Sunday, 4 September 2011

Language of Music..

Last year, during the Music Conference in one of the most reputed Sabhas, a very senior Vidwan remarked ‘…….’ is the mother tongue of Carnatic Music. I refrain from mentioning the name of the language since I have a lot of regard and respect for that language ( it is not Tamizh anyway!).

I feel it was an atrocious and outrageous statement coming as it did from a very senior musician. This is chauvinism at its worst and deserves to be condemned. It also betrays the narrow mindedness of some classical musicians.

There is yet another category of classical musicians- Haters of Film music. Though likes and dislikes are personal and are subjective, what irks me is the fact that these people hardly listen to Film music but still pass on irreverent comments. Ostrich like, they dig their heads under the sand. This refusal to see reality is most disturbing.

This is not to say that all classical musicians are like this. Nor do I have anything against classical musicians. I have the highest regard for classical music and musicians but I also feel that a true musician should have an open mind and appreciate anything which is good irrespective of the form.

Did not Saint Tyagaraja sing ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu..Andarikki Vandanamulu’?

There is one more group of classical musicians- vidwans/vidushis who claim to have done a ‘lot of research’ on film music and spread the raga based songs to the world. While their mission is commendable, I feel it would be nice if they do their home work well. For example, a musician who regularly undertakes ‘musical journeys’ on stage and who explains the ragas fairly well always talks only about the popular songs(read songs known to her) and conveniently leaves the songs despite their being good.

This too, according to me is not a good trend since one has to have a good repertoire before venturing on any project.

This musician writes a fortnightly column in a national newspaper too and in the 3 ragas covered so far, some of the major compositions of ILaiyaraaja have been left out. While it is next to impossible to include all compositions in a raga in a small column, it would have been nice if some effort was made to mention some rare classical compositions which would kindle the interest of the reader.

Take the raga Shanmukhapriya.

Though some wonderful compositions have been mentioned, I was also more than surprised to see some great compositions being left out. Ignorance? Or Negligence?

Classic examples- ‘Abhisheka Neratthil’(Azhage Unnai Aaradhikkiren), ‘Vengaya Saambarum’(Panneer PushpangaL).

The aforementioned were great hits during late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Of course, it is too much to expect a song like ‘Ponnu Paakka’(AvaL oru Pachchikuzhandai) to be mentioned when even popular songs were left out.

I shall take up yet another rare song now and if any of your friends’ friend happens to know the musician, please try and convey the message to that musician : ‘Please widen your horizon..’.

The Rare Gem of the day is ‘Podhum Podhum’ from ‘Oru Iravu Oru PaRavai’(1980).

The prelude itself is very interesting.

Synth in combination with the keyboard with the violins joining soon.Within the 12 second, the sketch of Shanmukhapriya is drawn.The elongated note leads to the flute which sings in the raga to the accompaniment of the single stringed folk instrument.
Towards the end, the flute sings the first line of the Pallavi itself.

Suseela in her inimitable style sings the Pallavi and with the wordings, it is clear that it is a ‘oodal’ song.The great SPB takes over and continues in pure Shanmukhapriya.

The powerful Bass Flute in the first interlude takes us through the lanes of Shanmukhapriya. The ‘Bird calls’ and the strings transport us to a ‘Beautiful New World’.

The CharaNams are designed meticulously and aesthetically with all the lines moving with vigour and vitality.

A surprise awaits us in the second and third interludes.It was the first time (and the only time) that he used same BGM for the second and third interludes.

But musically it is very interesting.

A single string of Guitar plays and repeats the same notes while the dexterous keyboard gushes on. The percussion jumps with joy. A joyful competition between the strings and flute follows.

Can such beautiful music have any language? Is music not a language by itself?

Let us shed our hypocrisy and closed mind and learn to appreciate anything beautiful!!


Suresh S said...

Nice post Raj. You anger is justified I would say. Lot of people have this attitude unfortunately.

I think I know the author you are referring to. Anyway I am not too impressed with author's credentials to worry about which song is chosen or not.

Coming to the song you posted, it is for the first time I am hearing this. Lovely Shanmukhapriya. Thanks for posting this.

Raj said...

Thanks for your comment Suresh!

The funniest part is that author praising a violin bit from a song composed by a 'contemperory' MD while talking about Abheri.I wonder how many film songs she has listened to.. :).