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Vid Dev

Musings of a music student

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Standing Up

For having a blog with tagline “If you have something to say, I shall be saying something as well”, I have not been saying what I have wanted to say for a long long time, I realized. It was a conscious decision because I decided to write only about music in this space. Though it was a good choice with respect to the music, it also dawned on to me recently that even when I had other things to say, I did not have a space to say it, thanks to my choices.

So here I am breaking out of confinement (my own though) and writing stuff. If you think you are not here to read this, there will be other music posts coming up. So adios!

I have been lucky enough to have a circle (/gang) of friends wherever I go. In one such gang in a girls school I studied, a topper-leader-teacher’s pet girl spoke ill about a fellow average-scoring girl for her marks. I remember the rest of the girls in the gang taking it up to the topper and when things got hot, we isolated her from our circle. Now, I do know how wrong isolating someone was, and I am sorry for that. Nevertheless, the idea had been to stand up for a friend being discriminated.

Another incident that came to memory on similar lines was something that happened in college (though there may not be many nice things to say about my college). We had a weird-looking drools-while-he-talks professor, and a guy drew a cartoon of him and passed it around in another class. Needless to say, the paper got caught, and the issue went up to the management level. For those who don’t understand the repercussion of this, kindly google “Chennai engineering college atrocities”. But even with a threat of everyone being beaten up for a silly prank one played, all the boys stood up and refused to give away the name of the “doodle artist”.

And then there are these multiple instances we see online – #metoo posts by people from many different walks of life; campaigning for a fellow blogger whose content got plagiarized, and the likes. Though they are commendable gestures, it came as a result of a cry for help. What if someone around you has been targeted and bullied? What if they are a victim of falsely asserted defamation triggered by revenge? What if they did not plead for help? What if this happens in the realms of a virtual social circle? Above all, what if apart from the victim and the perpetrators, the others in the social circle are mere onlookers?

If I was in the place of the victim, I am sure I would start questioning why my friends didn’t support me, when they see what is happening. I could even go to the extent of blaming them for being opportunistic. But then I thought if I had ever been that friend who raised my voice for support. And my answer was, yes, maybe a couple of times. Not always though. Why? There could be various other reasons apart from being opportunistic. Maybe we never realize that bullying happened; maybe we did not want to unnecessarily get involved (namakku edhuku vambu); or simply because of the magnitude of the social circle (meaning number of facebook friends) our non-involvement is justified.

It could mean one of the two things – either increased online living has diluted the humanity in us; or I need to seriously revisit my understanding of a “friend”.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

Romantic Ragas

I believe that ragas elicit certain emotions in you when you listen to them and each one has one emotional trait that is predominant. I am not well read when it comes to carnatic music theory, hence here is the disclaimer that whatever I write below is exclusively what I think from my experience.

For this love themed jodi posts by CBC, I thought I should write about ragas that I think are the most romantic, for various reasons. By romance, here I mean the “a feeling of excitement and mystery and happiness that might or might not be associated with love”.

Reethigowla

The reason I chose Reethigowla is hugely influenced by its usage and identification in tamil film music.The carnatic compositions were of no help due to its religious / spiritual context. Whereas in films, right from Chinna Kannan to Azhagana Rakshasiye to Sudum Nilavu to Kangal Irandal, most of these famous romantic duets are set in this raga. Maybe the GaMaNiNiSa phrase gives that lilting beauty when sung; or that the very structure of the raga is not flat and boring but mystical and interesting.

Here is a playlist of only movie songs in Reethigowla for you.

 

Kaapi

Kaapi I believe lives up to its name. If coffee is believed to be an aphrodisiac, then the name sake might as well be one. It oozes love, and at the same time manifests in many forms – be it Bharathi’s love for Kannamma in Chinnanjiru Kiliye or the Javali (composition type generally conveying sringaara) Parulanna Maata, or the motherly love of Yashodha in Enna Thavam Seidhanai, or ARR’s Kadhal Rojave. It seems to me that, like the various types of coffees from each part of the world, the various songs in Kaapi have a unique flavor and each have to be dealt with, different from the other. You might want it black, or with milk or cream or sugar, but each type (song) has to be savored in the way it has to be.

