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Music Season- A Thought On Critics

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by jayasala42, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Music season has commenced with warm ( cool) reception from Lord Varuna.
    The ringing sound of the bell is heard well before the elephant is seen.
    Even before announcement of music season, all the news papers magazines ,both in vernacular and English are flooded with information reg kutcheris,musicians,their profile etc.
    Every day we read hundreds of reviews reg the past and present performances.
    Most of the critics comment only on the positive aspects of the concert ,perhaps for fear of not being a source of discouragement to the performing artist.Many popular journals prefer not to offend the popular artists.
    It is often reported that vidwans keep a constant touch with the media.
    While the critics are expected to be honest to the musicians as well as to the target audience,the musician also should be honest and be prepared to accept when mistakes are pointed out, as much as they accept the accolades.
    Just like musicians, critics also try to showcase their talents during the music season. No doubt, many rasikas,including myself, love to read the reviews more frequently than even listening to performances.
    However Subbudu's criticisms were at the extreme.
    Critics revel in usage of high sounding musical phrases and exhibit their
    rich vocabulary more particularly in the music season.If we go through the papers for a week,we may notice that the review contains ununderstandable phrases like,"Forced Accentuation,Adventurous Inclination,Breezy complexion,Compellingly Revealed,Structural Cohesiveness,Passionate Gracefulness,Individual Identity,Over Amplification,Over stretched,Full Stream Articulation,Enunciation of Sahityas,Delineation of Raga Bhava,Succint Korvai,Dynamic Intonation'"-to cite a few examples.

    Knowingly or unknowingly we seem to cherish such bombastic expressions.
    Is it not ridiculous that we are not prepared to accept that a simple,straight forward Carnatic Music Review can be more eloquent than forced accentuation?
    Senior vidwans have matured thinking " "POTRUVAAR POTRATTUM,THOOTRUVAAR THOOTRATTUM ",
    (" Let anybody praise, let anyone criticize") though they may be the first ones to read the review and feel elated or otherwise.

    But the critics also seem to be more particular in showcasing their verbal eloquence rather than passing an impartial judgement on the performances.The responsibility of the critics towards budding artists is a significant one.They have to be gentler and kinder to younger generation,but should never hesitate to point out the mistakes in a softer tone.They can also note to publish general guidelines for cultivating a mind set to take criticism as a sincere feed back and positive step for improvement.
    Reg reviews in Tamil magazines,they carry objectionable statements couched in incorrect expressions,since there are only a handful of critics capable of writing in Tamil.
    Music critics seem to lack exposure in Rhythm.Senior musicians can organize periodical workshops and conferences for the critics with special reference to Talam.There is a pressing need for a course of some sort on CRITICISM of Carnatic Music ( both Tamil and English) for journalists entering the field.

    Who can forget the the thin unassuming music critic Subbudu who lived the life of a political journalist surviving death threats,physical assaults,and law suits,tempting bribes. Reason: He made sure that his words were remembered and not the artists;
    No musician of his time,including M. S. MLV, Madurai Mani, GNB and many others- escaped without being scorched by him. The arrows that emanated from his acid pen were really too sharp and poisonous.

    A simple example
    "அவசர நிலைமை கூட முடிவுக்கு வந்து விட்டது. செம்மங்குடியின் கச்சேரிக்கு முடிவே இல்லை."( Even Emergency has come to an end and not the performance of Semmangudi)
    After so much acid throws Subbudu said"என்னுடைய எழுத்தில் காரம் இருந்தாலும் குரோதம் இருக்காது("My writings may be hot but not not harsh")
    '.Last days of Subbudu were marked by seclusion from the art circle.He was totally ignored by many vidwans.
    It was a moving scene when President Abdul Kalam brought a beautiful rose from the Mughal garden and placed it on his favourite writer's body as desired by Subbudu himself.

    Nobody could forget the prominent board placed in front of the academy with the words" Artists, be aware. Subbudu is in the town."
    A cartoon poster depicting the artist as ghatam and Subbudu as the ghatam player still remains fresh.
    .
    Shri Subbudu had kept all his commentaries about musicians in a loft.75% of the papers were destroyed by white ants.Subbudu used to say
    that he believed that those white ants would take birth as music critics in the next janma.
    This is what Shri N. Vittal ,the then Central Vigilance Commissioner commented about Shri Subbudu.

    He can also be said to have crossed the limits of ocean and he has seen the KARAI
    or bank of the ocean of music.

