Dec 27, 2010

Favorite Seat in the House?

For the past several seasons, I have sat behind my guru, Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan, on the dais for most, if not all, of his concerts, especially around the December season time. This season, after the first couple of concerts, I decided to sit in the audience and listen to the concert from a different angle. I commented to someone that I was hearing his Music Academy concert from the front view after probably 7 years, or maybe more, as even before sitting on the dais behind him, I used to sit on the stage off to the side of the dais.

Even when sitting on stage behind him, I always preferred to sit behind the violinist so that I could see Sanjay Sir's facial expressions as opposed to sitting directly behind him where I would not be able to see anything except the audience.

It made me wonder where people prefer to sit when they go to a concert. Obviously this will vary from sabha to sabha, but what makes you prefer one area/seat over another?

This is completely non-technical and just something I've been wondering this season, as I made the decision to sit in the audience this time around for most concerts.


Dec 15, 2010

Innovation vs Tradition

This next post of mine is inspired by one of the comments about 'boundaries' in Carnatic Music and its interpretation. Today, we hear a lot of discussions about tradition and innovation. What exactly do these terms mean with respect to the Carnatic Idiom? Do they go hand in hand or are they two separate entities where one ceases to exist when the other begins?

Your Thoughts...

Dec 9, 2010

Phones in Concerts... On the Stage?!

Everyone has seen the inconsiderate rasika that forgets to silence their phone during a concert. Some rasikas even have the audacity to answer calls and speak while a concert is taking place. But what I witnessed recently really outdid all of the above mentioned...

In a recent Carnatic concert I saw someone on the dais actually taking pictures of artists/audience from their phone, and posting them online in real-time! I was even notified via text by a friend during the concert telling me to go online and see the pictures.

I think technology is great. I love my phone, and I love the ability to look up anything on it from anywhere, which includes the middle of concerts... FROM THE AUDIENCE.

There were recently some rules imposed on the National Basketball Association (NBA) that limited players use of cell phones on the sidelines, so that they couldn't tweet or blog during games. There has to be a line where it's too much to be typing, texting, or facebooking from the actual dais. There are professionals up there, and a level of seriousness which I don't think goes along with real-time Facebook updates.

Incidentally, it was a really good concert.

Your thoughts?...

Dec 8, 2010

Concert Format

My last post was more like an introduction to this blog. I always wanted to start off on a musical note so here is my first official post with a small clip. Ongi Ulagalandha in Arabhi Ragam, Adi Talam from the famous Tiruppavai Concert by Ariyakudi Sri Ramanuja Iyengar accompanied by Sri T.N. Krishnan on the Violin and Umayalpuram Sri K. Sivaraman on the Mrdangam.

There are many reasons for me choosing this clip. The last post by Sriranjani talks about experimenting with the concert structure and presenting new and different numbers with manodharma (improvisation). This post is a continuation of that and talks about experimenting with the concert format through an example.

The basic structure of a concert that we all predominantly follow today, as pointed out by her, consists of a Varnam, a ‘Main’, Fillers, Tukkadas and a ‘Sub Main’ (terms that I am not too fond of). This concert format was initially formulated and popularized by Sri Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar which everyone started to pursue later. The same man, who created this structure, also presented a lot of Tiruppavai-s in his concerts (since Tiruppugazh-s are mentioned) and has also presented Pallavi-s (RTP) as the main item. This is a classic example where he presents a Tiruppavai with Ragam and Svaram in a very concise manner leaving you yearning for more.

After listening to this, the first thing that strikes me is his to the point approach and the crispness in his music. There are no unwanted gaps or pauses and everything seems to flow smoothly from one to another. Ariyakudi, who proposed the ‘contemporary’ concert format, sings a concert full of Tiruppavai-s. People during his time might not have approved of him singing Ragam and Svaram for a Tiruppavai or presenting so many compositions in a concert. The concert format that is widely accepted today was a new innovation that he ventured in his times. Acceptance for something new takes time to gain. We might not have this format today if he was not open to experimentation. There is ample space for innovation and this is just one such example of experimenting with the concert structure within the boundaries of classicism. Many more to come…

Happy December Season!

Come December - and Madras breaks out in song and dance.

The Season is a time of intense creativity, breath-taking performances and earnest Sabha hopping. HAPPY MUSIC SEASON to those who are a part of this in some way or the other :)

Scintillating as it already is, I found myself wondering how I can make this season different, in terms of concert presentation within the given time, which would be 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs.

With due respect for the usual concert format of Varnam, Sub-Main , Main, interspersed with Fillers, followed by Thukkadas, I would like to know how acceptable and interesting innovations can be introduced without anything being jarring or echoing disrespect for tradition.

I was thinking along these lines :-

1. Introducing a Pallavi in a Rare Raga that would be just right for a 1.5 or 2 hr. concert?

2. Singing a Thiruppugazh or a Bharathiyar song as main or sub-main?

Looking forward to your valuable suggestions in this regard :)

'Favourite Ragam' of the Season

Hi all...

I know you all must be busy hopping between sabhas, listening to a lot of concerts. Well, there is atleast one more month of such running around :) happy season to all :) :)

Just wanted to ask you all - Till now, what do you think has been the 'favourite ragam' of this season?

Looking forward to your comments... We will also see if this favourite ragam changes as the season progresses...

Dec 4, 2010


Is this site necessary? Maybe not. Is it useful? Maybe.

A site such as this one, albeit well intentioned, is only as useful as those who contribute to it. I'm not referring merely to the 4 artists who have joined together to make this site, but those who view and comment on the topics here as well.

Please spread the word and add your thoughts here.

For starters, please feel free to share your thoughts on this concept itself. We have heard feedback from artists and rasikas while planning this, and would love if some of them would post here for everyone to see.

... Is the site necessary? Can it be useful?

Dec 3, 2010

Carnatic Latté - Site Purpose

Carnatic Latté expresses the observations, comments, and questions of 4 upcoming artists of Carnatic music in Chennai, India. We hope to stir up a healthy musical discussion, and in such discussions there is no right or wrong. Please forgive us if in our attempt to be candid, we inadvertantly offend anyone. Rasikas and musicians are invited to please take part in the discussion with their comments and thoughts as we post our musings on music.

This being the initial post of the blog, we ask for all of your feedback and suggestions. We will soon follow up with topics related to music, as and when we come across them.

Hope you find this useful and thought provoking. Your contributions will be our motivation to continue this effort towards creating open and healthy musical discussions.

Carnatic Latté Team