Born to a biochemist father in the extraordinarily musical village of Rudrapatna, Shashank Subramanyam started learning early in life - he could reputedly recognise all 72 Melakarta scales by the age of two-and-a-half. His first musical immersions were with singing and violin, but he fell in love with the venu flute as soon as he picked it up, focusing on it from that point onwards.
He taught himself at first, but soon sought to enter the gurukul under legendary flute maestro T.R. Mahalingam ('Flute Mali'). But in Shashank's words, "When my father took me to him for his guidance, he refused, saying that I should not be guided by any flautist, including himself. He did not want to influence me with his style of playing, but it was his valuable advice that led me to vocal gurus instead. The flute was self-taught."
His tireless study has led to the creation of new forms of gamaka (singing ornament). He has incorporates novel hand positions and breathing techniques, and has immersed himself into the grammar of Hindustani music too, frequently collaborating with artists from the North including, including sitarists Pandit Kushal Das and Purbayan Chatterjee for Darbar projects. Over the past decade he has worked with artists including Paco de Lucia, Terry Riley, and Remember Shakti, and is today recognised as among the finest venu exponents to have ever lived.
"It’s about kalpanaswaram - how aesthetically you can combine these mathematical structures with music."
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