Shashank Subramanyam

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Shashank at Delhi 2019.jpg

Shashank Subramanyam
Birth nameShashank Subramanyam
BornRudrapatna, India
GenresCarnatic music indian classical music
Occupation(s)Musician / Famous Indian Instrumentalist
InstrumentsVenu flute
Years active1984–present

Shashank Subramanyam is a Grammy-nominated renowned exponent of the Bamboo Flute from India and specialises in Indian Classical Music.[1] He was a child prodigy and began performing from his age of 6 in 1984 and has performed in the top concert circuit for over three decades. He is the youngest recipient of the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi's senior award by Govt. of India to be awarded by the Hon. President of India for the year 2017.

Early life[edit]

Shashank Subramanyam was born in Rudrapatna, India, to Hemalatha and Prof. Subramanyam. His forefathers belong to Tirunelveli dist of Tamil Nadu. He was trained in Carnatic Music by his father and by vocalists R.K. Srikantan, Palghat K.V. Narayanaswami, and Hindustani music under Pandit Jasraj.[2] Shashank is married to Shirisha, a Bharatanatyam dancer. He had no Gurus for Flute playing and was self taught. Shashank and Shirisha have a daughter Swara and son Samvit and live in Chennai, India.[3]

Performing career[edit]

Shashank performed for the general public in 1984 for the first time at the age of 6.

A young Shashank at his Eight – 1986
A ten year old Shashank photographed by Times of India, Bangalore

Shashank began performing at the top circuit in 1990 with major performances in Adelaide, Australia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and in Singapore followed by his major performance at Shastri hall in Dec 1990.[4] His career-defining moment came when the Music Academy invited Shashank, just 12 years old, to perform in the senior most performance slot "SADAS concert" at The Music Academy, Chennai 1 January 1991.[citation needed]

Shashank Subramanyam performing the Sadas concert at The Music Academy. 1 Jan 1991

Shashank has worked extensively presenting collaborative performances with host of musicians from India and around the world including John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia, Wuppertal and Shanxi Symphony Orchestras, The New Jungle Orchestra, Mikkel Nordso, Terry Riley, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Zakir Hussain, Ustad Sultan Khan, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ronu Mazumdar, Ustad Shujaat Khan,[5] and Debu Choudhury.

Shashank performs in a wide range of concert environments from the pure Indian classical, Symphonies, Jazz, Films and crossover projects. He has led many ensembles and also has been a guest artist on many famed bands like Remember Shakti, New Jungle Orchestra, Blue Lotus, etc.


Specialized in Carnatic classical Music and trained in Hindustani Classical music as well, he incorporates patterns of improvisation from both systems of Music from India and uses a range of flutes to cover octaves that are not supported by the traditional Carnatic flute. Shashank is known for his intricate (Improvisations), melodious keerthana ( composition) renderings and pulsating kalpanaswaram (Faster and rhythmic improvisations). His concerts generally include a Ragam Tanam Pallavi as a central piece, normally composed by Shashank himself.[6]

The BBC World TV did a documentary on Shashank titled Destination Music in 2006 and the CNN international TV featured Shashank’s performance and interview as part of the Travel Logue India show, recently.


Several valuable contributions to the field of Flute playing including the following.

• Introduced and furthered the revolutionary Multi Flute Fingering technique in Carnatic Music performances that have inspired scores of Flute players and Musicians from India and around the world.

• Shashank style of Flute playing techniques that helped reproduce the human voice better and solved many old issues of fingering techniques.

• Claw shaped fingering technique that has eased playing fast phrases, produce echo effects among many others. Especially the work done on how best to produce faster taans effectively spanning various ocataves, intricate slides between notes and octaves, gamakas, reduction of stress on fingers with invention of easier finger movements, among many others.

• Dual Octave Sound production technique producing two octaves simultaneously, new ways using flute playing techniques to present Kalpana swaras and Tanam in Carnatic Music portraying a combination of Vocal / Instrumental styles and unique sounds produced only on the Flute.

• Advanced breath control techniques, tonguing techniques, use of percussion like fingering technique on the Flute among scores of other contributions which are difficult to explain in writing that have overall improved ways of Flute playing immensely.

• Co-creator of Shashank style of Carnatic Flute, a near perfect bamboo flute that solved age old defects that existed with the instrument.

Pandit Ravishankar, Balamuralikrishna, Shashank

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Senior Award by Govt of India for the year 2017
  • Grammy Nomination for the album Floating Point with John McLaughlin – 2009
  • Kalaimamani' the state award / title from the Tamil Nadu Government in the year 2001.
  • "A-Top" Ranking in the All India Radio
  • Empaneled artist of the ICCR under Outstanding / senior category since 1995.
  • The National Integration Award ( Spirit of Unity series) – 1991
  • “Kuzhal Arasar” from the prestigious Kellogg School of Management, Chicago - 2002
  • Asthana Vidwan of Sringeri Mutt, by His Holiness Shankaracharya of Sringeri, Karnataka – May 2000
  • “Proclamation to the city” award by Cities of Tulsa and Memphis USA 2010 and 2014
  • Shashank was awarded a direct "A" Grade ranking in the All India Radio and Doordarshan (TV) at his age of 13.
Shashank in performance with Ustad Zakir Hussain – Tabla – 2007
Shashank at Saptak Festival, Ahmedabad
Shashank at Theater De La Ville, Paris
Shashank at Fes Festival, Morocco


He has released over 70CDs and 10 DVDs.

  • Charukeshi - 2016
  • Shashank with Sai Symphony - CD 2015
  • Shashank with Sai Symphony - DVD 2015
  • Seven Continents - Cross over CD with Shashank and Mikkel Nordso - 2015
  • Spirit of Krishna – Shashank and the Folk Musicians of Rajasthan – 2012
  • Shashank, John Sund and Phalgun – Trio Indo Danish jazz CD 2011
  • Gambian Nights - India African collaboration with Kora Player Dawda - 2011
  • RoR Touch Part 2- a Fusion album – EMI / India Beat Records – 2008
  • Sundara – DVD – 2010
  • Mohana – DVD- 2010
  • Sundara – CD – 2010
  • Mohana – CD – 2010
  • Live at the Playhouse – Copenhagen Jazz Festival – Jazz CD – 2009
  • RoR Touch – a Fusion album – EMI / India Beat Records – 2008
  • Floating Point with Legendary Guitarist John McLaughlin
  • Bindumalini
  • Josh – Live concert held at Saptak, Ahmedabad – CD 1
  • Josh – Live concert held at Saptak, Ahmedabad – CD 2
  • Utsav – Celebrations of Indian Classical Music – Shashank by Music Today – DVD – 2007
  • Enchanting Hamsadhwani
  • Utsav – Music Today Masters of Indian Music – DVD intro by Pandit Jasraj
  • Raag Lathangi
  • Rasayana – Flute and Sitar in a dialogue – CD 1, CD 2
  • Margazhi Melodies – Live Concert 2004 – CD 1, CD 2
  • Kalarasana – Live in Chennai – CD 1, CD 2, CD 3
  • MOKSHA – Salvation
  • INTUITVE MINDS- The lute and Bamboo in a dialogue – CD 1, CD 2
  • SAMMILAN – North and South in a melting pot
  • God has many names – Swiss text book CD – 1995
  • Endless beauties from the Bamboo – 1994 – CD 1, CD 2
  • Melodies from the Bamboo Flute – CD 1 and 2 – 1993
  • Melodies from the Bamboo Flutes – Album 2 – 1992
  • Melodies from the Bamboo Flutes – Album 1 – 1991


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  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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