Why HM sounds sweeter

Miscellaneous topics on Carnatic music
munirao2001
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#51 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by munirao2001 »

Nick.H., Sir,
I don't know how two artists can be named as inventing/adapting stuff which has been going on all over the world since forever.
What I have posted is from the general to specific. General theories, systems, methods, practices in all the classical music systems to the specific theories, systems, methods, practices in Karnataka Sangeetham. Innovation of Great Maestro S.Kalyanaraman is afresh, anew but in relation with the existing knowledge of KM. Adoption and modification of Vidu.Aruna Sairam is based on the Western Classical and other music systems and Karnataka Sangeetham. All the scholars interested can write to Brhadhwani for the proceedings of the meet, to which I had referred in my previous post.

munirao2001

varsha
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#52 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

It has happenned to number of musicians including the great Ariyakudi.
mt 28.00
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf6tqL3sjss
AND .....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1DlVeFjXew

Nick H
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#53 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Nick H »

munirao2001 wrote:Nick.H., Sir,
What I have posted is from the general to specific. General theories, systems, methods, practices in all the classical music systems to the specific theories, systems, methods, practices in Karnataka Sangeetham.
Ah, ok. my mistake/ignorance.

My feeling is that many performers can gain from the wider world of voice training, ie the general case. As I mentioned before, this is not (gods forbid) so that they sound like Western classical singers, but so that they can make better use of their lungs, chest, vocal cords, throat... all the equipment that nature has given with which to make sound.

sureshvv
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#54 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by sureshvv »

SrinathK wrote:You really don't need the head voice for CM. (for those who don't know, it's that voice you use when you want to sing in a high pitch beyond the point where your voice would break or sound like a flute)
Ok... Will put it somewhat differently then. It is the ability to independently control the amplitude & frequency of sound produced.

Sivaramakrishnan
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#55 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Sivaramakrishnan »

It's said the Maverick HM Mukul Shivputra, son of the legendary Kumar Gandharva lent an ear to CM only when he happened to hear M D Ramanathan. Highly impressed, he came down to Chennai and found a place to stay around Adyar with the help of Sri Sethuraman- one of the close friends of MDR- and was reported to have taken a few lessons from the master.

The story goes, one fine morning the elusive disciple was missing from his abode and later found travelling back North!

His music was of high order.

varsha
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#56 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

Speaking of KG , here is a relatively new and exotic 76 mt version of chaya nat in a concert
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4FtWdacrJ0

Outstandingly rare , on many many counts .Never thought I would see technology get me these at the click of a button .
A nat , a chaya ...and a chayanat .

Read Along .. for full effect
http://www.parrikar.org/hindustani/nat

vgovindan
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#57 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by vgovindan »

"....As with any gas whose density differs from that of air, inhaling a small volume of helium temporarily changes the timbre and quality of human voice...."

Wikipedia - Helium - Periodic Table - http://www.ptable.com/

Has this anything to do with the generally observed behaviour of previous generation musicians in using betel leaves and nut?

thenpaanan
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#58 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by thenpaanan »

In my humble opinion CMians are relatively innocent of voice culture. Our North Indian brethren are a little bit better but for reasons other than what has been described here thus far. In my opinion, voice culture is about a systematic study of the voice apparatus that leads to desired (modulo the variations of individual voices) effects on the produced sound in a reproducible manner (i.e. one should have the ability to impart that knowledge to someone else). I have asked any number of senior vidwans over the years about this and the answers have varied. One vidwan (I am not naming them so as to not start a fight here) said rather brusquely "What do you mean by voice culture? What I sing is voice culture." I learned that perhaps the question needs to be rephrased. The next time I asked (a different person, this one a SK) "how should I practice so that I can get better at 'nAdam'?" The response was "Our ancestors have showed the way -- practice the varnams in three speeds and everything will be all right." Note that at that
time I was already what you might call an "advanced" student. I realized that the musician was giving me a formulaic answer. I have asked the question in many different ways and the answers were even more demeaning, ranging from "why bother" to "do what I do and everything will be fine." I have heard that the great BMK (who in my opinion has a great voice but he could be greater with a little less attitude) said "this works for me but I don't know how to tell you how to sound like me." This is the first and necessary step in the journey, to acknowledge that you don't know. And that is the real truth. Most singers in CM and perhaps many in HM don't know how they are able to sing the way they do. A recent conversation with a leading contemporary violinist who is also a singer was the worst. I asked him about using Western techniques to help in singing CM. He said "don't mix uppuma and pasta" implying that there is nothing to be gained there.

I have now come across a handful of individuals in CM who have paid attention to the question "how to sing properly" without getting caught up in the arrogance (mixed with ignorance) that is implied in all the attitudes mentioned above. There are individuals who try to answer these basic questions: (1) how can one create the most volume with the least effort? (2) how can one sound powerful and relaxed at the same time? (3) how should one sing each vowel and consonant so that it can be clearly heard by the listener and at the same time does not impede the answer to the first two questions? (4) How to sing the widest range that is possible for you without any strain (or at least only momentary strain)? (5) What is the aesthetic that one should strive for when multiple options are available -- singing softly vs loudly, sweetly vs forcefully, fast vs slow melodic lines, etc and is it possible to adopt different aesthetics at different points?

Our North Indian friends are better sounding mostly because somehow their system has hit upon a training regime that mostly inculcates good habits in young singers (such as not closing the mouth, using breath properly, supporting the voice at all times, etc). Just look at how even a newbie HM will open his/her mouth like a hippo when singing the tAra shadjam -- CM somehow thinks that opening the mouth that wide is uncouth. However, it does not sound like the HM folks have experimented with the options and came to their conclusions about voice culture (but my sample set is very small relative to my CM experience). When I talk to the HM folks about technical details they are themselves unable to say why they sound better than me when they sing -- we even tried the vatapi ganapatim example (e.g. is it the slow build up, is it the freedom to sing in your preferred part of the octave etc). I was recently at a Tyagaraja aradhana in my city and I was horrified to listen to three hours worth of young kids performing kritis -- out of fifteen, only two were aligned (this is an actual count, not an impressionistic detail). The rest simply sang at some pitch other than what the shruti box was producing. Then at the end, a "guest" kid performed a short hindustani piece -- her perfect alignment and her majestic volume (making all the other kids young and old sound puny) knocked the socks off the audience. To my mind that kid did not do anything more than what should be rightly expected of such a student. And yet the audience did not say "why cant our kids sing a Tyagaraja kriti like that?" Instead they just said "oh, she sings hindustani" as if that is somehow a different activity altogether. Which got me to think that the expectations of the CM part of the crowd were so abysmally low. When I remarked to some stranger sitting next to me that the kids were having trouble with sruthi that person said "so what?" The predominant feeling was the kids were singing Tyagaraja kritis, isn't that so great! Does not matter if they sang it in tune, that can be fixed later. Does not matter that they were straining their neck muscles to sing the higher registers with their veins popping or the sound became half the volume, because that is how even our vidwans do it.

