Vid Dev

Musings of a music student



Where you listen matters

A few years ago, I had been to a concert of Sikkil Gurucharan, where he sang a scintillating marukkulaviya thiruppugazh as sub main. Unfortunately we were not able to continue listening the concert in peace, owing to the light music songs blaring through the speakers from the next building which turned out to be a marriage hall. No offence to cine music, but shouldn’t we choose when to listen what?

I believe that the structure, sound and ambience of the concert hall should be good enough in order for one to have a good listening experience. I’m not a sound engineer, nor do I know architecture. But I can recognise decent Carnatic music. And even the best music produced, will reach you as it is, only if you listen to it in the right place.

Only when the mike arrangement is good, can singing in lower octaves be enjoyed; a Kaarvai (sustaining at a swara for a length of time) be heard without distortion; and the lyrical beauty be appreciated. For the very same reason, I would choose a closed A/C hall to attend a concert any day, over open air (kottagai) kind of locations.

I found this study done by an M.Arch research scholar from IIT Madras on “The Acoustics of Concert Halls Through a Subjective Evaluation”.

The study identified that:

  • Consider surveying regular concert attendees during the design of music halls, as regular concert attendees may be reliable and effective judges of concert hall acoustics and surveys may be sufficient instruments for rating concert halls.
  • Be aware that clarity, liveliness, and definition may be preferred acoustic qualities for Carnatic music and that a lower Reverberation Time (i.e., 1.3 to 1.6 seconds) may provide for this quality.
  • Be aware that the ability to see the performer may be important to most regular concert attendees.
  • Be aware that most concert attendees may prefer a venue specifically designed for Carnatic music.

Well, that was their findings; however it does emphasise on one thing – where you listen, matters.

Below are my picks of sabhas / halls where listening would be bliss, here in Chennai. It would be double whammy for the listener, if the performer is also top notch 😉

1. The Music Academy

2. Krishna Gana Sabha

3. The hall in TTD, Venkatnarayana Road

4. Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium

Concerts to watch out for today, Dec 4….

6:00 PM Trichur Brothers, L. Ramakrishnan, Trichur Mohan, D.V. Venkatasubramanian @ Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, MCTM School, Alwarpet (Brahma Gana Sabha)

Until next,

Vid 🙂

On ‘trans’it…

Few days ago, I had the necessity to travel by the MRTS train. Boarded it at Thiruvanmyur station and inspite of a good frequency of trains at that time, the compartment was crowded. There was this empty space near the entrance opposite to the one where the platforms usually come. I was surprised why the place was not filled, when elsewhere was totally jam-packed.

I meandered throught he crowd and went and stood there. Only then did I know why it was spacious. Apparently two trans-genders were sitting on either side and hence nobody dared to go nearby. It pained to know that people are that narrow minded. When you do not treat a fellow human being like one, what is the point in talking about values and virtues?!

That momentary thought vanished as a sound distracted me. One of them started demanding me for money. I agree I’ll respect them, but whomsoever be it has no rights to demand… mind you, not request… demand you for money. Why would I give, just to avoid the ruckus they create is it? Nevermind. I just stood still without heeding to that cursing. Well, almost not heeding. What started as blessings for a good life, slowly and gradually turned out to be pure abuses and curses on the same life that few statements before should have been prosperous (provided, all blessings turn to reality, I mean).

Finally, mouth parched, they gave up begging and turned to each other to chat. Despite the physical difference, this particular person in discussion had made it a point to look presentable. Hair neatly trimmed into a boy cut; slim fit blouse; a matching black beaded-chain on the neck; design bindi and even a tinge of makeup was visible.

Reminded me of another train journey. Mid morning and not many in the ladies compartment; I took a window seat, stretched my legs to the opposite seat, while the entire line of 12 seats near me were empty. Then in the next station, someone boarded the train, directly sat down near the entrance, when the entire train was empty. I took my legs off the opposite seat and signalled that they can occupy any of those empty seats. That was a transgender again, and the person had a facial expression that said that they rarely recieved an act of compassion from us. And inspite of offering the seat, the person went and sat down near the entrance.


