For the love of Carnatic music

For someone who understands its intricacies, Carnatic music may appeal at an intellectual level — they may marvel at an artist’s expansive manodharma, recognise a rare sangathi when they hear one, appreciate a percussionist’s laya prowess, and so on. To others, it may appeal emotionally — they may not be able to identify ragas or understand the lyrics, yet it may tug at their heart strings, provide solace, and so on. But when the impact is so profound that it makes the listeners — non-Indians at that — travel half way across the world to Chennai in pursuit of the art, you know that it has gone beyond mere emotional or intellectual appeal. Carnatic music has transformed their lives.

This article presents the stories of two extraordinary gentlemen — British rasika and music student Nick Haynes, who has made Chennai his home, and Malaysian–Chinese vocalist Chong Chiu Sen, a disciple of the doyen Smt. D.K. Pattammal.

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