Our problem may simply be that our forebears have allowed us to cultivate such attitudes and feel good about them at the same time. Think of all the vocal gimmicks our vidwans have used over the years. We are all trying to sing like ARI or B-M or BMK without having the slightest clue about how they sang. At the same time we fixate on "gamaka shuddham" to the exclusion of everything else and we are persuaded that other things are not "that important" or that bhakti bhava is what matters.

But it is not all bad news. I came across an interview by MDR who explained how his teacher Tiger told him to sing deeply, that he should keep volume "in reserve", etc. I have never heard any of the old musicians talk about singing in that manner. SKR seems to have thought through the matter in some depth but the analysis that I have read seems incomplete. In the not so modern generation, Vid. Tadepalli Lokanatha Sharma seems to know what he is doing (Voleti is an interesting case -- we don't know how exactly he went about creating his mellifluous voice). TMK in the current set seems to be miraculously good though he has admitted that he himself does not know how it works. Ra-Ga seem to have a good handle on it. I have heard that Carnatica brothers are giving instructions -- I dont know so I cannot comment. The epidemic of voice failures (TNS, Sanjay, Nityashree, Sudha R, the list goes on) for no discernible reason should be cautionary tales to people like Abhishek R and Sandeep N.

There is a huge universe of self-help videos on Youtube for western singers. Even if we think we are philosophically against their "sound", we should at least try to adopt their systematic thinking. I would love to meet other people who are like-minded on this point without having to face the ire of people who think that everything is ok as it is.

-Thenpaanan

vgovindan
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#59 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by vgovindan »

Voice Culture -

"A perfect voice speaks so directly to the soul of the hearer that all appearance of artfully prepared effect is absent. Indian Classical Music is always connected with spirituality, when a vocalist of Indian Classical Music sings in correct 'tone' the whole environment becomes spiritual and soothing"

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitst ... er%201.pdf

Madurai Somu - Enna Kavi Padinalum
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiiDf-HmkCE

rajeshnat
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#60 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by rajeshnat »

thenpaanan wrote: I was recently at a Tyagaraja aradhana in my city and I was horrified to listen to three hours worth of young kids performing kritis -- out of fifteen, only two were aligned (this is an actual count, not an impressionistic detail). The rest simply sang at some pitch other than what the shruti box was producing. Then at the end, a "guest" kid performed a short hindustani piece -- her perfect alignment and her majestic volume (making all the other kids young and old sound puny) knocked the socks off the audience. To my mind that kid did not do anything more than what should be rightly expected of such a student. And yet the audience did not say "why cant our kids sing a Tyagaraja kriti like that?" Instead they just said "oh, she sings hindustani" as if that is somehow a different activity altogether.
Have you ever seen a hindustani music aradhana where bunch of kids or musicians sing together a hindustani bandish like pancharatna krithi . I am sure you would have spotted lack of voice culture even in that hindustani aradhana. Unfortunately HM musicians always perform as a single vocalist or dual vocalist and never have this group singing which exposes the entropy. I wish like thiruvayaru aradhana we have group singing televised yearly once called varanasi hindustani aradhana and expose the entropy.

Why did you not ask one of the two kids whom you thought was most aligned in CM to sing individually - I am sure you would have had the same feeling of alignment and majestic volume .

Are you really making an apples vs apples comparison.

In general shruthi sudham of CM is highest with MMI, MS Amma , KVN , Santhanam (my top four). To me these four are comparable to say Kumar Gandharva , bhimsen joshi. May be an average HM musician is more conscious of voice than an average CM- the reason HM vocalist donot have to worry about layam which is per se another dimension for CM vocalist which he/she has to always get it right.I think thenpannan when you say Voice Culture , is it the shruthi suddham that you mean???.

I agree that few of the current crop musicians have problems in voice culture - that by itself is another whole point of discussion. Also remember there are few lovely musicians who have it which you have not mentioned .

You made a lovely post -thenpannan .Wonderful !!!
Last edited by rajeshnat on 05 Mar 2016, 11:40, edited 1 time in total.

vgovindan
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#61 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by vgovindan »

Rajesh,
Sruti Suddham is only part of voice culture. There is more to it. Please see my quote about "....all appearances of artfully prepared effect...." IMHO it is the 'depth' which speaks heart to heart. உள்ளத்தினின்றெழுவது உணர்ச்சி - உதட்டினின்றெழுவது வசனம். Former appeals to heart - the beauty; the latter appeals to head - the make up.

varsha
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#62 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

I am sure you would have spotted lack of voice culture even in that hindustani aradhana
you must be joking .Since you act like a stung present day artist .:oops: :P

Anyway
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8FZPYkMehw

varsha
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#63 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

bunch of kids or musicians sing together a hindustani bandish like pancharatna krithi
If you have not imagined hm as a solo ride around the globe , with only notes acting as stars for a compass , little else will be intelligible .
The point will always be for each system to draw from the other in small measure that suits the occasion
Which is why I will rate this as the all time best cm-hm duet till date(though instrumenta)l

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZYi4CO ... 8QjIYGbcc9

There was never a need for cm to be as fastidious as hm in voice culture. But we are speaking of times and attitudes where even hardore cm lovers are flinching.
The main that needs to be corrected is to ensure that the drone is audible before the singing starts 8-)

Nick H
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#64 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Nick H »

vgovindan wrote:Voice Culture -

"A perfect voice speaks so directly to the soul of the hearer that all appearance of artfully prepared effect is absent. Indian Classical Music is always connected with spirituality, when a vocalist of Indian Classical Music sings in correct 'tone' the whole environment becomes spiritual and soothing"

A perfectly trained voice speaks so directly to the soul of the hearer that all appearance of artfully prepared effect is absent.

There is no artfulness, no artificiality, that comes from learning to use the tools of our body (well, not necessarily, but, in my humble opinion, Western-classical voice is artificial: if anyone conversed with vibrato, they would just sound silly) and if it sounds artful/artificial, it is wrong.

But Harimau's sheeple will flock to the artificiality of simply being able to sing above the land speed record. And even that is most probably not "god-given." No one (bar a prodigy or two; insignificant numbers) ever woke up suddenly able to sing at 15 speeds. The most complimentary thing I can say about that style of performance (which seems to be the word for it) is that, yes, it must have taken a vast amount of practice and hard work. Hours, days, weeks and months of it, probably ongoing until the day those vocal cords collapse under the strain. The crowd loves that stuff. Simply being able to sing well, without strain, they don't love so much. Let those who study voice technique keep it a secret!

