N. Ravikiran

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Chitravina N. Ravikiran (born 12 February 1967) Mysore, Karnataka, India, is one of the most celebrated prodigies [1] and musicians. A slide instrumentalist, vocalist from age 5,[2] composer,[3] guru, author[4][5] & orator, he is also the creator of the concept Melharmony[6] in world music. Son and disciple of revolutionary "prodigy-maker" Chitravina Narasimhan,[7] he is the grandson of famous musician Gotuvadyam Narayan Iyengar.[8]

Youngest to receive President of India Award


Hailed as "the Mozart of Indian Music" Wisconsin State Journal, USA,.[9] Ravikiran made his first appearance at the age of two[10] in 1969 in Bangalore.[11]

World's youngest Prodigy

Soon after that he was presented in The Madras Music Academy,[12] Krishna Ghana Sabha he was able to identify and render about 325 ragas (melodic scales) and 175 talas (rhythmic cycles) of Carnatic music.[13] He was quizzed by legendary musicians including Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Pandit Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi and Flute T R Mahalingam.[14] Ravi Shankar is said to have declared "If you don't believe in God, look at Ravikiran." [15] He won a scholarship from The Madras Music Academy.[16] Soon after, he was presented in leading institutions such as Shanmukhananda Fine Arts, Bombay.[17]


After training intensely under his father, Chitravina Narasimhan,[18] Ravikiran debuted as a vocalist in 1972, at Coimbatore at the age of five [19] and presented concerts in prominent venues in cities such as Madras, Mysore and Bangalore till age 10. His recitals - often over two and half hours - drew record crowds in major festivals and won critical acclaim in the Indian media. He resumed his appearance as vocalist from 1999 and presents voice concerts occasionally.

Slide Instrumentalist[edit]

At the age of 10, he switched over to the 21-stringed chitravina and gave his maiden chitravina concert at age 11.

Chitravina Ravikiran with Sitar Maestro Ravi Shankar

He established himself as a frontline Indian string instrumentalist within the next 3 years with recitals in major venues and festivals.[20] In July 1985, he set a record with a 24-hour non-stop solo concert in Chennai.[21] He won an exemption to perform professional concerts for Indian Radio and Television (Doordarshan) at age 12 and was invited to represent his country in Festivals of India in France (1985),[22] Switzerland (1987), Germany (1992), Brazil (2012) and countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Yugoslavia (1997). He has also performed in major events and venues in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore and other countries.

From 1986–96, Ravikiran had the rare distinction of training under the celebrated vocalist T.Brinda, an acknowledged musicians' musician, renowned for her microscopic nuances, authentic repertoire and uncompromising values. Ravikiran's concerts on the chitravina won acclaim across the world for his "teasing precision" and "dazzling effects".[23]


Ravikiran has over 700 classical Indian compositions to his credit which include musical forms such as varnam, krti, javali, tillana and padam. He discovered a raga at the age of two and named it Choodamani after his mother. He also discovered other new ragas such as Keshavapriya, Snehapriya, Andhakarini and Mohini.[24] He is the only composer to have created pieces in each of the 35-talas of Carnatic Music.[25] He has employed five Indian languages - Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi for his lyrics.

Dance & Operatic Creations[edit]

Operatic dance creations of Ravikiran's include Lakshmi Prabhavam, which featured "Inventive instrumentation"[26] Savithri,[27] Vinayaka Vaibhavam, Ramayana (Bala Kandam and Yuddha Kandam),[28] Mahabharata (Karna Shapatam) and Panchakriya. He has also scored music for cross-cultural dance productions such as Cosmos" & "Pushed to the Edge and directed the course of dance project "Divine Equations" with Dr Vyjayantimala Bali and Natya Dance Company, Chicago, based on Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi's compositions. His collaborated with Pt Birju Maharaj in the dance production, "Mahabharata - Geetopadesham"


Ravikiran is well known for his cutting-edge concept of "melharmony",[29] which is harmony with an emphasis on melodic rules of evolved systems such as the raga system of Indian music. It differs from western musical harmony in that musical intervals and/or chords must be created using notes (swaras) permitted in the raga. In addition, emphasis is also placed on how the harmonization positively accentuates the structure of the music. Ravikiran introduced this award-winning concept[30] during his collaboration with artists of the BBC Philharmonic, at the Millennium Festival, UK in Oct 2000.[31]