Behag

This is my favourite raga of the three. But not many would agree with me for even adding it in the list of romantic ragas. That might even be the case; but then I learnt this song Kamaladhala Kannan in Behag. I don’t know what ESS Iyer imagined when he composed it, but that part “madhi mosam ponenadi” does something to me, every time I listen to it. The context of the phrase is thus: (I am giving the text in Tamizh as the essence seems lost when I translated it to English, sorry)

… ஒருவரும் இங்கில்லை என்று ஒருமுறை கண்ணா என்றேன்
ஓடி வந்து என்ன என்றான் ஒன்றுமில்லை என்றேன் நான்
வருந்தி இனிமேல் அழைத்திட்டாலும் வரமாட்டேன் என்று சொல்லி
வருந்த வைத்து மறைந்தார் – மதி மோசம் போனேனடி…

(knowing none is around, she calls Krishna – he appears – she gets tongue tied – hence he leaves saying don’t expect me to come next time you call – and that is when she loses her mind).

Malargal keten from OK Kanmani and Aalapanam from Gaanam are the only two movie songs I can think of in Behag and both are abstract in a way. Maybe it is that abstractness that this raga embellishes, that is lovely.

If you have a difference of opinion, or think I’m incapable of writing about this topic, or got anything else to say, do leave a comment. I’m not really a fan of bouquets, so that and brickbats are equally welcome 😉

This post has been written for the ‘love theme’ contest by The Chennai bloggers club in association with woodooz and Indian Superheroes.

Having read my take on romantic ragas, please also read what my team mate Divya Narasimhan of Sayuri has to say about how music inspired her to create jewellery designs. Here, she has taken the natabhairavi sounding song “Vaseegara” and interpreted it in her necklace.

Until next,

Vid 🙂

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”.

http://www.informedesign.org/Rs_detail/rsId/2331

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 🙂

Kanthaa…

Remember the scene where Parvathy goes to meet Dulqer in the malayalam movie Charlie? Its a festival called pooram a.k.a thiru-aadi-pooram.

Pooram is a festival held at a temple in Thrissur on the day of the pooram star. This year it falls on April 17th, that is today. One of the major events in the festival is the pancha vadhya melam performed by more than 200 artists.

One of the songs sung during the festival is Kanthaa njanum varaam… Below is a link that I believe is how the original folk song is sung. (very feeble, raise volume and listen).

During an interesting conversation with a friend, who blogs at https://devadhaithozhan.wordpress.com/, I learnt the meaning of this song. It is about a person (probably a girl) pleading Kaanthan to take her to the Trissur Pooram festival. She lists out the reasons as to why she wants to make it to the festival and what she would do there. She says, she wants to see pooram; wants to be with Kaanthan in the pooram crowd; wants to listen and play the percussions of pooram; wants to see the fireworks, et al.

I just wondered why a song about a girl talking to her guy, be sung and performed by a bunch of men. Weird. If only someone could explain.

Enough wondering about the meaning, this post is about the chronological versions this folk song has evolved to; though my story started the opposite way.

There are a couple of malayalam movie references to the song, though I have not seen the song been fully used.

Then came the Masala Coffee band which was started two years ago, which did a cover for this song. The song starts off with the lead vocalist Sooraj Santhosh playing an intro in a kazoo. The entire song sounded to me like a fusion of classical and rap, there is a bit played in esraj, and the flavours brought out of the same old song are so refreshing and scintillating. (do I sound like a cook-off’s judge here :O) The folk song took a good turn at this juncture – the Masala Coffee version remains my favourite to the day.

 

This song which typically has flair of ragas Sankarabharanam and Yadhukula Kamboji, got a language variant that was released in Tamil. A movie Uriyadi, that was released earlier this year, had music composed by the very same band, and they have used one of their trademark compositions and made a tamil version out of it. The song, also starting Kanthaa, was written as a funny take on the middle class challenges. However, I wasn’t sure if the lyrics did fit into the existing composition. That being just my opinion, the tune does seem to have stuck on and created the magic. Listen to the same in the link below.

 

Wondering where would Kantha go from here?! Hopefully to somewhere nice 🙂 Kanthaa njanum varam…

Until next,

Vid 🙂

P.S: Esraj and Kazoo are musical instruments, whose name I learnt only while reading up for this post!