It is the same with any craft. The apprentice must learn the discipline, study the techniques. Did you ever meet a jeweller or even a carpenter to whom divinity was enough to practice their trade? (well, ok, I have met some such tradesmen, and chased one or two out of my house!).

thenpaanan has exactly and precisely stated the situation.

Repeating my personal feeling: music must touch my heart. Whether it is performed exquisitely well or not comes second. If the Boy Racer's music touched my heart, I could live with, enjoy even, the antics: if the stately young woman who can sing every note from hight to low with even skill did not touch my heart, then I would not stay in her concerts either.

Whether I enjoy their music or not, I remain shocked that young rising stars cannot even be heard without electronics. As I have been saying for almost twenty years now: shouldn't singers learn to sing? Thenpaanan answers the question.

Here's something else from the random-thought stack. Instrumentalists are allowed technique. They are allowed to apply science to their instruments. They are even permitted to spend lifetimes experimenting to improve the sound of those instruments. But vocalists... apparently not.

Has UKS ever stopped experimenting with the mridangam? I doubt it. Can the students of MSG explain and pass on the secrets of their fingering to their students? Surely (I'm no musician or student) the answer is yes?

Thenpaanan, I'd be very interested to know how, in these terms, you see the instrumental side of CM?

sampoorna
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#65 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by sampoorna »

Thenpaanan ... excellent post ... very articulate and relevant!

varsha
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#66 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

Indeed.Very well articulated.

SrinathK
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#67 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by SrinathK »

The truth here is that getting a pitch aligned and good tone out of a moving gamaka involves a LOT of work -- more than what it takes to achieve the same qualities in a fixed note -- after 20+ years of listening and some learning, I conclude this is without a doubt the most difficult thing to master in Carnatic Music, melodically. And yet for a music system that has been around for hundreds of years, am I supposed to believe that all we have are bits and pieces of information snatched from conversations and we still don't have a clear understanding or even a way to talk about the deepest and most unique part of our music? C<

Diverting from the thread towards western violin, here's an excerpt from Leopold Auer's "Violin playing as I teach it" -- "Often pieces far too difficult for the student's skill are assigned to him by an unwise teacher -- pieces which he is not yet prepared to master. This marks the beginning of so many of the bad habits acquired during practice. For in an effort to overcome difficulties beyond his power to vanquish the student now begins to play too fast. He is no longer capable of devoting proper attention to the correctness of his intonation, the quality of his tone, clearness in his passage-work, and thus he lays the foundation for a mode of playing void of order and balance, and a faulty technique."


In the case of CM, the words in italics are worth noting. Much of it is also applicable to the untrained CM voice.

thenpaanan
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#68 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by thenpaanan »

rajeshnat wrote:
Have you ever seen a hindustani music aradhana where bunch of kids or musicians sing together a hindustani bandish like pancharatna krithi . I am sure you would have spotted lack of voice culture even in that hindustani aradhana. Unfortunately HM musicians always perform as a single vocalist or dual vocalist and never have this group singing which exposes the entropy. I wish like thiruvayaru aradhana we have group singing televised yearly once called varanasi hindustani aradhana and expose the entropy.
I don't understand the comment. I am not referring to group singing, only individual singing. The former is an entirely separate conversation.
rajeshnat wrote: Why did you not ask one of the two kids whom you thought was most aligned in CM to sing individually - I am sure you would have had the same feeling of alignment and majestic volume .
My communication abilities were not up to the task. In the aradhanai that I referred to, the kids were singing separately as individuals or in pairs. I can assure you that there was no comparison. The difference was so immense that the audience full of parents of the same CM kids gave the HM kid thunderous applause. :-) The point is that there is appreciation without application. Those parents appreciate the capability but seemingly do not or cannot impart the same capability to their own.
rajeshnat wrote: Are you really making an apples vs apples comparison.

In general shruthi sudham of CM is highest with MMI, MS Amma , KVN , Santhanam (my top four). To me these four are comparable to say Kumar Gandharva , bhimsen joshi. May be an average HM musician is more conscious of voice than an average CM- the reason HM vocalist donot have to worry about layam which is per se another dimension for CM vocalist which he/she has to always get it right.I think thenpannan when you say Voice Culture , is it the shruthi suddham that you mean???.
Shruti shuddham is surely not enough. I am sure that if someone sang in a squeaky voice but completely aligned it would not be considered good singing. We want the sound to be rich in harmonics (among other things). For example, the touching of the tAra panchamam is considered a feat in our singing (why?). I have seen several instances where the audience claps when that happens. But at the same time it is not necessarily true that the note was sung in a suitably rich (insert your favorite quality metric here) manner. It was likely just touched or sometimes the singer has squeaked it or strained it. But we should not dwell on the defects of this singer or that. Consciously or not, generations of CM teachers have been telling their students that it is ok if you can just do that, i.e. just touch pa. The instruction is "just make sure it is not flat or sharp but exactly on note" but nowhere is there any requirement that it should sound apiece with whatever else came before and after. The overall culture does not emphasize it enough. In other words, our teachers ought to say that the high notes should not control you, rather the notes have to do your bidding.

We cannot use our top vocalists as examples to represent the music in this context. Those were gifted individuals who would have probably shone in any musical system. For us to claim that as a system CM is a good singing system, your typical CM singer has to be good. The question we have to ask is this: what have we learned from these top individuals, i.e. what was transferable from one individual to another? If no one can sing anything close to MMI or Somu or MS, either those people are completely exceptional (and hence ineligible to be used as examples for us to learn from) or we don't have a system that enables us to transfer that knowledge. To that point, we are talking about HM in this context because the average HM singer seems to be singing sweeter than the average CM singer. Another question to ask is, will your voice sound as sweet after decades of singing? If you are able to sing like a rock star in your youth but soon after your voice goes downhill, then you have merely exploited your vocal chords, not cultured them. Do our HM singers age better than our CM singers? If so we have something to learn from them on how to sing.

As to your point about layam, are we saying that because our layam is complex we are unable to use our voices well? Is it really the case that one has to come at the expense of the other?
rajeshnat wrote: I agree that few of the current crop musicians have problems in voice culture - that by itself is another whole point of discussion. Also remember there are few lovely musicians who have it which you have not mentioned .
I suspect that it is more than a few. Our system lends itself easily to hiding flaws in singing. I agree that there are more musicians who are good at their craft than the ones I listed. I was merely quoting some examples. The real question is are there enough of them to make the system as a whole better at this.
rajeshnat wrote: You made a lovely post -thenpannan .Wonderful !!!
Thanks.

