Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

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VijayR
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#1 Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by VijayR » 10 Feb 2012, 22:23

Vidwan T.M. Krishna has written an opinion piece in The Hindu about the CM experience, kutcheri format, etc. The link is given below. Certainly raises some interesting questions, but in my humble opinion, an equally articulate rebuttal can be made for several of the issues he raises.

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http://www.thehindu.com/arts/music/article2874909.ece

Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna voices his thoughts on Carnatic music, its format and the experience it offers.

Over the past few years, I have tried to look at the Carnatic music performance structure in ways that are not common with regard to our memory of Carnatic music. I don't consider my interpretation of a concert an innovation; they are all questions, which I am posing both to myself and the community at large. This discussion is not about the appreciation (or not) of these changes. These are open to varied reactions depending on one's own conditioning and perception of music or even life.
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Sivaramakrishnan
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#2 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by Sivaramakrishnan » 11 Feb 2012, 03:40

I would very much like to know why no 'innovations' are happening in Hindustani music! High standards prevail there too.
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vinsim
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#3 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by vinsim » 11 Feb 2012, 04:56

TMK is against
1. blindly following standard concert format
2. concert as in "the service of spiritualism, religion or entertainment"
3. ragas being destroyed as new interpretations
4. violation of the position of the syllables while singing niraval
5. Kalpanaswaras used only for mathematics and climax.
6. tani avarthanams that are mere displays of virtuosity
7. the new age rasikas who have lost the basic sensitivity towards the "real" sampradaya

I read somewhere how he was hugely influenced by Jiddu Krishnamurthi. So whenever he launches a tirade against an audience who he believes are blindly conforming to tradition, I can understand where he is coming from. Indeed #1 through #7 are all worthy points.

But there is always a risk of going too far in that direction....like he does with the concert format. Starting off with a tiruppugazh or singing some krithis exceedingly slow or singing raga/tana but no pallavi - all of these seem less of an aesthetic experience and more of a display of arrogance to the paying public.

In the last paragraph, it seems he is in some spiritual conflict regarding a battle between social structure and self-awareness (whatever that means) - so, I guess until he finds some answers he will impose his experiments on the poor audience :D
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srikant1987
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#4 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by srikant1987 » 11 Feb 2012, 07:20

Was just waiting for this. ;)
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sureshvv
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#5 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by sureshvv » 11 Feb 2012, 08:12

Agree with most of what vinsim says... except the "poor audience" part... they get what they richly deserve :-)
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varsha
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#6 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by varsha » 11 Feb 2012, 10:50

I would very much like to know why no 'innovations' are happening in Hindustani music! High standards prevail there too.
agreed . the last time something happened was in 1908 when abdul karim khan , for the first time in history , announced a raga before it was performed .
this was at sholapur when he first announced the name of the raga and daughter hirabai - aged 4 1/2 sang the alaap and son suresh babu - aged 7 - sang the sargam.
Until then No one had ever heard a raga being developed , with the knowledge of its name beforehand !!!!!
That name would come into being , only as the performance progressed.
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bilahari
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#7 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by bilahari » 11 Feb 2012, 12:19

sureshvv wrote:except the "poor audience" part... they get what they richly deserve :-)
+1
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srikant1987
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#8 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by srikant1987 » 11 Feb 2012, 13:50

Varsha,

I don't believe you.

I think Hindustani music concerts these days feature more items than they used to.

Besides, I think rAgas are sung in "inappropriate" times of the day too.
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Sivaramakrishnan
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#9 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by Sivaramakrishnan » 11 Feb 2012, 14:30

Srikant1987, let me quote your latest post :

"I think Hindustani music concerts these days feature more items than they used to.
Besides, I think rAgas are sung in "inappropriate" times of the day too."

