musings on music and life

May 21, 2013

June 8th concert

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: , — sankirnam @ 8:24 pm

I feel obligated to advertise this here for highly obvious reasons:

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It’s a veena arangetram (debut concert) with my guru Shri. Neyveli Narayanan on mrudangam. As I have said earlier, the veena as such is a dying art form. Not enough people are interested in listening to veena concerts; this is because the subtleties and nuances of veena playing are best conveyed without amplification, and thus require a highly trained ear. The result is that only the true cognoscenti will attend veena concerts, and these are naturally very few in number. In spite of this, modern veenas are amplified (see vainikas such as Rajesh Vaidya and Jayanthi Kumaresh), and hardcore rasikas will say what I mentioned a sentence earlier – that the subtleties are lost. Not enough students are interested in learning veena too – and this makes sense given what I said above. If you are going to choose an instrument to learn, might as well choose one that gets you a good audience and a decent amount of attention! This was not always the case, however. If you look at ancient texts in music, the veena is one of the oldest instruments in India, and thus was given more prominence than even vocal music! In fact, it used to be the goal of vocalists to emulate veena players even as late as the early 20th century (e.g. the whole Dhannamal school). The veena is also bulky and difficult to transport, unlike other instruments (such as the violin), and lacks the versatility that the violin has (although I would desperately love for someone to prove me wrong here). What we need is another vidwan like S. Balachander to really revolutionize the art behind this ancient instrument.

That being said, major kudos to the student for choosing to pursue the art in this instrument. I’m sure this will be a wonderful concert.

May 19, 2013

Devadasi

Filed under: Carnatic Music — Tags: — sankirnam @ 9:39 pm

On Saturday, I played mrudangam for my first dance performance. Details can be found here: http://lacma.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/devadasi-the-eternal-dancer/

Credit for the success of the program is due entirely to Viji Prakash – her hard work, crystal clear vision, passion for the art, and ability to juggle multiple things at once are all critical traits that in the end lead to a standing ovation at the LA county museum of art. This program required a lot of hard work; there were lots of late-night rehearsals and missed dinners, sleepless nights, and agonizing over learning individual parts. What most people do not know is that being a mrudangist for dance is a lot different from being a regular concert mrudangist; they require very different skillsets. Most dance mrudangists will admit that they are not good at playing for concerts, and most concert mrudangists (including my guru) do not play for dance. I decided to do so this time not just because Viji aunty asked me, but because in the grand scheme of things, it is good to have this experience and knowledge. UKS sir sometimes employs dance phrases to great effect in his thaniavarthanams, and I have learned (and use) a few of them myself.

In other news, my previous post on Lalgudi Jayaraman got a flood of views earlier this month. Thanks to all my friends and carnatic rasikas for sharing, and many thanks to Viji madam (Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi) for sharing the page on facebook!

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