-Thenpaanan

varsha
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#69 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

http://www.mediafire.com/download/v11cf ... eet_cm.mp3

the pause in the delivery , reference to the inspiration (Mah Viswanatha Iyer) and the pursuit of honey.
And a later day footprint of the bee.
Any wonder who the violnist is, in two tracks ? A loveable dealer in thEn,
A remix
Last edited by varsha on 06 Mar 2016, 11:27, edited 1 time in total.

Rsachi
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#70 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Rsachi »

Wow, such lovely long posts overnight. Am tempted to write in Twitter brevity:
Mr Thenappan!+++1
While HM and western classical music seem to emphasise the quality of sound, CM seems busy with content and grammar.
1. Listen to this:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2w7n19
2. I think voices without range, or impact, or potential, don't even make it to the stage in HM or WM.
3. In CM, voice is like only one of the nine planets in a horoscope. Others are brains, birth, brotherhood, brigha, blessings of Guru,backing, body language and blunderbuss.
4. DD Bharati has been broadcasting old videos of the Dagar maestros explaining Dhurpad singing, They knew a thing or two about the voice.

I have heard group singing in HM a few times in Blr from Sunaad (Tara Kini etc.) and Dhrupad school (Amita Mohapatra etc.) Quality of delivery was the key focus, not complicated lyrics or tala stuff.

msakella
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#71 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by msakella »

Varsha

Thanks a lot dear for kindly providing the sonorous music-recordings of 1) Madurai Somu-MSG (Mohana), 2) --------- - MSG (Mohana from 13.18) and 3) Nedunuri-MSG (Mohana & Shanmukhapriya from 14.36). amsharma

varsha
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#72 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

When we used to pull grandma's leg on this same issue after a heartening exposition of a raga, she would defend her position gently tapping us
rAgaddallO adu , anurAgaddu ( effect is not due to the rAga , but the love behind it )

varsha
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#73 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

(Mohana from 13.18)
That was a small clip of Mah Viswanatha Iyer Sir.

sampoorna
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#74 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by sampoorna »

I believe that this excerpt of Thenpaanan is very relevant in today's world, not just for CM or music but for teachers everywhere:

<begin quote>
For us to claim that as a system CM is a good singing system, your typical CM singer has to be good. The question we have to ask is this: what have we learned from these top individuals, i.e. what was transferable from one individual to another? If no one can sing anything close to MMI or Somu or MS, either those people are completely exceptional (and hence ineligible to be used as examples for us to learn from) or we don't have a system that enables us to transfer that knowledge.
<end quote>

and so is this quote by SrinathK:

<begin quote>
Diverting from the thread towards western violin, here's an excerpt from Leopold Auer's "Violin playing as I teach it" -- "Often pieces far too difficult for the student's skill are assigned to him by an unwise teacher -- pieces which he is not yet prepared to master. This marks the beginning of so many of the bad habits acquired during practice. For in an effort to overcome difficulties beyond his power to vanquish the student now begins to play too fast. He is no longer capable of devoting proper attention to the correctness of his intonation, the quality of his tone, clearness in his passage-work, and thus he lays the foundation for a mode of playing void of order and balance, and a faulty technique."
<end quote>

As teachers, can we make a mark by pushing up the average competence, of course without sacrificing the brightest (who usually are capable of taking care of themselves)? The confusion arises when we are always comparing with the "bests" like MS, Einstein, etc. Why? Let us see what a teacher should do:

A teacher of "this world":
The duty of a teacher in this world is the "transfer of knowledge" by using systematic well documented methods and proper discipline. The teacher should be able to clearly communicate techniques that allow the student to use his/her five senses to achieve concrete, measurable results.

A teacher of "spiritual world":
The duty of a teacher is again "transfer of knowledge" and in the spiritual world it is by using "sushrusha" or just observing/imbibing/loving/being devoted to (and so much more) the guru. In the spiritual world, one is trying to go beyond the senses. Hence the only method is for the guru to demonstrate by example. There is nothing to be communicated using the five senses. It is for the student to imbibe that which is beyond the senses.

The problem now-a-days is that we still want to use techniques of our "spiritual teachers" while desiring results of "this world". It will only work for the "exceptional". It is easy to use techniques of "spiritual teachers" in the modern world because it is more of a "I'll demonstrate, you copy, and by the way, don't question me about anything I do" without any real-world guidelines. A true spiritual teacher is not for the masses in the way we see today, and their techniques are completely different - besides they have to be realized themselves and we also have to be realized enough to recognize them!

I believe that as teachers we should recognize the difference and do right by the students. Being a teacher is a great responsibility and teachers should make the differentiation.

This discussion and the comments so far have been great. Thank you everyone.

vgovindan
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#75 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by vgovindan »

varsha,
'anurAga' - what a word and uttered with what simplicity! - the true meaning of which will need search of scores of years of sincere toil.

Sampoorna,
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said this to Vivekananda - 'I used to shout to Mother to send me a worthy student'

kaThOpanishad - I.ii.7
SravaNAyApi bahubhiryO na labhyaH
SRNvantO(a)pi bahavO yaM na vidyuH |
AScaryO vaktA kuSalO(a)sya labdhA-
AScaryO jnAtA kuSalAnuSishTaH ||

Of that (Self) which is not available for the mere hearing to many, (and) which many do not understand even while hearing, the expounder is wonderful and the receiver is wonderful; wonderful is he who knows under the instruction of an adept.
(Translation by Swami Gambhirananda)

Substitute 'self' with 'anurAga' - that is the essence of 'self'.

SrinathK
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#76 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by SrinathK »

Some of my top picks are : ARI, MMI, Santhanam, KVN, MS, Brinda, GNB (on a really good day), TVS of the older era. TMK & Ranjani Gayatri are my favourites as well.

But we should note, there is always going to be a part of that voice that you are either blessed or cursed to be born with.

