Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brands of 10 things I currently can't live without..

1. Internet

E-mail, photos, feed reader, blog, maps -- Google rules my life while I surf the web!

2. Yogurt & Buttermilk -- Organic Stone Valley Whole Milk Yogurt with Cream on Top & buttermilk

I have a tendency to put yogurt on anything I eat as a finishing
course -- curry, rotis, it really doesn't matter! :) I can't survive
without yogurt/buttermilk for a week!

3. Toothbrush -- Colgate

Honestly, I am not consciously inspired/loyal to Colgate. I've been using it since I was a kid and I don't see any reason to complain. So I stick with it. It is one of those things I take for granted.

4. Coffee -- Bru

For while I tried Nescafe. But nothing beats our good, old Bru!

5. People

I guess I don't have a brand for this one but the ones that are fun, lively and kind would make the cut..:) I can't survive without some kind of human contact everyday..

6. Cellphone -- Samsung T509

My first cellphone in the US was a Samsung which I absolutely loved. It was easy to use and the battery life was amazing. It didn't switch off randomly and the software was pretty intuitive. The next phone was the disastrous Moto RaZr which I bought in a fit of aattu mandhai mentality. Boy, did I regret it! After 2 years of it, I drove S crazy by insisting that I'll buy ONLY Samsung. This is one brand I am very loyal to!

7. Laptop -- Lenovo (nee IBM) Thinkpad

I am a huge fan of Thinkpads. I love their light-weight feel and the cooling system is the best I've seen. I own two Thinkpads..:)

8. Music --

iPod, iTunes, my car's mp3 player and my hardy laptop -- these things provide my daily fix of music. I guess there's no one brand I go to for my music.

9. Shoes -- Reebok

I am not a brand name junkie, in general. But when it comes to shoes, it makes a difference what you wear. Especially if you run/walk a lot. I like my current Reebok sneakers.

10. Videocam -- Sony

I use this to capture most of the memorable moments in my life. What'll I do without thee?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Carnatic musicians and the music lovers of today..

I cannot claim great theoretical knowledge of Carnatic music nor can I identify 200 different ragas in the bat of an eyelash. Expert musicians may frown at me because I can't tell Huseni apart from Nayaki. But I listen to lots of music and have strong opinions on music/musicians. I think D.K. Patammal's rendition of "Mamava Pattabhirama" is THE best. I might not like Sanjay's Abhogi as much as I like his Darbar. I like to listen to Maharajapuram Santhanam's Raga Dwijavanthi when I want to be soothed but I'd listen to the same Raga by Sudha Ragunathan if I want to feel hyper. It is my pet peeve that most artists sing "Anandamritakarshinim.." in Raga Amritavarshini like an express train and lose the beauty of Raga Amritavarshini. And I believe next to Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar, Ilayaraja is the king of Amritavarshini (Thoongadha Vizhigal Rendu from Agni Nakshathiram)!

I am sure there are millions of other novices like me who have similar ideas. Meet the new generation of armchair music philosophers. I am sure this clan existed as long as music has but this generation is more empowered. Technological profileration in the form of iPods, portable mp3/CD/Cassette players have helped this on. But the attitude of the music-listening public has changed as well. I don't have to wait until December season to buy expensive concert tickets to listen to T.M. Krishna or Sanjay or Nithyasree in full form. I can listen to music in the privacy of my own home/car when and where I choose to. Thanks to the Internet, I can listen to thousands of songs from lots of different artists. I form opinions & expectations even before I go to a concert.

I am stating the obvious here. So what does this new generation audience mean to performing artists? Familiarity breeds contempt. If a musician falls into a pattern of singing songs from his/her CDs all the time and does it in the exact same style, will the audience enjoy it? No more than once or twice. This is precisely what happened with me at the Aruna Sairam concert last week.

I like Aruna Sairam but this concert was like listening to one of her CDs. She sang Nannu Vidachi in Reetigowlai the exact same way as I've heard her in iTunes. Most songs didn't have raga alapana or neraval. They were just renditions of flat, straight-up krithis. Besides, the audience asked for 4-5 tukkadas which've been sung by her a thousand times before! I could almost guess even before she started --

Enna kavi padinalum in Nilamani
Baje Mrudunga in Darbari Kanada
Madu Meikkum Kanne -- Folk

I was looking for something new/refreshing and I was disappointed! How much can an artist afford to satisfy the audience?! Wouldn't it be like getting into a rut? In today's world where music is so freely available, I don't think artists can afford to get into a predictable pattern of songs.

I am very much a fan of Aruna Sairam. I believe the bhavam she brings to songs is quite hair-raising. But I would definitely like to see her improvise, sing new songs and startle the audience once in a while.