The Concert Preference

Another year has gone by and its December again. To a music enthusiast and a Chennaiite especially, this is the time of the year of concerts, Classical music, and much more! In short, it is the season!!!

So if you are new to the overdose of music that happens at this time, here are a few pointers. There is something called the concert life cycle that any singer/performer must undergo. Let us say it comprises of three main phases, though some might say five.

First is the juniors slot which might be at 12 noon or at 1.30 pm, most likely comprising of some Sabha’s competition winner or disciple of some prominent musician who is already in her/his peak. Then comes the peak slot which might be at 4 or 6 in the evenings and the most famous of the famous get a weekend or holiday invariably. Then is the retirement slot at 9 AM, which is free, but has some of the best in the field singing here. Only common thing, all of them would started greying. (Psst timings are flexible I am more concerned about the category)

So we get to choose from this repertoire of musicians to hear from. Whom all do we choose in the end? A question that has been crooning at the back of my mind time and again these days – the art or the artiste: what or whom is appreciated?

Why do you go to to a particular concert? The acoustics of the auditorium – Previous performances listened to – Patantharam (this is one of the most important things in history of Classical music) – intention to innovate.

This intention to innovate against an artiste’s choice of rendering an already popular song is another topic of discussion. Does the famous singer make a song popular? Or does the popular song make the singer famous?

– Until next,
Vid 🙂

Rational Views on Casteism, Indian Women and Parents

Y Lineage

Misinterpretations happen. Especially with age old customs and traditions.

I remember an interesting discussion I had owing to the link given to me by my friend. (Do check out the link as well)

http://www.hitxp.com/articles/veda/science-genetics-vedic-hindu-gotra-y-chromosome-male-lineage-extinction/

For those who do not feel like reading the long article, it is about “Science of Genetics behind the Hindu Gotra System – The Y Chromosome and the Male Lineage”.

What followed was a story from mine and my friend’s imagination. I thought I should share it with you all as well. Here goes:

me:      hey i was thinkin of this possibility – jus an imagination

but u gotta hear t thru

Mr.X: k

me:     rishi: “its not advisable for 2 ppl of the same gotra to get married”

layman: “y?”

r: to conserve the Y chromosome that s present only in men

l: “the wat??? :O

r: k just forget t for now… but rememb this, ppl from same gotra are considered siblings (that way they wont marry even if they dont und the reason 😉 )

l: k k

L gets married

l1 to l:

l1: hey im plannin to get married

l: good but dont marry person from same gotra

l1: y???

l: i dono some rishi told so

i also didn… he seemed pretty learned

l1: but i wanna marry some1 from my family, some1 i kno

l: oh…. well i think there s a way out

if u marry ur mom’s brother’s son / daughter that will technically satisfy the cond

(dad’s sister’s son / daughter implied)

l1: wow gr8 idea ill do just tht!!!

l1 to l2:

Mr.X: haha

me:     l1: im happily married…

l2: oh good… to whom??

l1: to my mom’s brother’s daughter

l2 to l3: l1 s happily married

l3: oh gr8 how s tht so??

l2: he says he s married to …. the blah blah

l3: so u say if u marry like that, then thts good…

l2: i guess so…

l3 does the same

l5: im plannin to get married

l4: its to ur cuzin only right…. coz thts how l3 did

l5 to l6: the story goes on….

l116: my uncle has a 1 year old girl… as thts the rule of the society once she s old enuf, she s my wife….

thus the phenomenon

lol story over

Mr.X: 🙂

l6,l7,l8….ln

then comes a new gen

me:     and the actual reason vanishes

Mr.X: inquisitive-1 : how come ppl marry to cuzins

i2 : looks wierd. lets look in

i1 (brilliant in genetics winds back half way and then figures that marrying across gotras helps in reducing the defects in the offspring).

i2: but that cant be true since A + B = C (C gets both genes of A and B). So C = fn(AB) but is gotra A

similarly D + E (E is same gotra as B) = F = fn(DB) but gotra D when C + D = H is allowed we increase the defect probability in H wrt to B

fn (AB + DB)

i1: looks like the rishis had figured some part out but did not know abt genetics that much like we do now

i2: yea. this gotra system doesnt make any sense.

and thats how it goes 🙂

Mr.X:  u explained how it happened

i am saying how its happening now

me: so how was the story????

Mr.X: nice 🙂

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