Melharmony has inspired concerts with leading artists as well as critical discussion among scholars[32] in international conferences including Society for Music Theory Conference, Boston (2005) and Melody, Harmony, Melharmony conference, Houston (2014).[33]


Ravikiran has created music for Western Classical Symphony Orchestras, Chamber Orchestras, String Quartets as well as Caprices for solo violins. He has collaborated with top-draw artistes of various genres such as Taj Mahal,[34] Glen Velez, Larry Coryell and orchestras such as BBC Philharmonic[35] and Sacramento Symphony.[36]

Among Indian maestros, he has performed with Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, T Brinda, Girija Devi, Dr M Balamuralikrishna, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt,Dr N Ramani, R K Shrikanthan, Nedanoori Krishnamurthy, U Shrinivas [37]and others.


Ravikiran, renowned for his vast repertoire - in excess of 1000 compositions of master Indian composers, has trained numerous disciples all over the world,[38] many of who are award-winning performers and teachers. He pioneered the concept of tele-teaching in 1996. He is probably the first guru to have used the Flip teaching method through structured syllabuses online, and many of his video lessons are hosted by Acharyanet.com. He also brought to light hundreds of compositions of 18th century composer, Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi [39] through concerts, workshops, books and articles.[40]

Ambassador of Culture[edit]

An active champion of culture,[41] Ravikiran has performed in hundreds of schools and colleges all over India and USA. At age 20, he organised a symbolic non-stop 72-hour concert for "world peace and prosperity" that brought together the who's who of Carnatic music.[42]

In 2006, he conducted a special music camp for over 31,000 rural children in Tamil Nadu, India for the Indian Government's Sarva Shiksha Abhyan.[43] A lobbyist for cultural renaissance in India,[44] he was invited to provide syllabuses for Music Education in Schools in India for Grades I – VIII.

In 2013, he introduced Indian music through Melharmonic creations for Middle and High School level orchestras in School Districts in USA such as Middleton, WI.[45] He introduced Carnatic music in several countries such as Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia.[46]

Ravikiran's concerts have raised substantial funds for disaster relief including Hurricane Katrina,[47] Tsunami of 2004 as well as for educational, health and cultural initiatives

Author and Orator[edit]

Ravikiran has authored several best-selling books on Carnatic Music including

  • Appreciating Carnatic Music[48]
  • Perfecting Carnatic Music Level I and II [49]
  • Life and Contributions of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi[50]
  • Saptaratnas and Navavaranams of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi[50]
  • Inaiyatra innishai (The incomparable music)[51]

He has also penned a number of articles in leading Journals and Dailies.[52][53][54][55]

Known as a scholarly and witty orator, Ravikiran has lectured extensively across the world on music and allied subjects and introduced Indian music in many schools in India and USA.[56] His critical presentations on topics such as CMCM (Common Mistakes in Carnatic Music) have drawn musicians, musicologists, students and general audiences in large numbers.[57]

He has presented papers in conferences like The Society for Music Theory Conference, Boston, The India-Amsterdam Conference, Netherlands and in several conferences of The Music Academy, Madras.[58]

Select compositions[edit]

