Following is my rejoinder for the articles “A Navroz by any other name…” by Baradwaj Rangan dated 23rd Dec and “Give Carnatic music a chance” by Swaroop Mamidipudi dated 30th Dec.
During music season, it is overwhelming to see the number of musicians and number of concerts, so is the number of writers and critics. I feel that people with good writing skills think they can write anything under the sky, including carnatic music without having a sense for this genre.
In this kind of articles, it has become customary to compare the carnatic music viz western music or hindusthani music as well as compare carnatic music rasikas viz western music lovers. First of all, why should carnatic music to be compared with western music, when apples and oranges are not to be compared? In this comparison exercise, the writers try to brand the carnatic music rasikas as if they are the trouble makers in any concert. May be film directors like Balachandar can exaggerate by portraying a rasika checking the diamond ear-ring of another rasikas during a concert, just for the sake of exaggeration. But in reality no such things happen. If rasikas are portrayed as trouble makers then it is nothing but a cliché.
It is often written that most of the rasikas hinder the concert by their activities like identifying the ragas through hand books and by discussing with the neighbors. In what way a concert is obstructed if a rasikas refers to a raga identification guide silently? What is wrong in identifying the raga, when the rasikas hears for the first time as long as they don’t make noise? Don’t we try to identify and appreciate when a new sweet is served in the meal? When a rasika is able to identify a new raga, he/she tries to put in his/her memory and appreciate the same when it is sung for the next time. Also they would like to discuss about the new raga with their friends and families. What is wrong in it? If we stipulate that a rasika has to keep quiet whatever is sung during the concert, the concerts would become mechanical and the artists will lose motivation.
It is also often complained that carnatic music rasikas interrupt the concert by their intermittent applause, whereas the audience in a western concert give a standing ovation only at the end of the concert. It has to be remembered that Carnatic music unlike western music is full of mano-dharma and the sangathis come spontaneously from the artists and they need to be acknowledged and appreciated then and there by a ‘bale’ or ‘sabash’. No carnatic musician has made a complaint about this so far. In fact, most of them would like to see nodding heads among the audience and expect some kind of ‘bale’ and ‘besh’ at appropriate time to get motivated. If the rasikas keep quiet with a robotic look, the entire event will become prosaic.
The next thing being discussed is the tonal quality and other aspects of sound engineering. True, if it is recorded music. One would expect a flawless music with absolute tonal quality in his/her collection of DVDs and Blue-ray discs. But we need to remember that the carnatic rasikas come for a live concert to enjoy the mano-dharma aspect of the live concert and is not bothered about some lapses in the tonal aesthetics.
It is mentioned that people all over the world instantly connect with and recognize the Ninth Symphony or the Turkish March, but that hardly true for the Pancharathna Krithis for instance. Need not be true. I may not get connected with Ninth Symphony as I don’t have any sense towards western classical.
Also mentioned that a good Dhanyasi or Ahiri can melt even the most non-musical of souls. Very true, but It is not possible for the listener to appreciate the intricacies of the Dhanyasi or Ahiri unless he/she has a sense of appreciation for that this genre of art. When it is said that Carnatic music facing stiff competition, it is a sweeping statement. Carnatic music is growing and will be eternal, since many young artists take this as full-time profession.
Let the critics and bloggers write articles on Carnatic music after making an effort to understand this great elite and classical art. Let them not make sweeping statements and false judgments.