You mean to say these are some innovations in H-music?
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varsha
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#10 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by varsha » 11 Feb 2012, 14:38

I don't believe you.
My " agreed " was tongue in cheek . :)
HM has had major changes through the course of this century and which can be a separate subject .
Here I was just trying to impress that once upon a time , even announcing the name of the raga before performing it was considered wrong by many .
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poincare
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#11 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by poincare » 11 Feb 2012, 18:16

vinsim wrote:
7. the new age rasikas who have lost the basic sensitivity towards the "real" sampradaya

I read somewhere how he was hugely influenced by Jiddu Krishnamurthi. So whenever he launches a tirade against an audience who he believes are blindly conforming to tradition,
Vinsim, could you kindly elaborate on what you consider tradition... a concert format that was started in the 1930s dictating a musical system that is centuries older!

So what is "THE TRADITION" in carnatic music...

And here is a general question..

"If rasikas.org was there in the 1930, would people go ballistic on Ariyakudi for his innovation... with things like..
"Oh man this guy is screwing up our tradition.."
"we used to have one raga explored and elaborated for hours and he is making music commercial by shortening them"
"he sings something called thuripugal.. what is this? apparently he tuned it himself...."

When does an innovation become a tradition.. Is it the survival of the popular-est? If so why not try something new or revert to something from the past as TMK on some of his "so-termed"(termed by us) innovation ... and please don't tell me "music is for the rasikas.." That is NOT how you enjoy an art form... tailored to X Y and Z
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kvchellappa
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#12 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by kvchellappa » 11 Feb 2012, 20:23

When Ariyakkudi introduced the new format, it was not haphazard. It was thought out musically in a sound way -see the encomiums it earned from no less a luminary of contemporary times viz. GNB or Sriram Parasuram recently. Its structure had aesthetics, sampradaya, janaranjaka, all packaged in an imaginative way. What TMK is doing is shuffling things with no scheme whatever, implicit or explained. Well, do what he might, I would always love to listen to him because he presents good music no matter in what order he does it.
But, I doubt if it can catch on because it lacks a plan. He is sincere to the art and so pulls crowds. All great artists were listened to because they were true to what they were doing. But, to blaze a tradition, something else may be required.
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vasanthakokilam
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#13 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by vasanthakokilam » 11 Feb 2012, 22:09

>even announcing the name of the raga before performing it was considered wrong by many .

Yup. Let me expand that to make a general point.

What is usually seen with CM concerts abroad is, artists announce the raga if the hosting association is not a regular CM organization, say a fund raiser type of concert since they expect many non-cm listeners in the audience. Artists are sensitive enough to cater to that. It is a good thing. Now we do not see the same artists doing that in Music Academy. There are probably some non-CM listeners in the audience at MA but they cater to the "many".

Moral of the story 1: The "many" in any classical music audience is the hero and villain, hero in maintaining the tradition and the villain in stifling innovation. It is not necessarily the artists. ( the sub text to this story is, the divide between artists and audience was much fuzzier hundred(s) of years back when the general public was not participating as audience but nowadays the divide is very clear )

Moral of the story 2: Innovation is normally equated by classical music audiences with dilution and decline of quality. It is again a problem of the "many" and not the artists. It need not be that way. Take Jazz for example, another 3% genre. Innovation and expansion of the boundaries are part of the system. The "many" expect and demand pushing the boundaries while they listen and enjoy what is already part of the system. No one can reasonably claim that Jazz as a discipline has declined in quality. In fact, if boundaries are not pushed, they would consider that stagnation as a decline in the vitality of the music. They have somehow struck the balance on the notions 'steadiness' ( tradition ) and ever changing boundary ( innovations ). If such thirst from the "many" is absent, any innovation will only be very modest, incremental and many times trivial.

Moral of the story 3: There are indeed many "many"s. Pop audience is a "many" too, but they are transient and scattered. It is good to be aware of such transient "many" and not draw major conclusions from such transient and scattered audiences.
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sureshvv
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#14 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by sureshvv » 12 Feb 2012, 07:41

How about this moral:

Innovation should never be a goal. There should be a more fundamental gut-level purpose behind any change.
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vasanthakokilam
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#15 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by vasanthakokilam » 12 Feb 2012, 12:58

Yes, definitely.
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arasi
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#16 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by arasi » 12 Feb 2012, 15:00

Suresh, you said it so well.

