The definition of music consists of phrases like melody, aesthetics, enjoyment and related feelings. We are saying, ‘it’s music to the ears’ when one thing is nice. Carnatic music, nevertheless, is seeing the creeping affect of a muscular and strong model of singing which will problem these definitions. It’s now par for the course to be loud, over-enthusiastic, imperious and vigorous, which all appear to be advocated as surrogates for liveliness and power. For instance, a thunderous high-speed, protracted niraval for just a few ‘avartanams’ with largely repetitive phrases however rendered with punch and aggression is frequent now — however fairly antithetic to the great thing about many ragas. But, it’s a method perpetrated from seniors to rising stars. The next phrases are actually in peril of being edged out — softness, finesse, grace, refinement and polish, poise and restraint. Should you put these phrases collectively, you’ll perceive the distinction that I’m referring to. In actual fact, the gentler and quieter the music, the extra its energy to raise the soul.
What are a few of the unlucky penalties of this? Live performance objectives shift from viewers enjoyment to gung-ho demonstration, from a soothing expertise to bombardment, and from pleasing vocal music to vocal workout routines for showmanship. Some vocalists are eager to point out their scale vary by ‘trying’ upper-octave panchamam or greater, regardless of the way it sounds. Some use harsh tones in raga alapanas, the ‘tu tu tu’ and so forth borrowed from an alien vocabulary. Relying on the rank of the vocalist, the transgressions into melody-less areas are self-guided and even self-adjudicated. The meandering swaras, the unaesthetic sangathis (typically a results of poor manufacturing somewhat than the swara construction), and the breathless workout routines typically deliver the temper to one in every of cacophony. If not these, then one witnesses unwelcome types of physique language and even irreverence. Audio techniques and percussionists have develop into co-conspirators as nicely. Thank god, most violinists nonetheless pursue candy melody.
So, who can we blame if this development will get out of hand? Senior vocalists personal the accountability to bequeath balanced presentation methods as has been completed in earlier eras. As they develop into position fashions, they should introspect if their quest for muscular dominance is eroding the music’s elementary magnificence. Percussion assist shouldn’t be merely about noise manufacturing — both via audio amplification or model — however subtly mixing with and supporting the primary music. You solely have to hearken to half-a-dozen stalwarts of the 60s and 70s to understand that impact. Pauses are as essential as strokes. However has that been forgotten?
The usage of kalapramanam is one other advantageous artwork. Most timeless kritis include a slender band of allowance for kalapramana variations. The frenzy and rush to present audiences some sort of ‘jolt’ is neither aesthetic nor respectful to the kriti’s creators. I as soon as heard the Arabhi Andal Pasuram, ‘Ongi ulakalanda’, sung with huge energy and pressure that dwarfed the truth that Andal was a 12-year-old woman whose prattling sought Krishna’s love. The temper was utterly incongruent. Is that why the efficiency of latest, unheard-of kritis is on the rise? Maybe they provide extra leeway? Lastly, massive crowds and followings could also be misunderstood as full endorsement of the musician’s craft. Nevertheless it’s typically solely a recognition for the singer’s higher elements; the viewers by no means speaks however switches abruptly sooner or later.
One of the full musicians of a earlier period, Palghat Okay. V. Narayanaswamy, as soon as responded to a query on what lifts music with the phrase sowkhyam. Vocalists have to mirror on their melody quotient and recalibrate. Gusto and machismo are usually not suited to Carnatic music. By the way, this affliction has not entered Hindustani music. With good motive.
The author specialises
in Carnatic music.