Cultural gateway of Southern India, Chennai (pop. 6.5 million), formerly known as Madras, is commended for a 6,000 years old musical tradition. Music has been passed down through generations with the Gurukulam method, consisting of music teachers hosting students in their home to transfer music knowledge and practice as a way of life. In recent years, the Gurukulam method has been progressively institutionalised into academies involving young people from early age, notably to learn the manufacturing of traditional music instruments, an industry which contributes US$6.4 million of the estimated 20 million generated by the current creative economy.
Known for Carnatic music–an Indian classical vocal music subgenre–Chennai organises a two-month Music Season, touted to be among the largest music festival in the world, with audiences and artists coming across India to participate in 1,500 performances spread all over the city's public spaces. Chennai's music scene is closely linked with the creation of social cohesion in urban life. The Chennai Sangamam event has been set to regenerate ancient villages and engage artists from rural zones, and the Urur-Olcott Kuppam Margazhi festival focuses on using music as a tool for unity bridging different communities and cultures.
The Chennai government intensi es efforts, along with the music industry's public and private stakeholders, to strengthen international recognition and outreach of the local artists and music events, including the Music Season through the “Enchanting Tamil Nadu” campaign. In 2016, the Chennai International Centre was established to further promote culture for socio-economic change. The city also offers various awards, scholarships and grants to encourage and facilitate the development and emergence of world-class artists through international exchange and mobility.
As a Creative City of Music, Chennai envisages:
- setting a joint project within all public schools to further encourage young people to engage in culture as a tool for identity-building;
- creating a space for cultural professionals to interact with urban designers in order to successfully embed culture in urban planning;
- organising a cultural roadshow throughout the city with musicians and students reflecting on the Chennai urban challenges and opportunities;
- setting up national and international events in collaboration with other Creative Cities, to learn and share practices, methodologies and experiences;
- developing international music and dance festivals with other Creative Cities highlighting cultural diversity and dialogue; and
- encouraging communities of disadvantaged areas of the city to engage in new avenues and professional opportunities in the eld of music.