I should add though, that in other cultures of music, cultivation of good tone is a basic necessity : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5KoZGVAr0w

thenpaanan
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#77 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by thenpaanan »

Nick H wrote:
But Harimau's sheeple will flock to the artificiality of simply being able to sing above the land speed record. And even that is most probably not "god-given." No one (bar a prodigy or two; insignificant numbers) ever woke up suddenly able to sing at 15 speeds. The most complimentary thing I can say about that style of performance (which seems to be the word for it) is that, yes, it must have taken a vast amount of practice and hard work. Hours, days, weeks and months of it, probably ongoing until the day those vocal cords collapse under the strain. The crowd loves that stuff. Simply being able to sing well, without strain, they don't love so much. Let those who study voice technique keep it a secret!
Well said. "Land speed record". I have to remember that. In my interaction with a dozen CM teachers, only two have told me to slow down. Even if the teachers would not necessary egg me to go faster, they would not stop me if I went faster. Thinking back now, it was quite ridiculous.
Nick H wrote: Repeating my personal feeling: music must touch my heart. Whether it is performed exquisitely well or not comes second. If the Boy Racer's music touched my heart, I could live with, enjoy even, the antics: if the stately young woman who can sing every note from hight to low with even skill did not touch my heart, then I would not stay in her concerts either.
"Music that touches the heart" -- there in lies the entire mystery of it all. There is no formula for that.
Nick H wrote: Whether I enjoy their music or not, I remain shocked that young rising stars cannot even be heard without electronics.
I don't want to be a scold when it comes to these things, so let's take a positive tack on it, shall we? I just came back from a concert of Amrutha Venkatesh. I have the utmost respect for her craft and I think she is one of the best of the young singers, but I could not tell for sure if I would be able to hear at all if the amplifier and speaker were not present (I was in the third row). Here she was -- singing with great control and great content -- I enjoyed it immensely and yet I was thinking her music would be immeasurably greater if she sang with a full voice (dare I say it, if she sang more like a HM singer). Of course there will be many who will say "what she is singing is good enough, why ask for more" or "if she sang like someone else it will be totally ruined." Who knows. Perhaps they will be right. But somehow I feel we are missing out on something big.
Nick H wrote: Here's something else from the random-thought stack. Instrumentalists are allowed technique. They are allowed to apply science to their instruments. They are even permitted to spend lifetimes experimenting to improve the sound of those instruments. But vocalists... apparently not.

Has UKS ever stopped experimenting with the mridangam? I doubt it. Can the students of MSG explain and pass on the secrets of their fingering to their students? Surely (I'm no musician or student) the answer is yes?

Thenpaanan, I'd be very interested to know how, in these terms, you see the instrumental side of CM?
I am not as familiar with instrumentalists' progress simply because I don't play any instruments (save for a few years trying to learn mridangam). The only instrument with which I have even a passing familiarity is the violin because my brother used to play. What I have surmised from conversations with him and others (even on this forum) is that the three violin greats TNK-LGJ-MSG have pretty much revolutionized how the carnatic violin is played. What I have inferred from my own listening is that fingering techniques have improved enormously in the last two generations. Bowing technique not so much. If you listen to even junior artists on the violin today, the quality is quite impressive. What I suspect has also happened is that expectations have risen enormously as well as a result of the generations after the big three -- the likes of VVS, Kanyakumari, Narmada, just to name a few, have made sure that the expectations don't die down and as a result the jump in quality is now self-sustaining.

As for whether the violinists have been open to learning from other systems, I suspect the answer is yes though no one ever told me explicitly. One leading violinist I was hosting many years ago asked me to take him to a musical instruments shop. I thought he was interested in acquiring a new violin. Instead he was actually interested in selling his violin! He claimed that he had a Strad! The shop owner looked inside the violin and said it may very well be a Strad except that the violin obviously had been modified with metal tuning studs (I forget the technical term). Then followed a deep discussion about Strad violins which I could not follow. Clearly this violinist knew his violin! Later on, when I asked this violinist about what all he has tried to learn, he told me that he has even tried to play for films in the background scores -- I asked him why and his answer was not what I was expecting (seeking money or fame). He said he wanted to check if his violin playing was up to par! He wanted to know if there was something to violin playing that he could learn from them. What a great attitude! Here was a violinist well on his way to the evening slots in the music season and he was trying to learn from other systems, presumably because he felt he had learned all that he could from carnatic violinists. Very inspiring.

I don't know if this is typical or atypical among Carnatic violinists. But to answer your question directly, I feel that violinists have been more open to learning from external sources. I think they can learn more from the West in bowing technique. No matter what anyone might say about the carnatic greats, I still feel that the sheer sound of an un-amplified Western violin is still leagues ahead. Just hearing them play a "sa" during the tuning setup in an orchestra practice can make your hair stand. But I am not a violin player so I may be speaking from ignorance.

As for other instrumentalists, I have no idea if veena players have imbibed sitar technique or whether guitar technique is even relevant. I do see lots of people (e.g. Jayanti Kumaresh) who talk very cogently about veena technique, so I presume that there is progress being made in imbibing knowledge from other systems but cannot say for sure. Flute and other instruments are way beyond my knowledge. As for mridangam, I have personally come across technological innovation aplenty -- metal tuning aids, fiberglass bodies, imbibing techniques from tabla etc.

All this shows up our vocalists in a particularly poor light. Where is the discussion on vocal technique? I have not seem a single panel discussion about how to sing. Again and again we see hagiographies of the great singers of the past. One exception is a DVD by SAK Durga where she actually talks to her students in a mock lesson setup about how to sing. She says for example that is easier to sing the "ee" vowel in the higher registers and "aa" vowel in the lower registers so she counsels that when singing alapana, a student should prefer the correct vowel depending on the part of the octave (actually which part of her vocal range she is in). I don't agree with everything Vid. Durga says but it is ok to disagree -- and that is the kind of discussion we need to have. There was some talk in this forum about head voice. There is I think a wrong understanding of what head voice is. To give an example, if you remember the young ARI or the young GNB when they sang at 4 kattai, they are using pure head voice. Nothing wrong in that, is there? The difficulty in singing in 1-1.5 kattai for male vocalists is that one has to use both head and chest voices but the head voice/chest voice bridge is very challenging. Western singers of all stripes spend a lot of time in their early education and careers mastering the "bridge". We don't. So we end up straining our voices when we go up into the tAra sthayi and quite unnecessarily so.

