Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pining for that Pure note

There were times when a music review - unbiased and balanced at that would lead us to that musician's concert. The reviews of concerts these days are more promotional in nature and least educative, with most of them being lopsided with just போற்றி போற்றி ( Hail ) kind of comments.

Bias is easy to spot.

And then we have the other extreme that even goes to the extent of personally attacking the singer in a vulgar way.

Sadly even The Hindu carries such reviews during the season. Recently read one with a Chauvinistic and sexist undertone attacking the singer at a very personal level.

I have long since stopped reading these so called reviews that leave you none the wiser and are at best articles that strive to showcase the writing talent and expose their knowledge in Carnatic music or the lack of it. Most often the latter and it shows.

The digital age has given license to everyone to be a critic as most blogs/ pages are free to start. This has taken the musician bashing to a different level altogether.

As I pine for that pure note here are my thoughts and as such in no particular order.

  • Most often the ones who take the effort to write a review are the ardent fans of the individual musician. ( This falls under the போற்றி போற்றி ( Hail ) category ).
  • Obviously, there is going to be an apparent bias, or they are going to wink at the flaws for the love of music of that particular musician.
  • The second category is the professional journalist who writes as part of his/her  job, during the season and goes back to writing columns on Politics, Bollywood, Food and all post-December season. A generalist so to speak.
  • In this case, it is a job that most often lacks the technical knowledge and specialised skills required to review a Carnatic music performance critically. The passion and neutrality that the review needs are absent too most often. 
  • So either way, it fails to be an accurate review. At best it turns out to be a verbal or verbose narration of one's concert experience studded with flourishes associated with the Carnatic music and much cliched at that.
  •  Nothing wrong with that. I do this too as I am not technically qualified to review Carnatic music, but love to write about the melodic experience that a live concert offers, for the love of music and writing. But it just is a personal blog post and not to be confused with a concert review. Never.
  • The most counter-productive third category of reviews are the ones that are dipped in venom and bring out only negatives about musicians. These are most detrimental to this art form, and the artists' form.
  • The morale of so many young upcoming artists'  gets deflated by this mindless category who are  otherwise receptive to constructive feedback.
  • All these leave a big void where constructive, neutral, unbiased analysis of Music is concerned.
  • The younger generation of musicians and rasikas need a balanced review to hone their skills as singers and to appreciate music better as listeners.
  • Unless this happens, quality of music cannot be sustained over time.
  • Which is why we see such vagaries in standards of music. Bad ones getting a prime slot/ stage and good ones not getting the right platform.
  • Now comes the pertinent Q. Is a good singer, famous and popular ready to take an honest feedback that may not be positive? Is the ardent fan ready for a candid review?
  • The rasikas who love a particular musician are also in a way tongue-tied to speak the truth at all times? For whatever reasons best known to them.
  • Wouldn't it be great to have a panel of critics, reviewers who have to pass a qualifying test to be even able to review a performance and publish Consolidated review based on a preset rubrics as a panel?
  • Or Imagine this. Upcoming artistes inviting leading musicians for their concert with a request to review it at the end while senior players beckon other musicians of same standing to analyse their music threadbare.It would be so healthy to have such an atmosphere, is it not?
  • I am sure this will help upcoming artists and complacent seniors alike.
  • Let random individuals continue to write about music using their new found freedom in Social media much to the annoyance of fundamentalists, which will whither away over time with structured, knowledgeable reviews taking over.
  • Personally, I look forward to not just good cutcheris but also balanced reviews that help choose newer artists, apart from aiding better appreciation and analysis of this art form as a mere Rasika.
  • To Subbu'do' or Subbu'don't'? Or is there a middle path?

I long for an analytical, constructive, informative review of concerts from a specialist that would sound like a MDR kedaram with restricted gamakams,
(read: verbal flourishes ) and laden with pure notes ( read: purely about the music and nothing else ).

Gamakkams may be the Hall-mark of Carnatic music, but a pure note style paves the way for a peaceful and pleasing auditory experience.

Listen to this MDR Kedaram,to understand my pining for the pure note style in concerts and also concert reviews . 

Credits :
Subbu'do' / Subbu'don't' word credits to The Internet and other bloggers.

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