VK,
Yes, it's a matter of who the 'many' are, in an given audience.

When it comes to the Academy, I don't know. Why? They have been publishing their souvenir with concert lists for ever so many years!
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Ramasubramanian M.K
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#17 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 13 Feb 2012, 08:41

ARASI: Re: Academy souvenir publishing the concert lists--this has some unintended consequences when the musician switches the Raga but the opening line of the Sahitya is the same example--Entanerchina(Suddha Danyasi as well as Saveri!! The uninitiated listener may be fooled if the vocalist does not announce the change in the raga of the kriti--an anecdote(not necessarily related to the TMK Innovation(which is getting heated up so much that a touch of levity may not be unwelcome!!). SOURCE: Flute Ramani on the occasion of VR's 80th Birthday celebs @ P.S. High School Hall)


Circa early Thirties--Scene in Kumbakonam -- Alathur bros making their debut with Maharajapuram V in the front row. It seems they (the bros) do not draw up a list on paper but discuss before the concert what items they are going to render not necessarily the sequence. The custom was one of them would give a slight lead to the song and the other will catch on and follow--the follow-up would be so instantaneous that the audience would never notice there was a slight lag. Subbier leads with Entha Nerchina(suddha danyasi) Srinivasa Iyer starts with Enthanerchina in Saveri--Subbier thinks that he made the mistake of starting the suddha danyasi song and immediately switches to Saveri--in the meantime Sreenivasa Iyer likewise thinks that he made the mistake and switches to Enthanerchina in Suddha Danyasi--this faux pa continues for one or two rounds much to the amusement of the audience when Maharajapuram gets up and says IN TAMIL gesturing with the Thumb-up -fingers closed sign of questioning ENTHA NERCHINA PADA POREL(Which Enthanerchina are you going to sing?)-- much to the amusement of the audience!!

The tradition vs Innovation debate is nothing new and will never be resolved even if the entire artiste community decides to follow TMK--as most of the musicians did from the ARI era almost 100 years ago. The true test is whether generations yet to come will maintain the TMK tradition--only time will tell--some departures from the traditions of the trinity were made by some of the disciples of the trinity themselves---for example Thyagaraja has not used the Kakali Nishagda Prayogam in his Khamas krithis(Seethapathe and Sujana Jeevana) whereas Vasudevachar -- a great-grand disciple of Saint Thyagaraja(Manambuchavadi-Patnam Subramani Iyer lineage) used it in his Brocheva and has caught on very well with the artistes as well as the public. I also think that MD has not used the Kakali Nishada prayogam in his krithis,Sarasadala Nayana or Santhanagopalakrishnam--(I would like to be corrected on this by Vidyarthis in the forum) which leads me to believe that the Kakali Nishadam prayogam was not in vogue during the Trinity's time(I am not aware of any kritis by Syama Sastry in Kamas either so that it is not clear if he used it in his kritis). This may not be a great breach of tradition in our modern-day perspective but considering the orthodoxy of the times this should have raised eyebrows amongst the diehards--apparently it did not and today Khamas w/o Kakali Nishadam is rare!!. My point and my personal perspective towards this issue is simply to go with an open mind and try to assimilate what the artiste is trying to do whether it conforms to the format we are used to or not. Most of the times we are swayed by the presentation rather than by any deviation from the tradition--although I am conservative(trust me I have gone the Full Circle over the last 6 decades of listening ) I try to narrow my focus on three DIMENSIONS:

