Saturday, January 4, 2014

Seasonal Thoughts - Madras - Music- Margazhi

Madras .Margazhi . Music . Mania . Madness !

So many singers, too many sabhas, ravenous rasikas, lec-dems, thematic concerts, live casts, near empty halls, overflowing auditoriums, the much famed ( or should we say hyped?) canteens, Bloggers buzzing with review posts,

"Enga ellaraiyum Dwaraka vukke kootindu poitaar! Solrathukku varthaye illai! ( adhaan solitele? !)  " type gushings on Jaya TV MMU programs, and not to mention some controversial happenings.

And of course, the all-pervading Pattu pudavais. This season's  colour seemed to be Grey Green and Sea blue. I could be totally off a 20 shade this way or that way, though.

Noticed a  senior artist at MA, who forgot to remove the tag from the pattu pudavai. Straight from Nalli I guess. The Schizophrenic self heard Vethal's ( vikram aur Vethal fame ) words " your head will burst into 1000 pieces If you don't go and tell her  ".Before that happened, I  sprinted behind her and attained salvation!

Where do I start? Where do I end?

Choice !

It is quite a task to choose from so many . Especially for a non-resident Madarasi, with limited time. You want to check out the new kid,  the known favorites, novel themes, hitherto unheard of old-timers, and lec-dems. All of them happening at the same time.

Lec-dems are easy to choose as the artists /veterans delivering them usually are men and woman of few words who keep repeating the same year after year. Probably in a different order, thus making our choice somewhat manageable.

Having crossed the first hurdle of  "choice", one needs to get geared to face the real challenges in the human form. Your neighbour at the hall in the next seat - L and R, front row, back row. Apart from praying to Venkata Saila Vihara there is little I can do to be blessed with neighbouring rasikas who will not sing along, or distract me with their loud Tappu talangal, or a menacingly mouthed  "ayyo".

Feel doubly blessed if they don't ask me " Idhu Enna ragam ?"

Wanted to get out of my comfort zone to check out newer artists, online and real-time.

Ran a quick reality check in my mind:

Pattu pudavai -Check.
Jhimki -Check.
Jasmine strands - Check.
Sruthi ..?  Wanted to scream "Please check !"

How tolerant have we become to slight, sometimes not-so-slight sruthi vilagals?

This and a few other issues led to discussions, arguments, agreeing to disagree moments, triumphant  consensual moments with musically inclined friends about:

* Should we be tolerant towards sruthi vilagals here and there in a three-hour concert? After all, they are human is the argument for it.
But the old veterans who sang well into their 60's and 70's - they were human too, no?

* The age old debate of  "you don't need a good voice for Carnatic music.Vidwat, kanakku, clinically perfect presentation is enough." Gave up on this one as good friends are hard to get these days, why lose them over someone's music.

"you are correct, but the goat is mine ", is my stand usually.

Chanced upon a wonderful old timer ..never heard in Chennai, with a vast repertoire of rare and beautiful ragas and krithis. Of course in a nearly empty hall. Was amazed at the artists enthusiasm in delivering as if to a packed room. It was indeed a humbling experience.

But love Madras for all this and more. There is something about this season when music is in the air.

Here is an encore "How I wish" list:

* Artists would take the audience along by explaining the nuances of the raga, composers, composition as they sing. Saw this happening with quite a few artists. Very heartening trend.Unless of course they are singing for an audience of musically talented people,other musicians.

*  A nodal agency connecting all the sabhas and making online booking of tickets easy for non -resident Madrasis.

* A consortium of senior artists who take it upon themselves to unearth unheard compositions of The Trinity. How long can we hear the familiar ones, however pleasing they might be.

* Creating an archive of these songs for future generations. Imagine having all the hitherto known unearthed krithis of the Saint in audio format.I believe there is one at MA.

* Stretching the December Season to a whole year as it becomes an overdose cramming it in 45-60 days.Which explains some excellent concerts not being attended well or a scholarly lec-dems being missed out.

All this must have been thought over by many rasikas and artists I am sure. The problem is to think again.

That is the Madras Margazhi that I recollect.

I remain,

The most confused thing on two legs as always!

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