K. S. Narayanaswamy, was a Carnatic veena exponent of the Thanjavur style, in which nuances and subtleties are given more importance over rhythm based acrobatics.
He was born on the 27 September 1914 to Narayaniammal and Koduvayur Sivarama Iyer at Koduvayur in Palghat district in Kerala. He underwent initial training in Carnatic music under K.S. Krishna Iyer, his brother, between his seventh and fourteenth years. Later, he joined the Music College at Annamalai University in Chidambaram where he learnt vocal music under stalwarts like Sangeetha Kalanidhi, T S Sabesa Iyer and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Tanjore Ponniah Pillai, descendent of the famous Tanjore Quartet. He also learnt the veena under Desamangalam Subramania Iyer and the mridangam under Tanjore Ponniah Pillai. From 1937-1946, he served as the lecturer at the Annamalai University, his alma mater, and assisted in publishing the Tamil kritis of Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Neelakanta Sivan and Arunachala Kavi.
Upon the invitation of His Highness, the Maharaja of Travancore, he took up lectureship in veena at the Swathi Thirunal College of Music (erstwhile Swathi Thirunal Music Academy) at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. During his tenure at the Academy, he was instrumental, along with Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, then principal of the Academy, in editing and publishing the kritis of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma. He participated in several international conferences and was a member of the Music and Cultural Delegations to the erstwhile USSR and East European countries in 1954. In 1970, he was invited by Yehudi Menuhin to attend the Bath International Music Festival and perform at London, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, and Birmingham. Later, he succeeded Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer as the principal of the Academy and retired in 1970.
In 1970, he came to Mumbai, as the principal of the Sangeetha Vidyalaya of Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha and taught both vocal music and veena till 1985.In 1974, he took part as the teacher of Carnatic music and veena at the Eleventh Conference of International Society of Music Education at Perth, Australia. He also participated in the Indian Music and Dance Festival of the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation at Berlin in 1977.
He was a recipient of many awards including the State Award of Kerala in 1962 and that of Tamil Nadu in 1968;the National Award of Central Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1968; the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India in 1977;Sangeetha Kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy, Chennai in 1979 and the Swathi Ratna in 1999.