WHAT IS THE ARTISTE TRYING TO DO? HOW WELL DID HE/SHE EXECUTE THE IDEA HE/SHE WAS ATTEMPTING? AND LASTLY WHAT WAS THE EFFECT?--THIS LAST DIMENSION IS PURELY SUBJECTIVE BUT THE OTHER TWO CANNOT HAVE TWO OPINIONS. Over the years this has served me well--so if TMK sings the Kambodhi Varnam(Sarasija) midway thro a concert, I may be flummoxed a little but I focus on how well he rendered it. ARI,ALATHUR,GNB always started with a Varnam(ofcourse GNB used to start with Swaminatha Paripalaya(nattai) sometimes but mostly Varnam. SSI and MMI rarely started with Varnam(SSI will start with either Vallabhanayakasya in Begada or Deva Deva Kalayami Mayamalavagowla and MMI would start with Vatapiganapathim or Nadathanumanisam. None of us felt the deviation detracted from the concerts.
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Ponbhairavi
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#18 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by Ponbhairavi » 16 Feb 2012, 17:17

TMK’s article.
As he has said that “these are all questions that I am posing to myself and the community at large”,I give below my perceptions as a music rasika.

“What is art music? Is music and performance of music the same?
My answer is based on a personal experience. About 55 years back flute Mali came to Pondy to perform in a sabha. He came late to the venue,uttered some short notes through the bamboo, promptly gave a thani,then some intermittent boo boo sounds in the flute sketched some ragas and krithis in an haphazard manner. The concert was an utter disappointment to the audience
He was put up in the Sankar Lodge where I was also staying in a bachelor’s room.Around 11 pm, I woke up hearing some strands of flute music which came floating in the midnight still air. I got up came out, and followed the music to the open terrace(mottai maadi ) where Mali was sitting in a parapet wall oblivious of everything. Slowly exquisite music ( out of which I still remember the mohanam ) flowed out from the pipe, ragas, swarams…No audience there except me and my room mate and we sat silently behind him where he could not notice us. No sruthi box , no accompaniment, nothing.It went up to 1-30 am unearthly music in an unearthly hour.
I consider what I heard at the open terrace as art music and what he played at the sabha as performance music

Is experience of art music an entertainment or something more?.
It is certainly not an entertainment as nobody was entertained and nothing was asked for nor needed at that time. May be Mali entertained himself or better he could not desist himself from expressing his art out.

“ By something more, I refer to the openness of the experience of music and the freedom to ACCEPT and perform music as an expression beyond the confines of a format
There was no format, The question of acceptance or otherwise does not arise at all for art music .Probably when Oothukadu or any other vaggeyakara had been singing and dancing their compositions, they did not seek nor expect any acceptance from anybody. Chances are that there was none at all.

“ to me the space of performance is immaterial to art music . The music that I believe is the same whether I sing in the private space of my house or in front of an audience.”
I beg to disagree.The statement appears correct only in part ( upto the space of my house.) If in perfect freedom I go anywhere I please, a temple, a park or beach or a highway and sing my heart out, then yes. But If I go to a predetermined place, at a fixed and pre advertised time in a preplanned attire,
Where I know that hundreds of people are waiting for me( in other words if I do not have the freedom NOT to go there that means if I am committed to mark mypresence there, the question of acceptance by the expectants is inescapable. But if curious passers-by gather around me in a temple or park in an unexpected manner then I need no acceptance from anyone as I did not expect them there, nor did they expect me there.( pl confront the mali episode.)

art music is in my opinion not a service of spiritualism religion or entertainment’
Yes in the Mali example quoted art music is certainly not a service of spiritualism, religion, or entertainment.—I would add money or fame earning also. In fact it is not in service of anything at all. But when Thyagarajaswamy
sings hetsarika ga rara at night in his humble abode in his daily Dolotsavam it IS art music at the service of spiritualism and religion. When his disciples and some bhagavathars( there are many of them even now!!) sing the same songs or other such compositions ( without any remuneration ) in their bhajanai kalyana utsavam in front of sleepy scanty audience, it is art music at the service of religion.In fact 99 per cent of the compositions of all the great Vaggeyakaras which form the corpus of the repertoire of carnatic music today are art music at the service of religion. Therefore whether it is at the service of spiritualism or religion or entertainment depends only upon the singer.
( to be continued )
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arasi
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#19 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by arasi » 16 Feb 2012, 19:20

Ponbhairavi,
Waiting for the rest...
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vasanthakokilam
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#20 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by vasanthakokilam » 17 Feb 2012, 12:52

As per request by rajeshnat, the mali related posts were moved to the Mali thread: http://www.rasikas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=506
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Ponbhairavi
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#21 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by Ponbhairavi » 17 Feb 2012, 14:58

The format is a convenience that gives us a method of presentation.