-Thenpaanan

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#78 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by vasanthakokilam »

but I could not tell for sure if I would be able to hear at all if the amplifier and speaker were not present
We can extrapolate a bit from this.. though It is a small hall....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zE5lw2tfIFk

The interesting thing about the observation that western voice training lessons are not being taught to CM students is that we can not put forth the idea that those are not available to the teachers and students of CM. In most every other fields in sports, science and arts there is no such wall. Indian painters are very good at Japanese painting techniques for example. I personally have learned some flute techniques from western flute teachers on YouTube. Body training for sports is big business in India and a lot of the techniques were adaptations of what they learned in the west. There are certain things that are just pure techniques which transcend the genre of a particular field. And to make a ridiculous point for effect, a B.Sc. physics student does not refrain from learning experimental techniques of quantum physics that have perfected in the West. :) ( in fact, Indians contribute to those things enormously. Such techniques of Science belong to the whole world, notions like western science etc are long gone )

So, if there is a competitive advantage to be gained, CM vocal aspirants should use whatever technique that has been unearthed elsewhere to their advantage. Just when I was writing this, I did a 10 second search about what they teach about 'voice' in a community college nearby me. This is what I got: http://www.cod.edu/academics/conted/mus ... _bios.aspx Quite impressive for a community college that does not even award bachelors degree. Not just that, anyone in the community, young or old, 7 to 70 so to say, can register and learn from these teachers. ( I wonder if voice teachers Meyer, Murphy, Williams et al conduct Skype classes :) )

We have talked about what CM people have to learn from others. Do we know if others have picked up anything from CM, technique wise? Or we are at the bottom of barrel in that department that it does not even make sense to wonder about that?

shankarank
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#79 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by shankarank »

thenpaanan wrote: If no one can sing anything close to MMI or Somu or MS, either those people are completely exceptional (and hence ineligible to be used as examples for us to learn from) or we don't have a system that enables us to transfer that knowledge.
madurai kArarA saar nINga - unga pEra pArtA appadi tOnutu - adhu mInAkshi kaTAksham saar ! madhura vANi saar :)

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#80 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by shankarank »

As for fiber glass bodies for Mridangam- biodegradability/carbon foot print vs trees being cut is one hard environmentalist's conundrum to resolve. May be biodegradable fiberglass will resolve it.

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#81 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by shankarank »

I think the bANi originalism pressure forced many musicians to strain and create something new ( the western idea of creativity) instead of first attempting to present the beauty of the past and organically evolve newness - which has much to do with this issue with some leading musicians straining their voices. This pressure itself was demanded by a society that was under the influence of this new creativity mania.

The above is more prevalent in Mridangam - where you are not supposed to play like masters even if you have the abilities - with the present sorry state of it.

In addition - most gifted musicians seem to have developed comfort with the laya of the compositions and the musical idiom in general. So if their voice and breathing are at various degrees of efficiency at different times - they could use this comfort to deliver the best.

Then the issue of pedagogy vs performance. The need to improvise all the sangatIs in the paTantara with the auditors ( the so called pundits) keeping count. We should take this back to the pedagogy itself. Why not limit the pATam to very basic sangatIs and let students get comfortable with the laya of the compositions first. If Sri Nedunuri will take 10 years to add a sangati ( source Malladi brothers in a conversation) - why not let students to develop this over the years and see if they comeback with a new one - even if it is unacceptable. For every new one they come back with - a new one from the pATAntaram must be taught.

varsha
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#82 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RhmAe4vJLg
a treasure for a lifetime. Dont miss listening to and downloading. Whether one understands the spoken word or not.See how he shies away from demonstrating the "techniques" of voice modulation.This secrecy aspect is well documented in the context of nurturing gharanas.

Nick H
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#83 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Nick H »

Thenpaanan, fascinating reply... thank you!

Knowingly or not, you hit upon the exact young woman that I had in my thoughts in my earlier post. I have to admit that I have never heard her sing without a microphone, but I do notice the even quality of her delivery, and the fact that it appears to be completely without strain of any kind, even at the extremes of her range. I can think of others who more or less, meet that criterion too, and sing most beautifully with wonderful tone, but it just happens that, two or three years ago, I asked Amrutha Venkatesh if she had ever learnt or studied any voice technique outside of Carnatic music, and she said that she had. The conversation was that short, so I cannot say what, or how much, who, why or where she did this. Probably it might have gone beyond my understanding quite quickly if we had gone further. My experience is only that gained from some amateur dramatics in my teens --- but we had to be audible at the back of the hall, and those small-town community halls had no better acoustics than most of our carnatic venues.

So far as the indefinable magic is concerned, I think it likely that my favourite and revered singer could probably not be heard without a microphone. In her youth? I have no idea: those here with 60 years of concert-going experience can answer. Either way, the magic is still there.

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#84 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by vasanthakokilam »

Nick, Amrutha said in one interview ( it was in Tamil ) that what she gets from Rama Varma is to make her music multi-dimensional. I am going by memory now, but she said he asks her to listen to select Hindi film songs to get some aspects of voice, Hindustani as well and Western Classical on stage decorum etc. I am sure the gestalt of that is quite profound and can not be explained through such piece parts but at least it gives us an idea on what she gets out of being a disciple of Rama Varma. So whatever she told you may be something related to that.

But then in one of the Amritha concert review topic member 'Purist' observed that her change in voice technique is very noticeable but Purist seemed to be of the opinion that it is not full throated, seemed to be artificially constrained and so less desirable from a CM point of view ( I am paraphrasing ).

thenpaanan
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#85 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by thenpaanan »

Nick H wrote:Thenpaanan, fascinating reply... thank you!

Knowingly or not, you hit upon the exact young woman that I had in my thoughts in my earlier post. I have to admit that I have never heard her sing without a microphone, but I do notice the even quality of her delivery, and the fact that it appears to be completely without strain of any kind, even at the extremes of her range. I can think of others who more or less, meet that criterion too, and sing most beautifully with wonderful tone, but it just happens that, two or three years ago, I asked Amrutha Venkatesh if she had ever learnt or studied any voice technique outside of Carnatic music, and she said that she had. The conversation was that short, so I cannot say what, or how much, who, why or where she did this.
I wish I had seen your post earlier. I tried to see if I could catch her here in Phoenix but sadly she has already left for her next engagement. Because of my last encounter with a young musician (see "pasta vs uppuma" quote earlier) I am generally hesitant to ask visiting artists these questions. Who knows, may be Ms. Venkatesh would have had a different response. Hopefully there is a next time.
Nick H wrote:
Probably it might have gone beyond my understanding quite quickly if we had gone further. My experience is only that gained from some amateur dramatics in my teens --- but we had to be audible at the back of the hall, and those small-town community halls had no better acoustics than most of our carnatic venues.
This is what I tell whoever cares to listen. See how the singers at the beginning of baseball games sing the American National Anthem? The mics are only available in big venues and stadiums. In most schools and small venues, the singer is on her/his own. And they can be heard clearly right to the top of the bleachers. And not just heard, you can actually understand the words being sung even at that distance.

