberger, or Taalis on drums and Karthik Mani on world percussion.

The concert will focus on fusing different kinds of music and blending them to create an altogether new style.

Dr Jyotsna Srikanth, who is well-versed in this art of blending music, said, “I have been performing for the last eight years, and I normally couple Indian music with jazz, pop, folk, African and even Irish folk.”

When approached by representatives of the Sparsh Foundation about the ‘Fusion Dreams’ concert, she said that she had thought of doing a collaboration.

“I thought, why not do a collaboration? Initially, I was thinking of western jazz musicians but then I thought of Balamuralikrishna. When I asked him, he readily agreed,” she explained.

A lot of thought and rehearsal has gone into this concert.

“I’ve planned something different, and there will be lots of surprises. Balamuralikrishna has been very diligent, nice and cooperative. Initially, I was sceptical because he’s deeply rooted in Indian classical music. But we had a rehearsal last week in Chennai, and it went well,” said Dr Jyotsna. She added that the international band-members who are part of the concert add to the experience by injecting their own style of music and performing.

“We have a drummer from the UK, who is of Australian origin, and he’s very good. So we expect to have a good flavour of European drumming in our performance, which will make it a little different,” explained Dr Jyotsna.

The concert is being held to raise awareness about a particular initiative of Sparsh Vachana, which revolves around providing free treatment to children suffering from musco-skeletal abnormalities. Dr Chandrasekar, who has been involved with this venture, said that he has listened to some of the pieces that are to be played in the concert, and had been impressed. He added that the hospital hoped to spread awareness about their cause through this concert.

For details, contact Dr Chandrasekar on 9980909853. Tickets can be purchased from Sparsh Hospital, Hosur Road and Infantry Road, or at the venue
- Deccan Herald, India

"Review in Guardian, UK"

UK-based violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, and two players of the barrel-like mridangam hand-drums provided a remarkable, improvised instrumental set, with the unassuming Srikanth switching between rapid-fire violin ragas and slower, delicate pieces, and some impressive, unrehearsed interplay between the percussionists, one of whom had only been in Britain for a few hours and deserved her standing ovation.' Guardian on Jyotsna Srikanth - Guardian, UK


Still working on that hot first release.



I love performing Indian classical & Indian contemporary. Having performed and composed music for more than a decade I love the audience sentiments. My music is both eclectic and soothing,

Music genre - World & Indian

RN Prakash Mridangam (two sided drum)
RR Prathap Ghatam (clay pot)

Jyotsna says:
I am looking beyond my roots for inspiration. My music is served with a blend of virtuosity and creativity culminating in a celebration of the harmony of spirit and mind. I am exploring the world of music with modern consciousness and traditional aesthetics. My work is an amalgamation of exciting instrumentation and expressions from South India."

Europe's leading violinist from the south Indian Carnatic classical tradition, Jyotsna Srikanth is also an accomplished western classical musician who has collaborated with acclaimed jazz, film, western classical and contemporary music artists.
Jyotsna has established her place as the top ranking musician of the West and the East. She has collaborated and brought about a real technical fusion as some of the media have mentioned.

Jyotsna is known for her versatility and ability to collaborate with different genres seamlessly and with ease. She is intensely rooted in south Indian classical carnatic music alongside having formal western classical music education. Adding on to this, she has flourished as a performer and composer, exploring lush ground in the crossover between Indian music and a variety of contemporary flavours. Her violin playing has a nice blend of 'bhava' [musical expression and emotion] & fingering technique, a result of three decades of experimentation as per a critic.

Based in London, Jyotsna has established her brand in UK, Europe and also in India where she originally hails from. Performing in the following genres, in many venues across UK, Europe and India, it has opened up many new vistas:
Indo-Jazz Fusion
Indian Classical / World music

Featured in top UK, India and Europes music festivals and events like BBC Proms, Womad, South Bank Centre, [QE Hall and Purcell Room] she has developed quality audience from across many genres.

Having audio releases of over 14 albums containing 85+ tracks across the above genres [+ childrens music and spiritual and trance genres], she needs more support from statutory institution, she feels.

Website: Www.IndianViolin.Eu has more information.

Some press quotes:

   ***** 5 stars Broadway Baby, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

'..Jyotsna Srikanth is an extraordinary and versatile violinist... free-flowing, often mesmerising' 4****stars The Guardian, July 2013

'..full of delicate ornamentation' 4****stars, The Evening Standard

..Britains finest violinist of Indian classical music Time Out

..An immense musical talent and intelligence Deccan Chronicle

..Arguably the only name that springs to music collaborators while seeking artistes across the Indian classical, jazz and world  music Indian Express

"...the amazing Jyotsna Srikanth on violin. " Independent, BBC Proms Concert


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