True. But it has been evolved over years of experience, something like a south Indian meal, kalyana sappadu, with a succession of varied items in a particular order. The fact that restaurant facilities are provided at the sabha venues underlines the extent of similarities between செவிக்கு உணவு and , வயிற்றுக்கு உணவு .When I eat at home, I can eat curd rice first and then sambar. But in a wedding reception(where no money is charged ) or in a restaurant which charges money(different rates for ordinary and special meals) like different rates of tickets for different kutcheries if only தயிர் சாதம் orசர்க்கரை பொங்கல் is provided, then it is not satisfying. ,however much it can be quantitatively or qualitatively In fairness it must be accepted that the “menu “ or format is not so rigid, but offers plenty of scope of alternatives or combinations.

[b]Is it the only or even the best expression of music?

Not necessarily. But it should be acknowledged that it has stood the test of time during periods when two to three thousand concerts were not packed in a single city within a short period of 2 to 3 months,. It is quite probable that this “pressure” has created a subconscious revolt against the “shackles” of established format. But demolishing the format may not be the solution . We may not burn the house in anger against the bed bugs.

-it is astonishing that nobody seems to be bothered when ragas are massacred, compositions given scant respect.”
-We are happy (?) to justify ragas being destroyed as new interpretations and innovations”
“ -neraval singing is dead today”
“ -Kalpana swaras are used only for mathematics or climax(why not ?)
-Thani avarthanams are mere display of virtuosity ( what is wrong about it ?)

I have a feeling that TMK’s grievances are exaggerated.

“ Presenting padams ,varnam and swarajathiswhich are serious compositions as central pieces has authenticity as those were some of the forms that dominated the sphere of compositional music in the past”

The above forms plus thillana and javalis receive better treatment in dance music. Their compositional value is not questioned . The “ titillating”(another ) thillana in kundalavarali by Dr. Balamuralikrishna comes to my mind)They do have their place in the menu and many not grudge if TMK directs the focus on them taking one item in one concert.

“Alapana without following it with a composition”[/]

Raga alapana is like a dress or new outfit made by an innovative and imaginative designer . A composition is a mannequin or model. The beauty of a dress is seen best when it is worn by a suitable person.

what is the difference between watching a variety entertainment program and a carnatic music concert.?”

A variety entertainment program can be enjoyed by ANY lay man. Carnatic music is for the initiated only. There are plenty of people who cannot be made to sit in a concert hall for 15 minutes even if you pay them hundreds of rupees.

What is the difference between Nama sangeerthanam and a carnatic music concert?

Nama sangeerthanam has the avowed objective of elevating the moral fabric of a person by involving his direct and active participation. It is bhakthi pracharam- propagation of bhakthi.
Active participation may be a nuisance in a music concert.

“What is the difference between a trapeze artist and a singer?”

In a circus we marvel at the physical potentialities of human body and we are awed by the precision of the execution .It is a visual pleasure like sculpture or painting. In a music concert we marvel at the imaginative potentialities of an artist and the prowess of his vocal chords(or fingers) as he creates an abstract world for aural pleasure.

“ compositions are presented for titillation and that seems to be enough.”

What is wrong about it. The menu has a place for pickles -part of the arusuvai at the proper dose ( God has created கிடாரங்காய் exclusively for that purpose and which has no other use.

