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11 comments | Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hi all,

I know, Its been almost more a month or a bit more than that since I wrote my last blog. have been keeping myself really busy with getting used to my new workplace and getting started with my project assignments and stuff. Amidst all these came this opportunity to sing for AIR Thruvananthapuram (I am a B-High vocalist with AIR TVPM since 2000). The last time I gave a performance at AIR was in 2003. Its mainly due to the fact that I live in bangalore now, and also the address that the AIR folks have is mega outdated (My fault :)) . Okay, coming to the main reason why I wanted to write this blog.

I have been learning carnatic music vocal ever since I was 4. My family is deeply interested in the carnatic music flavour and my grandparents (especially my grandfather ) are very religious followers of the traditional or 'sampradayam' way of carnatic music rendition. My initial training days, I learnt the keerthanams, varnams, padams, jaavalis all in the fixed format that my teacher used to teach me and I also remember the 3 sangathis (some times 4) that I need to sing where each sangathi needs to be repeated twice and the pallavi to be ended in a pre planned fashion. same with anupallavi and charanam. I was told that this is the structure of this particular song. As time passed, I could give a few concerts, a few more, and a few more... I kept singing the keerthanams as taught to me by my master... I sounded good, dint sing too many apaswarams, and I had a fairly good command over my gamakas and sangathis too... so all's fine...

1998, I have to move to this obscure town called Pilani in the fringe border of Rajasthan and haryana to study engineering at this college BITS,Pilani.

All at home excepting my dad and my mom said "Its all over now... what carnatic music will Harish sing in Rajasthan... His music is over!!". I was confused, but determined on 2 facts - I will surely go to Pilani to study engineering. Secondly - I will continue to sing and try to enrich my musical knowledge in whatever way possible. Let me not elaborate on what I did in Pilani, but the bottom line is my exposure to hindustani music, Sufiyana, Khayals and Ghazal mode of singing went exponentially up.

I was swept off my feat by the amount of scope of innovation that the ghazal gayaki gives an artiste. The first thing that came to my mind is, why cant I add those subtle nuances that a ghazal singer gives to a ghazal to a Thyagaraja Keerthanam? I couldnt find a convincing reason which would prevent me from doing so. Who decides Sankarabharanam has to be sung "THIS WAY ONLY!" Who decides A raaga alaapana should always follow an upward progression that is the lower sthaayi to upper sthaayi and back... hey hey... these are all rules that got imposed into carnatic music , just because the older generation did it that way! PERIOD.

The proverb which puts me off to the greatest extent is - "OLD IS GOLD!" Bull crap man!! if everything old was gold, we will be still wearing tree leaves instead of clothes and would be loafing in some obscure forest hunting animals with crude stone spears!!! ONLY change is constant. The older things should just become history. If somethig old, that has some significance to today, retain it, otherwise chuck it! its not worth holding on to it!!

I refuse to sing a particular keerthanam or raagam in a particular way just because GNB or Musri Subrahmanya Iyer sang it that way.. Apply ur rational here, think what appeals to the current generation, and sing that way.. thats the ideology I would like to follow. So I am absolutely against this Sampradaya oriented musical fundamentalism where any new artist who experiments is criticized just for the heck of it because the person deviated from the traditional mode of renditions... I was apalled by the way the well known critic Subbudu responded to Padmashree T N Seshagopalan's extremely commendable attempt at singing a Raagam Taanam Pallavi in Raag Brindavana Saaranga. His comment was something like 'TNS has insulted the audience by rendering a RTP in a petty raag like Brindavana saaranga which doesnt even qualify to be rendered as a pre - main raag" Comon, what the hell man? Appreciate TNS's genius for bringing out the subtle nuances of this extremely challenging ragam (atleast in the RTP perspective)..

Why am I saying all these, well i saw atleast some 5-6 eyebrows go up during my performance at AIR where I chose to sing Raag Manirangu for the main kriti. Everyone wants a todi, kalyani or a harikamboji rendition? why??? I think manirangu is an amazing raagam and it also has immense scope for improvisation. I would much rather sing the soothing , easy to listen raagas rather that overdoze the audience with the heavy duty stuff. I am not saying u should not sing a bhairavi or varaali... all I am sayig is that PLease dont make it a rule that only melakarthas or the so called heavy duty janyas qualify as main keerthana renditions. Please bury the cliched sampradaayik rules and help carnatic music soar greater heights. And also for heavens, please take into consideration the critical opinion of the current generation folks also and not just the generation of Subbudus (With all respects to him, I just hate his hypocrytic views on carnatic concerts!) which is the past.

hail music!!