Composition Raga Remarks
Adi Vinayakam Reethigowla Varnam – Part of Vinayaka Vaibhavam
Sami ninne Sahana Varnam
Sarigamadana Vasantabhairavi Varnam
Punnagai azhahil Surati Pada Varnam for music & dance
Kuzhaloodi konjidum Mohanam Pada Varnam for music & dance
Sada sharanam Gowrimanohari Krti on Vinayaka
Sakaleshwara Hamsadhwani Krti on Vinayaka
Sada nin paadame Chakravakam Krti with only descending note-phrases
Sharavanabhava Bilahari Krti on Shanmukha
Rasikapriya Rasikapriya Krti on Devi
72 Mela Ragamalika Geetam Ragamalika Class & Concert level – 73 ragas in 7 mts
Bhasha malika krti Ragamalika In 5 languages – Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada & Hindi – Opera Ramayana
Saadaramutonu Shankarabharanam Thematic Swarakshara krti (Every line begins with S,D – R,D – G,D – M,D etc)
Sadaa dayato Hindolam Thematic Swarakshara krti using SD,- GD,- MD, etc and SM,- GM,- DM, etc)
Sari samana Keshavapriya Krti – raga discovered by Ravikiran
Aashai niraiveridave Ragamalika Folksy critique on human nature
Aaraadhanai sheivaradi Ragamalika Feisty critique on posthumous reverence
Unmai unarndor Ragamalika Philosophical rumination
Vidhiyin vindai Bhupalam On destiny
Unnai naadi Saveri Padam for music & dance
Varuvai muraha Begada Javali for music & dance
Moha mataladi Vasanta Javali for music & dance
Pancha raga-tala-jati tillana Ragamalika Pallavi, Anupallavi & 3 charanams & reversing raga-tala sequence
Tarikita Khamach Tillana in Chaturashra Tishra style – Opera Ramayana
Dasha-Ranjani Tillana Ragamalika Tillana employing 10 ragas whose names end in "Ranjani" (like Shree ranjani, Mararanjani) – Opera Mahabharata
Natya Malika Tillana Tillana Tillana in 3 movements for 3 styles of dance - Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Kuchipudi – Opera Mahabharata
Takajham tajham Atana Dwigati Tillana (Tishram & Chaturashram) in every line
Tattom tattom Kalyanavasantam Tillana – charanam lyrics alliterate on 'va' to beat
Tamarasakshamunu Behag Varnam-Interesting plays on swaraksharam in charanam


Ravikiran is one of the most decorated artistes from India at the International, National, State and artistic levels. In most cases, he has been the first or youngest to have received such recognition, including a Fellowship from The Madras Music Academy at age two.

International Level:

· Millennium Festival Award (Millennium Commission, Government of UK) – 2000
– Best Contemporary World Album (New Age Voice Awards, USA) – 2001
– Citation from City of Houston, USA
– Citation from City of Tulsa, USA

National & State Level:

– President of India's Sangeet Natak Akademi Award – 2007
· Star of India Award (Wisdom International) – 1985
– Sanskriti Award (Sanskriti Foundation) – 1990
– Kalaimamani (Tamil Nadu State Award) – 1985
– Kumar Gandharva Samman (Madhya Pradesh State Award) – 1996


· Arul Isai Selvan – 1973
– Music Academy Senior Awards – several, since 1979
– Lion's International Award – 1979
– Nada Sudharnava – 1980
– Tantri Gana Visharada – 1983
– Sangeet Samraat (Wisdom International) – 1985
– Rotary Vocational Award – 1985
– Madhura Naada Mannar – 1986
– Isai Peroli (Kartik Fine Arts) – 1991
– Sangeeta Choodamani (Krishna Gana Sabha) – 1995
– Chitravina Vidya Varidhi (Yarl Society, Perth, Australia) – 1996
– Kumar Gandharva Award (Kumar Gandharva Foundation, Bombay) – 2000
– Vadya Ratnakara (India Fine Arts, Austin, TX), 2002
– Lifetime Achievement Award (Kanchi Foundation, India), 2003
– Harvard Sangeet Award (Harvard University, USA), 2005
– TTK Award (Music Academy, Madras, India), 2003
– Sangeeta Sapta Saagara (Shanti Fine Arts, Chennai, India), 2005
– Nalli Season Award (Nalli Foundation, Chennai, India), 2006
– Ragalaya Sagara by Ragalaya Foundation, London, Jan 2008
– Sangeeta Ratnakara, Cleveland, USA, 2010
– Rotary Lifetime Award, July 2011

