Carnatic Fusion: Sites for Identity Reconciliation or Erasure?

Adithi Hebbar
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts
Symbiosis Internation (Deemed University)


Carnatic fusion is a cultural practice that has emerged over the last few decades as a way to present the mainstream Carnatic classical music to a wider audience in a more accessible and palatable manner. In this paper, I look closely at the trends and attitudes within Carnatic fusion practice through the case studies of three Carnatic fusion performers: Mahesh Raghvan, Jagadis Natarajan, and P.V. Bose. The existing research on Carnatic fusion is scarce and fails to connect it to the larger debates on globalisation and identity. My paper not only aims to explore the trends within Carnatic fusion but also aims to connect these trends to larger debates on globalisation and identity. The research method employed is case study, and the data analysed has been gathered primarily through interviews and secondary sources. Through multiple interviews with the artists as well as their PR persons, the following study describes and contextualises Carnatic fusion music within discussions regarding globalisation and identity formation. Themes discussed include the extent of the use of social media in promoting Carnatic fusion, glocalisation, and A. R. Rahman as a primary figure of influence for young artists. The paper concludes that Carnatic fusion music is a manifestation of the multiple identities we have adopted in a globalised world. It connects aspects like performativity, democratisation, secularism, and individualism, into the way we understand the realms of identity and globalisation within Carnatic fusion music. In addition, it also addresses T. M. Krishna’s critique that Carnatic fusion music is our desire to access everything while remaining indifferent to its context. The many aspects of their own music that the artists connect to their individual experiences, make the artists relatable and even aspirational to their audiences.

Keywords: Carnatic fusion, globalisation, identity, shared consciousness, democratisation