This was likely the case even with Carnatic singers of yore before the microphone era. Perhaps that was the reason for the 4 kattai sruthi for male vocalists. Mr. Kalidas has averred in one of his lectures that perhaps nuances could not be heard at that sruthi but we cannot say for sure since there are few recordings in the open auditoriums from that era. Thus, being heard at a distance is not an unknown requirement to CM historically but, like the Indus Valley's public sanitation, we seem to have lost all memory of those skills.
Nick H wrote: So far as the indefinable magic is concerned, I think it likely that my favourite and revered singer could probably not be heard without a microphone. In her youth? I have no idea: those here with 60 years of concert-going experience can answer. Either way, the magic is still there.
Absolutely. I am definitely not of the opinion that there is no magic in Carnatic Music today. It is the music that I love and cherish and to the end of my days I will be grateful to my parents for pushing a very very reluctant ten year old boy into a music class with what seemed like a million little girls. :-)

But whenever there is opportunity to improve, we should. We have to keep striving.

-Thenpaanan

Nick H
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#86 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Nick H »

vasanthakokilam wrote:But then in one of the Amritha concert review topic member 'Purist' observed that her change in voice technique is very noticeable but Purist seemed to be of the opinion that it is not full throated, seemed to be artificially constrained and so less desirable from a CM point of view ( I am paraphrasing ).
I didn't name names, originally, because it tends not to be good for threads like this, but perhaps you might have seen forum member SureshVV's comments on this lady. His views are much the same as mine, but are made from the background of a real music/rasika education. That is not to say that I lack confidence in my own assessments, but it is always nice when they are confirmed by someone in the know --- or, at least, more in the know than I am. He has also seen her much more often than I have in the past couple of years. We were both at her concert here a few weeks ago.

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#87 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by vasanthakokilam »

Nick, Yes, personally where Amritha is right now and how she sings is just fine by me and I am a big fan. I was pointing out the expectations by other CM rasikas. What we consider good in voice may be perceived as artificial by others in CM circles. Member Purist is quite respectful of those who like her current voice while mentioning that. Just like with most everything there are multiple preferences when it comes to tastes in aesthetics

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#88 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by thenpaanan »

varsha wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RhmAe4vJLg
a treasure for a lifetime. Dont miss listening to and downloading. Whether one understands the spoken word or not.See how he shies away from demonstrating the "techniques" of voice modulation.This secrecy aspect is well documented in the context of nurturing gharanas.
What a treasure! Thanks, Varshaji. Secrecy of this sort is something that we just have to live with -- we cannot dictate our legacy.

But I found especially absorbing his demonstration of using a different voice for thumris (starting 5:15). I did not realize that this is a well-studied and systematic action to change voice when singing compositions of a different genre (khayal vs thumri here). I had thought people just did it without thinking by imitation of their gurus. Wonderful to learn that there is more depth in that particular lake of knowledge.

I have always wondered if something like this was not going on in CM as well. When I tried to learn a padam "varattum swami" (a particularly rare one in Saveri for which I have not yet managed to find a recording) it was an absolute failure (and eventually abandoned) because the teacher kept saying that I was not using my voice properly -- that the padam needed the filigree work of a gold jeweler whereas I was being a blacksmith (no disrespect to blacksmiths!). I did not and do not yet understand if it is an absolute change of voice that is needed or just a temporary one (if temporary, would that sound "artificial"?). Is there an equivalent to the thumri voice that Khan sahab is referring to here that we can use to sing a padam? Is it possible that the entire way of singing that Brinda-Mukta and others in that tradition use so effectively (and everyone not trained in that tradition finds so mysterious) is in fact an example of this bifurcation of vocal technique?

As for Khan sahab refusing to give details, I wonder if he would be able to even if he wanted to. Some of the basic details are learned in childhood -- e.g. one does not remember how one learned to be in "sur", how does one tell someone else how to be on pitch then?

Thanks again for the wonderful pointer. It can be enjoyed on so many levels (one of them being the language that the Ustad speaks here).

-Thenpaanan

varsha
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#89 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

I did not realize that this is a well-studied and systematic action to change voice when singing compositions of a different genre (khayal vs thumri here). I had thought people just did it without thinking by imitation of their gurus. Wonderful to learn that there is more depth in that particular lake of knowledge.
http://www.mediafire.com/download/rdpam ... lkauns.mp3

http://www.mediafire.com/download/7x05r ... oncert.MP3

varsha
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#90 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »


isramesh
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#91 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by isramesh »

http://www.rasikas.org/forums/viewtopic ... 96#p298191
Lecdem by BMK on voice culture and modulation. Certain things mentioned therein may be linked to the reasons behind the topic of this thread.

shankarank
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#92 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by shankarank »

If this is a convincing Puriya Dhanashree - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ9sCHXnWps, it may tell us why HM sounds sweeter ;)

The attenuation of the cups makes for the meend :P

varsha
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#93 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

it may tell us why HM sounds sweeter
further proof with same artist
https://archive.org/details/Malkauns_201607
As some one said about the secret of making a great rhubarb pie
Take sugar as indicated in the recipe and.........Double it before adding :)

varsha
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#94 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

https://archive.org/details/AUD20160726WA0000
from whatsapp
why sweeter ? why ? why ???
sruthi !!! sruthi !!! sruthi !!!
less and less of brain
more and more of heart ;)

thenpaanan
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#95 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by thenpaanan »

varsha wrote:https://archive.org/details/AUD20160726WA0000
from whatsapp
why sweeter ? why ? why ???
sruthi !!! sruthi !!! sruthi !!!
less and less of brain
more and more of heart ;)
Varshaji

Thanks for posting this wonderful clip. May I ask who the singer is?

You have asked the question, why is this sweeter? I don't think it is just sruthi but sruthi is certainly a big part of it. Here is my attempt at an answer to this vexing question.