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Oxford University Press (Edited by Colin Larkins - Print 2006/Online 2009) "Even if the term ‘child prodigy’ has been used with impropriety in the past, it is surely entirely applicable to this master of the chitraveena"
  2. ^ The Mail, 28 Sept, 1973 "Classical Recital by Ravikiran"
  3. ^ Deccan Herald, 7 May 2006 "A creator of Ragas"
  4. ^ The Hindu Dec 19, 1999
  5. ^ The Hindu, July 15, 2005
  6. ^ http://www.ravikiranmusic.com/Melharmony.htm
  7. ^ Deccan Herald, Bangalore 10 Dec 1979
  9. ^ http://host.madison.com/news/local/education/local_schools/school-spotlight-mozart-of-indian-music-visits-middleton-cross-plains/article_ccf9e83c-a080-11e2-bb5a-0019bb2963f4.html
  10. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4562RZiC4k
  11. ^ The Hindu, Bangalore (22 August 1969) "Prodigy in Carnatic Music"
  12. ^ Journal of the Music Academy, Madras, 1970
  13. ^ BBC World Radio - 6 Aug, 2003 "Family Revives Rare Tradition" by Charles Haviland
  14. ^ Ananda Vikatan Weekly, Madras (Aug 1969)
  15. ^ Page 253 of "Another Garland, Biographies of Carnatic Composers and Musicians" - N Rajagopalan 1992.
  16. ^ The Hindu 29 Dec, 1969
  17. ^ Times of India, Bombay, 4 April 1971 "Ravi - the Raga Reckoner"
  18. ^ http://www.ravikiranmusic.com/chitravinanarasimhan.htm
  19. ^ Abram, David. The Rough Guide to South India (3 ed.). p. 671. 
  20. ^ Indian Express 1 Aug, 1982 "Child Genius"
  21. ^ The Hindu 28 July 1985 "A performance to cherish"
  22. ^ Times of India, Bombay, 4 Sept 1987
  23. ^ John Rockwell in New York Times, 27 Nov 1988
  24. ^ Deccan Herald, Bangalore 7 May 2006 "A creator of Ragas"
  25. ^ http://shillika.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/chitraveena-n-ravikiran-at-tattvaloka/
  26. ^ The Plain Dealer, Cleveland 1 April 1997
  27. ^ The Melbourne Age, April 1998
  28. ^ http://www.aradhana.org/
  29. ^ Hindustan Times, Bombay 24 August 2011 "Pushing Boundaries"
  30. ^ Telegraph & Argus, UK Dec 2000 "Tate Honour for Kalasangam Group"
  31. ^ BBC Magazine Cover Story "BBC Melharmonic!" (Nov 2000)
  32. ^ Professor Mark Hijleh "Practical Concepts and Methods for the Analysis of Music Across Human Cultures"
  33. ^ http://asiasociety.org/texas/events/asia-society-presents-chitravina-n-ravikiran-melody-harmony-and-melharmony-0
  34. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 2 July 1995
  35. ^ Desi Talk, New York 3 March 2000 "Ravikiran to compose for BBC Philharmonic"
  36. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5LnJ3xzUpM
  37. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yDPDAem85c
  38. ^ Sruti - India's leading Music and Dance Magazine, Oct 2008
  39. ^ http://www.venkatakavi.org/
  40. ^ The Hindu 13 Feb, 2011 "Distinctive Contributor"
  41. ^ DNA, Bombay 24 Jan 2007
  42. ^ Indian Express Madras, 21 Aug 1987 Lead Story "Musical Yagna gets underway"
  43. ^ Deccan Chronicle 1 June 2006
  44. ^ Times of India 9 Dec, 2010 "Artists meet Prime Minister"
  45. ^ Middleton, WI
  46. ^ Slovenia Times 8 Oct 2011
  47. ^ Tampa Tribune, 18 Nov 2005
  48. ^ Ganesh & Co, Madras, India
  49. ^ The International Foundation for Carnatic Music http://ifcm.ravikiranmusic.com
  50. ^ a b The International Foundation for Carnatic Music
  51. ^ Sarva Shiksha Abhyan, Government of India
  52. ^ The Hindu 18 Dec 2010 "Culture - essential or extra fitting?"
  53. ^ The Hindu 13 Dec 2012 "A tribute to Sitar legend Ravi Shankar"
  54. ^ Deccan Chronicle 4 Dec, 2012 "Gen XT Reality Check
  55. ^ Deccan Chronicle 6 July 2013 "The CID (Content, Intent, Delivery) Mantra"
  56. ^ Brookfield Academy, WI Oct 2013
  57. ^ Samudhra Music Monthly, Chennai June 2014
  58. ^ Journal of the Music Academy, Madras 1989, 2008, 2013

External links[edit]