I do not know whether they fear humiliation, or accept it; or why is that we treat them like untouchables. Knowing all this, it is not really logical when you get to hear that these people are considered a blessing during weddings. Come on, is there no rationale?!

– Until next,

Vid 🙂

A Travelogue…

Definition of Travelogue – A lecture about travel. And thus, here we start…

My parents and me journeyed to a place in Chennai called Chromepet some 20 plus years ago. We have been traveling in and out of the place ever since. However, whenever we are here, we stay at the same house. Our apartment is surrounded by little greenery and houses on all sides (believe it or not) and sometimes filled with the droning sound of the motor. There are countless memories related to this place. Hence for now, I give you a day’s happenings’ recount.

The alarm starts ringing from 5.30 AM and goes on till 6.10 AM. I have been hitting the snooze button seeing my phone through the thin seam between my eyelids all this time. Finally I get up, brush my teeth, have coffee and start out for a morning walk.

The sights outside on a busy weekday morning always fascinates me. The locality is buzzing with people – mama’s and mami’s on their way home from the temple holding a “dhonnai” – a cup made of dried leaves and pinned with tiny sticks – full of pongal (Margazhi special)… men in trousers (ara nijar in my Thatha’s vocabulary) buying newspaper and milk… college students waiting for their college buses – please note that most of the private colleges in Chennai have early bus timings owing to the fact that they are all situated amidst forests / lakes / deserts in the outskirts of the city… “share – autos” carrying sleepyheads heading to office… A stray person recognizing me and “enna, walking ah?” How does it seem to you – like I am brushing my teeth, or what? 😛

The situation changes in the main road on my return journey. College students are replaced by office goers in bus stands; “share – autos” carry double the load than my previous mention; kids laden with schoolbags as big as them, moms trailing behind giving instructions non – stop. And there is this old auto wala I try to avoid to and fro my walk, because this guy accuses me for his loss of income. Old man, who on earth goes for morning walks in auto?! :O

Later in the morning, on my way to this building called “Chennai One”, just before I enter it, a beautiful sight awaits me. An expanse of more than a km on either side are water bodies. I tell you beforehand that they are lakes – you can’t identify at first sight, there is more garbage in it than water is. Pretty useful, I should say, for dumping garbage / sewage. Especially when it rains, the lake emanates a fragrance that makes me don my stole like a terrorist for crossing this stretch!

However, the constricted view from inside glass – sealed windows is really good. The reason being, the smell is eliminated and the dumped region can be conveniently ignored. This month is apt for the migratory birds. We (the usual gang that goes for coffee together) stand near one such window admiring the birds during break.

What a flock of birds! Around 500 in total. They fly in different groups, each in one direction. One group from south to north and the other, east to west, say. Suddenly some of the birds from the former group delink themselves and join the latter. Some confusion within the ranks, presumably. Four of them detach from the rest and fly low towards the swamp. This triggers in motion more birds that were previously sitting and a newer flock emerges. Thus the play continues and its a cute phenomenon to observe.

Another notable sight is the sunset through these windows in the evening. Unfortunately, I have never managed to capture it as a 2D image and be equally impressed with it. Maybe the dispersion does not happen that well through the lenses 😉 😛

Traveling in bus is by itself an experience in Chennai. Like everywhere, the important routes and peak hours operate full houses in buses. And the preferred places to stand are the poles near alternate seats – easily 4 people will be fighting (cold war types, nothing violent) for a hold there at anytime. Also if you end up standing somewhere in between the two entrances, then you get the opportunity to do social service as well. Ticket – buying – for – others is an art that only daily commuters can excel in. It involves a lot of complexities, viz.. remembering who gave how much money, which place they are commuting to, if the ticket that is in your hand right now is your ticket or someone else’s :P, and in case there is a change due kept by the conductor and you are the one passing on the money and ticket, you get to soon pass the “polambal”s and abuses as well!!

Back home and after a filter coffee and yummy dinner later, all I can think of is – “Singaara Chennai” does have a beauty of its own!!! 😀

Until next,

Vid 🙂

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