Wish all the artists a great season with more rasikas attending them.
I am happy some artists are honest about it that they would like to have at least one tenth the number of friends that they have in facebook and whatsapp to be present during their concerts.
This honest acceptance and sorry situation must also lead us to some realization to rectify certain short comings and effect the necessary changes, if possible.
First we need to set right certain very simple things that are to listen and enjoy a karnatik music concert one need not necessarily require great knowledge but only sharp ears and better listening with interest. So there need not be any inhibition.
Do we have any inhibition to watch movies in India where most often when anyone falls in love with another person of the opposite sex [ I do not want to misuse the word hero or heroine] immediately they must dance and run in a beach, preferably in Mauritius or Australia with a group of at least ten other people changing the attire every two minutes; or hold hands, safest way to get censor board clearance, in a mall at Singapore or in front of some internationally labeled monument or swing near a waterfalls?
Actually till date, at least personally, I have not understood this type of love making at all.
Do we have any inhibition to watch a very angry person with a gun or big sword holding it and delivering a lecture to his enemy, longer than the ones I have ever heard in my college days, and then after the enemy escapes jump over buildings, hang on to the wings of plane etc to catch the enemy to continue the lecture!
I can never understand these anyway.
Nor do I have any objection? Who am I to question them anyway? But nor do I see anyone attempting to do social engineering in these art forms questioning why love making must be done only in that way? Why shooting an enemy must be done only after a lecture etc?
There are consumers and producers so from making films we now manufacture them to suit the tastes of the consumers or we have effectively conditioned the consumers to want only such products ad nausea.
So it is not just about concerts and crowds, lack of knowledge or inhibition etc.
It is a manifestation of many of our attitudinal problems starting from lack of patience; unwillingness, ignorance and indifference to learn of art of appreciation and want of aesthetic sensitivity; confusing and evaluating a particular art form with irrelevant and illogical comparisons and evaluations; trying to deprive it of its very essential ingredients; smudging it with clumsy political overtones; performing most of the things more as a ritual rather than with real reverence for substance; worst part criticizing performers/performance on things unrelated to music and indirectly in general belittle the very art through various means despite the fact that the people who do these may not ultimately gain any great tangible benefit out if it.
Everything knows its own evolutionary process, and I think karnatik music is too great to succumb to squeezing by small minds and smaller crowds.
Classical music and Natyams are not a few sabhas centric activities, nor are they a few artists centric nor a few media houses centric nor a few institutions centric.
They are massive universes where in all these are either significant or not so significant planets moving about either with or without life.
Excuse me for trying to over generalize but these are some observations that I made as a naïve listener who also happen to be an avid rasika with very little knowledge.
The fact is nowadays there are more performers than Rasikas.
Even the rasikas are hard pressed for time; traffic is an excuse, many other options available on audio-visual media and internet etc; besides many do not have the luxury of attending so many concerts and for long duration. There are also many genuine constraints.
People want something of everything in anything; you can call it multiplex mentality or masala movie syndrome [ I remember a popular but learned producer when asked why he was making such silly movies mixing everything in a particular theme said ‘baba Hindi movie mei masala chahiye sab cheese ko thoda thoda aur kuche bhi nei choda] because we would like to have a short go at everything, a brief peep into something then a peck at something else.
For example this is the 20th topic that I am reading or writing in the past 10 hours. That’s why search engines are more popular than old reference books or library.
The performers and sabhas all will have to pay more attention to acoustics, here in though I am tempted to explain in detail many unpleasant things in Karnatik music circuit I prefer to exercise restraint.
Besides, the distractions are too many like operating mobiles and lap tops during concerts, in addition to the usual constant chatting with others etc.
More often many concerts are performed very ritualistically without substance by some artists who are more conscious about impressing with rendering of more kritis, more complicated pieces beyond their expertise, capacity of their lung power, strength of their vocal chords etc which deprives music of its bhava and leaves the listener dissatisfied.
More than everything else there are too many programs crammed in a very short span which has its own share of votaries in the form of status quo addicts who want it for various reasons some valid some mere justifications put forth/assigned to vindicate their position.
All said and done there is a festive mood and there are some who enjoy it.
Too much of questioning may end up winding it up. So we need to find more ways and means as to how to not only uphold the rich tradition but also update/upgrade it in such way without depriving it of its musical richness and make the tradition to an appealing transformation through a very effective, acceptable, pleasant but without compromising any component of musical richness through some form of transition which some senior musicians are already doing or attempting to do.
Emphasis must be more on expressing the joy that one derives out of music, the experiences that one has enjoyed through the journey of music rather than exhibiting the technical skills, though they are also necessary but the emphasis must be more of bhava.
I sometimes wonder whether artists should be bothered at all about the number of concerts they perform, time slots of their concerts etc especially during December music season.
I wish all artists realize that the greatness of an artist is neither the number of concerts he/she performs nor the crowd of rasikas that flock to their concerts or the slot that they get to perform nor even in the awards that they get etc.
I have given below some links which can/may be used as reference to
1. Can we deprive carnatic music of its main ingredients? This was as a reply to someone writing some aspects of carnatic music as being a hindrance to its development
2. What contributes to greatness?
Recently while writing about science I wrote this small piece and I think this applies to many domains of human activity. http://contentwriteups.blogspot.in/2015/10/real-greatness-of-science.html
3. Distraction from karnatic music through irrelevant priorities
4. Why at any cost we must try to promote carnatic music actively
5. Dress code is not a major contributory factor to carnatic music
6. 2013 Music festival
7. There is definitely a need for transition and transformation without compromising too much on tradition because in ancient classical art forms tradition acts as a measuring tool and also set the rules /grammar so one cannot totally deviate with carefree abandon
8. Carnatic music will gloriously survive in all its splendor despite everything else.
Page 141of ‘Becoming Indian’ by Pavan K. Varma
“When people are the subjects of their own culture, their creative expression has self –assuredness and spontaneity, so they create a unique and effective language of communication even when the grammar is imperfect. This is because the idiom is authentic. But when people become objects of a foreign culture, a huge transformation takes place. Suddenly, a creative work is judged not for its intrinsic value, or for the heritage it is sourced from or is a part of, but for the degree to which it is comprehensible and conforms to the outsider’s culture. The process is all the more mutilating if the outsider belongs to the dominant political or military power of the time [or a putrefied political ideology-italics mine], and there is necessary prejudice, condescension and prurience in his gaze. When this happens, spontaneity reduces itself to self –conscious mediocrity; creativity seeks to qualify itself [to some irrelevant yard stick]; authenticity gives way to imitation; self –assurance is replaced by denial. An entire culture attempts to reinterpret itself in terms that will somehow win the dominant outsider’s approval. The ‘objectified’ people then thrive only as exotica; their historic role becomes that of the observed; everything external about them –and nothing of intrinsic value-is collated, classified and investigated. They finally end up as caricatures, divorced from their own cultural milieu and perpetually alien-in spite of their best efforts at emulation-to that of the outsider.” [What is more pathetic is the hitherto insiders getting converted into outsiders causing chaos]
Please note: All things written in this quote in brackets and in italics are mine.