1. Sruthi shuddham is critical but not enough. Most top Carnatic musicians are in sruthi most of the time. That they may go off occasionally or worse is not the major factor I think. I have heard Hindustani musicians go off sur as well (not nearly as often) but that did not seem to detract from their sweetness. Carnatic musicians seem to have flashes of sweetness but it does not sustain.
2. A singer must have sweetness as a priority but it is most often not the case in our musicians. Of all the points in a Carnatic concert the easiest place to be sweet is in an alapana since the singer controls what is being sung. You might hear bits of sweetness here and there but soon the demand of performance asserts itself, which means fast or complex passages, emphasizing the "vidwat" over the sound itself. The sweetness disappears like water poured on sand. This is perhaps what you meant by heart over head?
3. Carnatic singing sounds very strained. Arguably a basic quality for sweetness is a sense of relaxation, sometimes referred to as "sowkhyam". This is something that eludes almost all Carnatic musicians. In my listening even the great KVN achieved this only in late life (e.g. sAramaina in behAg). This is not to demean or criticize his singing. It was just that this aspect was perhaps was not his highest priority. The great MDR achieved more often than not but even he could not consistently bring sweetness to his voice. Madurai Mani was perhaps the best exponent of sweetness that Carnatic music ever had. His "last concert" is unbelievable in the level of sweetness. He was the one who could consistently and predictably sound sweet. This leads me to believe that sweetness is not tied to the pace of the music but something else. Singing in vilamba kalam is not necessary, though it may help sometimes. But sowkhyam is not sufficient either. You need strong volume and resonance at the same time and across the range. Listen to the side by side singing of BMK and Bhimsen in their jugalbandhis. Arguably BMK is leagues ahead of the rest in Carnatic music in the voice department and yet pales beside BJ because BJ is able to bring his power and resonance across the entire range of octaves.
4. Richness of tone is necessary. But the focus in Carnatic music is to hit a note or a gamakam correctly, i.e. correct pitch and swing. Generations of students have But no one ever talks about making the sound rich with overtones. Generally speaking, achieving richness seems almost a lost art in Carnatic voice production. There are exceptions but they are rare. BMK and MDR are the obvious exceptions. Then there are people like K J Yesudas who have richness in their voice but for some reason don't use it to the fullest extent when singing Carnatic music (see, for example, the difference in his voice when he sings "jab deep jale aanaa"). Or Madurai Somu who could sound extremely rich one moment and flat another. His 'ennakavi pAdinAlum' is a wonder to hear. Even singers like DKJ showed richness in their voice in limited parts of their range (listen, for example, to DKJ at the beginning of "ekkAlathilum" in nAttaikurinji) but no where do you get the idea that there is deliberate effort to achieve the rich tone. So there is no predictability. What would it sound like if Jagjit Singh had sung Carnatic music?
5. There is perhaps a feeling that a rich tone is forbidden in Carnatic music. This idea is disproved in recordings of vidwans before the modern era. ARI sounds quite rich in some recordings but not all. I cannot tell whether it is him or the fault of the recording equipment. The early GNB had a ringing voice that he lost over time. Even MLV in the modern era had a spectacularly resonant voice that she did not keep up. There was a recording floating around of a Raja Iyengar (?) who seemed to have a rich singing voice. But there was no second recording to compare. Some musicians like Musiri have had a reputation of having a sweet voice but I did not find the recordings particularly sweet sounding. But that may be a flaw in the recording technology of the time.

Do we suffer from an inferiority complex that keeps us from openly accepting that we sorely lack in this department, I don't know. I do know that when a rich tone is combined with Carnatic music the magic is simply unbelievable. My western voice coach sometimes sings snatches of my kriti to show how to improve my singing. And very often I am simply stunned at how good he sounds. Once I was singing a Todi kriti and he interrupted me to correct my soft palate position and he sang the line I had just sung. I was so enjoying the moment that it was hard to let it go, so I asked him sing some more and he said "But I don't know what I am singing!"
6. There are many simple things that are possible to do to improve one's tone. Enunciation, voice support, relaxation of the larynx, etc. And none of those keep one from singing in an authentic Carnatic sound. Perhaps we just don't care enough.

But something like a sweet sounding human voice cannot be reduced to a few parameters. You may none of the above and yet have a wonderfully sweet voice. This is just my attempt to describe some parameters that may work for a large number of singers, perhaps not all.

-Thenpaanan

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#96 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by varsha »

May I ask who the singer is?
Suresh Wadkar
Thanks for the post

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#97 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by rajeshnat »

Thenpaanan
MMI is the sweetest . Even maharajapuram santhanam comes very close with his sweetness and then perhaps is KVN. I am assuming the sweetness is to hold pitch comfortably (vilamba or durita kalam does not matter) . The shifting of gamakas intertwined with different octaves should have no strain - your ears have to get a continuous sinusoidal experience to get the sweetness.Your post is great.

Rsachi
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#98 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Rsachi »

Thenappan has said many beautiful things while listing the factors. Congratulations!

I feel that also, Carnatic music is less sweet because of a dominance of Sahitya where correct pronunciation of words is more important than sounding sweet. Even Sanskrit scriptural recitation done with correct intonation is not sweet but effective as defined. Of course some lyrics are by the very nature of words sweet. The best examples are the lyrics in BJ's Saalokyam and Vatsalyam albums -links shared by me before.

Finally it is also a mindset issue, I think. If you are a footballer (=CM), you are less bothered about posture and flow than if you are a ballet dancer (=HM). The best of HM in terms of correctness=sweetness as defined there is I think Dhrupad. Many great examples have been shared here by Varsha and others.

This thread is wonderful. We are perhaps all saying the same thing in so many different ways and sharing examples.

thenpaanan
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#99 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by thenpaanan »

Rsachi wrote:
I feel that also, Carnatic music is less sweet because of a dominance of Sahitya where correct pronunciation of words is more important than sounding sweet. Even Sanskrit scriptural recitation done with correct intonation is not sweet but effective as defined. Of course some lyrics are by the very nature of words sweet. The best examples are the lyrics in BJ's Saalokyam and Vatsalyam albums -links shared by me before.
I used to think the same. That our languages are consonant heavy and so harder to sing with. Paradoxically my voice coach insists that I pronounce the words very clearly and hit the syllables hard. For example, I have been learning to sing "bhajare re chitta" in Kalyani with his help and he insists that I hit every syllable very sharply (it is hard to describe the effect) -- no slurring allowed whatsoever. For the ma and pa consonants that I was expressing fleetingly barely touching my lips, he made me explode those consonants with my lips. Similarly the ka's and ga's have to be dug out, the Ta has to be hard, the difference between the vowel 'a' in bhaja and the 'A' in bAlAmbikA should be very pronounced, etc -- indeed everything that Sanskrit grammar insists on and that we ignore while singing. The effect of the explosive enunciation, at least to my ears, has been very good. I also find that it is actually easier to correctly produce the vowel that follows the consonant if you do it this way. In other words if you explode the "bh" then the "a" that follows in the "bha-ja-re" sounds better.

I have heard independently from speech pathologists that the most efficient way to speak in a mechanical sense is to speak like BBC broadcasters who enunciate their consonants very crisply. Each consonant is said very abruptly but explosively. I was surprised when I heard that the first time but I have now heard the same thing from several sources.

So, in summary, I don't think it is about the language either -- pronunciation has an effect but kind of opposite to what we commonly believe.

-T

Rsachi
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#100 Re: Why HM sounds sweeter

Post by Rsachi »

Thenappan,
I agree about all the rules of pronunciation. I always preferred the sharp enunciations of BBC and German radio. I hate the Indian "dingo" way of slurring over r's and such.

But in any music, more lyrics, more lyrics with sharp enunciations will reduce the "sweetness" factor. Take the example of Opera. The singers all sound maybe more musical but definitely less sweet when they sing heavy lyrics appropriate to that moment and role in the drama. I will dig up some examples soon and share...

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