Today the mridangam is most widely used in Carnatic music performances. It is the primary rhythmic accompaniment in a Carnatic music and newa music ensemble.
There are great mridangam maestros. One such popular personality is Karaikudi R. Krishnamurthy. Mridangam expert Karaikudi R. Krishnamurthy hails from a family of illustrious musicians in Karaikudi village of Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu. Karaikudi Krishnamurthyâ€™s family has played Carnatic music for eight generations. His ancestors, predominantly veena players, were court musicians to the Maharajah of Pudukkotai. Krishnamurthyâ€™s grandfather, Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, and his brother Subrama Iyer, are famously known as the â€˜Karaikudi Brothersâ€™. Subrama Iyer created musical history by being the only veena player to have ever played the instrument in an upright position. At the tender age of four, Krishnamurthy showed a fascination for the instrument and Subrama Iyer presented him with his first mridangam.
At the age of eight, Krishnamurthy was received into gurukulavasam by the late Padmashree Ramanathapuram C.S.Murugaboopathy. By the age of twelve he was already providing accompaniment to highly acclaimed maestros like Maharajapuram Visvanatha Iyer, GNB, Flute Mali and Dr. N. Ramani. He has also accompanied great personalities like the late T.R.Mahalingham(Flute), M.L.Vasanthakumari, Madurai Seshagopalan and an unending host of equally great artists. He demonstrated his versatility as a mirudangist by playing for dance performances as well.
He has accompanied many great dance artists. Krishnamurthys role as guru commenced when he was appointed as mridanga lecturer at Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts in 1959.
Between 1981 and 1988 he was a tutor at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society. In 1990 he moved to the United Kingdom where he continues to impart classical music knowledge in its pristine purity for future generations of musicians. Krishnamurthy continues to male significant contribution towards the promotion of traditional Carnatic music and performing art, not just in this country but throughout the world.
He is also proving to be an accomplished and acknowledged music composer. Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowship and awards were given to 47 eminent persons by President Pranab Mukherjee. Out of these eminent personalities and artists was Karaikudi R Krishnamurthy.
He received his training in the Mridangam under Ramanathapuram C. S. Murugaboopathy.
He has performed from an early age, accompanying eminent Carnatic musicians such as Maharajapuram Visvanatha Iyer, G.N. Balasubramaniam, and T.R. Mahalingam on the Mridangam.
Besides winning recognition as a drummer, Shri Karaikudi R. Krishnamurthy has received acclaim as a composer of dance music.
He has created music for a number of choreographic works, which has been well received within the country and abroad. To promote new work in the field, he has conducted workshops in dance music at leading institutions, and produced CDs of compositions such as Saphtha Bhairavi, Kuraipu, and Moharas. A dedicated teacher, Shri Krishnamurthy has trained students in the Mridangam both in India and abroad.
He continues to contribute to Indian dance music at home and abroad as a teacher, composer and performer.Shri Karaikudi R. Krishnamurthy has been honoured with the Vishwa Kala Bharathi title (2003) by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai.Shri Karaikudi R. Krishnamurthy receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to dance music as an Mridangam artist.