    Of course the unfortunate victims of his over reaching comments had to carry the KARAI or stigma.
    Rasikas, get ready to read the reviews and commentaries from the media. You cannot hop on from venue to venue in the rainy season.
    jayasala42
     
    kkrish and Amulet like this.
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  2. Agatha83

    Agatha83 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Jayasala,

    These critics who are comfortably seated in the first row, let the audience know about their arrival, through the big namaskaram by the performing artist, amidst a challenging alapana on the stage. Actually the artists on the stage should be the more respected lot, because Carnatic music is a highly challenging and demanding music.
    Those stalwarts of yesteryears are no more and even those who perform well are taking sanyas from giving concerts due to the ugly politics prevailing among the Sabhas.

    Those who really enjoy the concerts are the oldies who come for the free noon concerts and have a peaceful nap under the cool comforts of the air conditioned auditorium. We have live streaming web concerts, which we can enjoy within the comforts of our home.

    Agatha83
     
  3. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    You are correct Agatha.
    Some critics get a list of songs to be performed from the artist beforehand, just visit the venue for 10 mts and sometimes write the review without attending the performance.My DIL is a performing artist( Bharatha Natyam.She used to send invitation to a few reviewers.
    When she performed in Krishna Gana sabha, I attended the concert.Next day review consisted of her superb performance of a padham, which she never performed as decided earlier but changed the schedule at the last moment as decided by her Guru. Then only my DIl explained about the review writers.
    jayasala42
     
  4. HariLakhera

    HariLakhera Finest Post Winner

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    I have been to a few concerts during my stay in Calcutta some thirty years back. I could have enjoyed more if I had some basic knowledge of classical music. Simply shaking head to the tune of the main instrument is cheating. One has to understand the nitty gritty of music. Enjoying light music with fond lyrics is another thing.
     
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  5. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    Kaushiki Chakraborty married a Parthasarathy, and they had performed together occasionally. Kausiki has a much better "stage presence", perhaps because she is also a fashion ikon of sorts. Not many colorful fashions are available for men ;) to wear on stage.

    Girls also go to concerts to air-out their best silk sarees. And see what else is in fashion.

    The raag Hamsadhwani is often the first one in Carnatic music concerts. And the duo Kaushiki and Parthasarathy do it the Hindustani style:
     
  6. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    After reading Amulet's take , I am reminded of reading about the presence of mamis in Kuchcheris some 40 years back.Reviews were not only about performers but about the audience too.The comments normally ran in the following manner.
    They are not too difficult to spot.You will find them in costly Kanchipuram silk with expansive zari border , normally in 9 yds madisar,glittering diamond ear rings and nose studs., with a dozen gold bangles embedded with multicolored gem stones., along with a strand of jasmine.These species are called Mamis.
    The apparent reason is to listen to some music, real reason being to display their latest acquisition of sarees and jewels.They generally occupy the seats in groups for easy transfer of
    gossips.For every piece they will have a story to narrate as though the rasikas around are eager to hear the inf rather than the music.
    With or without knowledge they will be pouring inf about Raga, Talam and composer invariably comparing the performance with that of the previous year/ day.
    Most mamis would be accompanied by mamas in simple dhotis in striking contrast to the dazzling mamis.They are identifiable by a jolna bag, with concert listings and a kapi flask.Mamas are immuned to mamis' vociferous lectures.Mamis are unchangeable features of karnatic concerts, as important or more important than the accompaniments.This was known as " Mami effect' just like Raman Effect.

    But now no journal can portray mamis like this. Madisar is rarely seen.No silk sarees, no jewellery for obvious reasons of security.We see even oldies in Chooridars and pants.

    Present day boys and girls are really after nuances of music.Too many programmes are clouded within a month. Many famous good artists face an almost empty hall these days.
    It appears better to listen to CDs and FM from home than bargaining with the auto wallas.
    jayasala42
     
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  7. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    This has been the case since the flood-Music-season of 2015. Big artistes have to be paid big money, and this money has to come from sponsors, and ticket sales. Sponsors would come only if there is faces in the audience to imprint their logo/message. A downward spiral !!

    Only the famous venues can get enough bodies in the auditorium in the evenings to afford bigger names.

    I am really surprised that music venues are not offering roundtrip auto rides to the oldies to come to the concerts. Many of the ride-services for schools would be free during the evening hours and these could cart the bodies to the venues. Isn't there Ola, the ride-sharing thing ?

    Movie houses getting into the music-season business is really not helping the traditional concert venues also.
     
  8. HariLakhera

    HariLakhera Finest Post Winner

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    Yes, stage presence does matter and most of the artists appear in their best. One of them was Ravi Shankar, Sitarist.
     

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