Saturday, September 13, 2008

Artist ?

The 'Youth revolution' in Carnatic music is witnessing certain imbalances today. Concert artistes are always denoted as Vocal (Main) and accompanists (Supportive) artistes. The paper advertisements also feature the concert in the order of the Vocalist (or Instrumentalist in an instrumental concert), the violinist and the mridangam. Remuneration for these artistes also follows the same trend, i.e, the vocalist gets the lion's share with the accompanists getting less. It so happens today that concerts of many of the young, crowd pulling artistes who are in great demand, feature senior accompanists who have been dominating their field for decades. In this case, these stalwarts, who are so responsible for bringing up the level of the concert to great heights, are paid less than the young 'main' artiste who may not have even been born when the concerned accompanist was on his way to the peak. Such a discrepancy seems unjust. Is it fair to pay a top level, world famous, senior, experienced, crowd-pulling violinist or mridangam vidwan less just because he is 'not main'? Should there not be acknowledgement of his senior status, by virtue of which the concert reaches unprecedented heights? The organizer should surely take cognizance of such stature and seniority and give the supportive artistes their dues.

In the All India Radio, artistes are paid according to their grading, irrespective of their position as 'main', 'accompaniment', etc. Remuneration is fixed and thus there is no differentiation between a main artiste and otherwise. If such a stand was taken in the Sabhas, one could well imagine the controversies that would be stirred up! The only solution seems to be to acknowledge that all the members of a concert team play an equal part in the success of the concert and give payment without differentiating between their roles. Otherwise, it would be like paying the batsmen more, the bowlers less and the wicket-keepers much lesser for the same cricket match the team has won together!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Popularity - Fame

December may be the last month of every year but for some young and upcoming musicians and dancers as well as some artists abroad, it is a welcome month. Quite so as this is the time for showing their mettle in the fine-arts world which has also become a highly competitive one. This is quite cheering. But this natural urge and enthusiasm in them to gain name and fame is misused by some who are supposed to represent the press to earn cheap and easy money.

In this festival season, I observed some people thronging an young artist right inside the artist’s room after the performance introducing themselves as press reporters, demanding money for publishing the artist’s photo and an article about the programme. On such occasions, the artists who are not so experienced, in their desperate mood fall easy prey. I do not know how such so called press people gain easy access to the artist’s room itself without proper identification. I feel that people who represent leading magazines and newspapers will never adopt such mean tactics. What can be done to curb this unhealthy practice requires serious thinking and suggestions by all.

Btw, Is this the intelligence of the press reporters to barge inside the dressing room to get the money knowing the performer’s love towards on popularity and fame?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fractions To Fractures

All of us are interested in some sport or the other. Some are addicted to Cricket. Many have a fascination for Soccer or Football as was evident from the recently held world cup soccer in Germany. We also hear about the fierce combats of boxing, wrestling and the violent rugby shows. If we keenly observe, apart from being a sport all these have one thing in common, which is a set of rules and regulations. They have a ground or a ring within which they compete following the rules and regulations. They do not try to go beyond the boundary and explore extra-ordinaries. Their actions are closely watched and misconduct against rules and regulations is reacted upon appropriately.

If you draw a parallel of this to our music, we have exhaustively worked out possibilities based on which rules and regulations are built. For centuries great scholars, beyond our portrayal have contributed to these rules and regulations. Respecting their conclusions, some of the points which are of only theoretical interest are deliberately left unexplored by our predecessors. For an instance in Layam, tempos are broadly classified in to five. When from Chaturasram (4 matras per beat) we go to tiram (3), Kandam (5), misram (7) and sankeernam (9) there is natural change of pace with definte matras conforming to each beat. We can have permutations, combinations multiplication, sequencing and so on within this larger boundary. The unexplored possibilities within this strong disciplined fence remain still infinite.

If such is the case, where is the necessity to attempt unusual pace changes like tisram of kandam, kandam of misram, misram of sankeernam etc? In all these attempts fractional values are assigned per beat which make them musically and rhythmically deficient. Even if one tries to substantiate it as his aptitude or gift, aesthetics are mislaid. While we have a dress code for occasions, rules for rituals, behavioral disciplines in every walk of life, why not avoid that which is disregarded by our precursors? Why attempt on the fractions in layam? Beware! Fractions can lead to Fractures!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Cheap" publicity

The press is playing an important part in the publicity of a concert. The artiste wants to perform and get a good name and a good review in the paper. The reviewer also wants to be praised for their reports. So he takes care of the matter and the language.
After seeing the paper in this season, I feel that a new category of publicity seeker has started out.

This category is not a performer or a critic. But they give free views in the "Letters to the Editor". In this, they are putting controversial subjects and false ideas that can't be proved and just try to make a name. I am surprised that the papers which are supposed to be reputed allowing this. Normally, even when we give a private advertisement in the paper, they ask us not to use certain objectionable words, etc. In that case, how can such papers allow these kinds of scandalous matters without filtering?

  • Just because the writers are big shots

  • Writers have a good influence

  • Writes have a good english/Tamil knowledge

  • News papers doenst want to lose their subscribers

It is not fair that they can say what they want in an e mail without any filtering.