Art music becomes performance music the minute it has to take into consideration not only the audience but also and more importantly the accompanists .It is a fact that the present format has several deficiencies one of which is justified dissatisfaction among the accompanists .In fairness it must be acknowledged that TMK has done considerable lot to give due recognition to the violinists and mridangists. Such innovations are welcome and need to be encouraged.
Nearing the end let us go back to the beginning (a la Krishna ). It is TMK who has proposed a new expression coined by him “art music ” and has asked for the definition of “ what is art music”. Dr M. Balamuralikrishna prefers the appellation of Shastriya sangeetham. This seems to be quite adequate if we have nothing against shastras and our religious cultural tradition. It is undeniable that carnatic music has a strong undercurrent of Bhakthi ,which pervades in all the compositions. Even when a performer does not believe in bhakthi, the listener enjoys a bliss due to the bhava embedded in the composition, and the raga’s mesmerizing impact on human soul . Carnatic music was born in religious altar, nurtured and cultivated in temples , puja rooms and religious festivities. It is impossible to separate carnatic music from its religious connotation. If by the name of “art music’we wish to paint it with a “secular” coating ,we have to wait for a new set of agnostic or atheist composers well versed in all the technicalities of the musical “science” to come forward to create a new repertoire finding inspiration for “arputha rasa” in natural sceneries, karunya rasa in the plight of the victims of sunami-like calamities ,rowthra rasa in the face of national level corruption, soga rasa in the victims of planted bomb blasts and bibatsa rasa at the “ignorant” believers
The wait will be long, not in terms of decades but in centuries.
Rajagopalan.
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Nick H
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#22 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by Nick H » 17 Feb 2012, 15:40

Ponbhairavi, your hammer must be red hot, for you have hit so many nails on the head
It is TMK who has proposed a new expression coined by him “art music ”
And it makes no sense. All music is art. Yes, even the jingle of a TV advertisement required some sort of creative spark in its composition. The world talks about "classical" music (although, strictly, we misuse the term to the extent that I can't even remember its real definition); we can, very specifically, talk about "carnatic" music because ...err, it's what we are talking about!

There are lots of appropriate adjectives that can be applied to music. Light, serious, heavy, popular, commercial, religious, devotional ...the list goes on as long as the imagination. Different adjectives for different music; different adjectives for the same music in different circumstances. No need to create jargon where language is rich already.
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rajeshnat
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#23 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by rajeshnat » 17 Feb 2012, 16:25

Wonderful Ponbhairavi (rajagopalan Sir), when I met you last year I could see a sense of tejas - a kind of deep understanding and truly a serene personality, now I am seeing more and more in your writing . You being an antakAlathu language professor , it will be a good antidote to intha kAlathu sms english generation.

I would suggest you to write a new topic post - kind of whitepaper on what you think one can expect/experience from carnatic music, kind of connecting indianness, spirituality, religious insight, entertainment , experience etc.

IT NEED NOT BE A REBUTTAL for this article, it can be a new leaf collating all your thoughts , possibly you can write as one big word article convert it as pdf and upload it (at times I find that is the best way to tell everything you wanted to tell in one go , without distractions ;))
Last edited by rajeshnat on 17 Feb 2012, 17:10, edited 2 times in total.
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arasi
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#24 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by arasi » 17 Feb 2012, 17:04

Rajesh,
Ponbhairavi was a language professor, but he taught French. In the Kavidaigal thread, you can read his kavidais, some of them are translations of French poems.
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arunk
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#25 Re: Vid. T.M. Krishna's article in The Hindu

Post by arunk » 17 Feb 2012, 21:49

And he enters the lion's den, a bold and perhaps foolish thing thing for one who usually only looks at it afar using a pair of binoculars....
Does anyone care about the position of the syllables while singing niraval?
I find this completely laughable when a person can strictly adhere to the position of the syllables but completely destroy the underlying words as ra ga ga ga ma ga ga ga ni gi gi gi gi nu gu gu gu gu (rAma ninnu - hypothetical). TMK does this, SSI does this etc. etc. What is the point?

What is the aim of neraval? Perhaps texts have precise definitions and rules, but IMO, dance probably uses it the best sense (sanchAri bhAvam) - i.e. elaborate to highlight meaning, extrapolate meaning etc. using the bhAvam inherent in the rAga etc. Additional constraints like above is placed only to highlight/demonstrate vidvat (i.e. it is harder to improvise when you also have to respect more constraints).

My 2 cents

Arun
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