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.


Edgar Dantas said...

hey nice blog really enjoyed goin through it really nice post too.I really appreciate it
with regards
edgar dantas

prabukarthik said...

super 1st comment.

PS: comment a delete pannine na enakku ketta kovam varum solten.

As discussed in gtalk, my views are in a different tangent.

Hey Ram la solra madhiri
aruna sairam oda song selection nyaayam nee aruna sairam a irundhu partha dhaan puriyum

அக்னிபாரதி said...

Perhaps what we need is musicians and not just singers - like Maharajpuram, Balamurali and even Ilayaraja who compose and sing.

Ganesh Venkittu said...

Your post gave the answer as to why we are seeing "diluted standards"...

We dont ask Dhenuka..we ask darbar..
we dont ask Manavati...we ask mayamalava gowlai...
we dont ask for gujjari, or simhavahini....we dont ask eesha manohari, we dont ask kalkada....

as "Cho" quotes from bagavad gita in "saathiram sonnathillai" Drama, its "We" who should try to elevate ourselves....

the astute listener should seek more "depth"...and the singer would oblige..

PS: it so happens, you seem to be having problems with all those who I revere. so I commented..

Nandini Kambi said...

hi there
I have started a web blog to feature many artists in USA to perform this December season. We will have a different artist each day, with links to their videos online.

It is a humble beginning and I am hoping to get some encouragement from fellow artists and carnatic music fans.

Please check it out, and also inform your friends here in the States to participate.

thank you very much

Nandini Kambi
Nashville, Tennessee