Dec 8, 2010

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 :)


  1. Is the rare raga rtp also the main? I feel like 1.5-2 hours should have a heavy/common raga as the main.

    And with regards to part 2, I have actually heard thiruppugazh and Bharathiar songs sung as main. Perhaps it is more important on the song raga/structure itself more than the fact that it is either a thiruppugazh, or Bharathiar composition.

    I guess there's always boundaries based on personal beliefs and audience reaction. As we push the boundaries, it's important to believe in whatever you are doing more than anything else.

  2. @Sri Ranjani: Interesting thought. This might actually be a good way to include RTPs in a concert by singing it as the main item. But I would prefer using a more common ragam for the pallavi if it's going to be the main.
    @Sandeep: An RTP would be a good choice for a 2 hour concert but maybe a little cramped for a 1.5 hour concert. In my opinion, I guess each person's boundary differs from the other. What is important is to make sure that it all stays within the framework of classicism and the aesthetic is not lost.

  3. I would love to hear an RTP main in a 1.5-2 hrs concert. It need not be cramped if well planned and if it is in a simple tAlam structure like Adi 2 kalai or mishra chaapu.

    I feel the raagam should be a heavy one, else you must ensure that you have a heavy sub main! But i doubt whether a sub main or tukkadas will be possible at all! However, Im sure that the RTP will compensate for that!

    A tiruppugazh main will be a welcome change!

  4. A brief RTP sounds fine. But thiruppugazh/bharatiyar as main or sub main??? EKSI. One could as well wear footwear on one's palms if change is all one wants.

  5. @iAm who iam : Whats wrong in singing a thiruppugazh or bharathiyar song as a main item in a carnatic concert.. Please enlighten me !!

  6. @youAre who you are and Bharat:As sandeep said, the structure of the song is what actually matters, not whether it is a thiruppugazh, bharathiyar song or whatever. if it has good scope for neraval and swaram , i dont see the reason for bringing up "footwear on one's palm" comparison.

    But w.r.t RTP , everyone seems to think that it should be either ghana ragam/ familiar ragam, which i agree with.

    looking forward to more suggestions for a novel concert format.

    Thanks All.

  7. @ i am who i am - anything that we call traditional now might not have been in vogue several years ago! thats my thought.. and i think as long as the "bhakthi element" is retained, any song be it even bharathiyar's can be taken up as main

  8. @rithvik - classicism and aesthetic can also be interpreted differently by different people i think

  9. @all : my opinion about the composition of a concert . we can add on this -

    1. Warm-up - a known varnam chosen mutually by vocalist and accompanist - with/wo Kalpana swaram - it's a warm-up piece , so it should have been fast, atleast after charanam .

    2.Vilamba kala kriti - could be short or long based on the overall duration of the concert - just to slow down things ..

    3.Atleast one Prati-madhyama raga kriti in a concert - could be a Thirupugazh sung as sub-main or main , or anything , without any restrictions

    3.One rare raga kriti per concert

    4. Compulsorily swara kalpana in the main piece in the slower speed ; it is pretty irritating to find artists skip that beautiful part . They are missing something in life .

    5.A concert to include atleast 3 composers .

    6.Atleast one audava shadava raga kriti

    7. Minimum of 5 mins for thani for each of the pakka -vadhyam and upa-pakka-vdhyam artists .

    8.Rest of the song selection can be left to the artists , depending on the concert duration . In other words , we could have this format just as a skeleton to which more items can be added by the artist if he/she has more time .

  10. @Revathy: Beautifully said :) The "Bhakthi Element" very important indeed :)

    @Karthik: Whoa.Thats an exhaustive list.. well coined too :) I just finished preparing a concert list and Im glad it satisfies all the above said requirements. :)

  11. Singing a ragamalika slokam after the main .. Does time play a role in this?? Or can we try finishing the main piece earlier.. Thoughts ?

  12. Singing a Shlokam after main in raga malika is usual practice isnt it?

    I think that we can take up a raga malika song itself(like perava vara or even the navaraga malika varnam) as main.

  13. Its usual practice . Yes. But i feel its fading

  14. Including a vivadhi raga in each concert?

  15. @Sriranjani : thats great :)

    @Bharat : I thought for sometime about including vivadi raga.. but I feel , they will lose their value if sung too frequently... it is just my opinion though and it will differ from person to person..

  16. @RANJANI - a navaraga malika varnam as main... interesting ! :)

  17. There have been a lot of comments here so I am going to try and respond to a few here

    @Gokul: When I said cramped, I meant the exact same thing that you mentioned - about the possibility of having a 'sub-main' and 'tukkadas' which I don't think should be compromised on either.

    @iamwhoiam: Just FYI, there have been many special concerts for Thiruppugazhs - The famous Alathur Brothers Concert is the best example. So I personally don't see anything wrong with singing one as the main piece.

    @Bharat: I completely agree with your point. And wrt ragamalika shlokam, I think time plays a role!

    @Revathy: I like your interesting take on tradition and the ‘bhakti element’. And wrt the point of classicism and aesthetic, yes it can be interpreted differently by different individuals and can vary but each art form has its own boundary within which all these interpretations fall under. If it falls outside the broader view, then it may not be acceptable.

    @ Arunachala Karthik:
    1. I strongly differ from your classification of the Varnam as 'it's a warm up piece' :)
    2. A Vilamba kala krti should be there in a concert for a difference in kala pramanams like you said rather than just using it as something to slow the pace down!
    3. I agree that there should be one prati madhyamam but not necessarily as a 'sub-main' and what do you mean by 'without restrictions'?
    5. I would be more specific and say possibly the trinity compositions should be there unless it is a thematic presentation which is rare.
    Just a question though! How come there is no mention of a Neraval in your list?

    @Sri Ranjani: It is usual practice but generally there isn't time for that in a 1 1/2 hour concert right? And interesting thought as the navaragamalika varnam being sung as main!

  18. @Ritvik :

    1.the warm-up piece could also be a short kriti , with nireval and rounds of swaram!

    2. the tendency of the fast kriti/varnam (warm-up) may be to take the concert in the same pace, which may give a hurried feel to the concert...thats y slowing down is so much required..

    3.Without restrictions just means , it can fit anywhere ..not necessarily main or sub-main

    5. Come on , don't say you sing Mysore Vasudevachar kritis only in a thematic :) and btw nireval is such a part and parcel of the concert , that I took it for granted that it will be there in the concert...just like the main.. and I will vote for slow paced nireval and then the madhyama kala nireval , if it is possible in that kriti!

  19. What about a MADHYAMA SHRUTHI ragam as main ? :)

  20. @Bharat : vow :)

    PS. : thinking of one Kurinji RTP sung by TNS sir(I think ) , the difficulty with that RTP was that it kept shifting between madhyama sruti and sama sruti in parts for the ragas Kurinji and natakurinji was amazing that the violinist managed really well..

  21. @Rithvik.. absolutely.. but acceptance is again influenced by a lot of other factors! for all we know, this discussion may not even interest some people who refuse to accept it. are we not suppose to do it then?

  22. @Arunachala Karthik - Everything you posted seemed to be 'part and parcel' - And not necessary to be followed by all anyway. There aren't 'rules' for song-list / concert format.

    There are norms, which change anyhow. (Please see Rithvik's innovation vs. tradition thread).

    Sounds good? Good. Sounds bad? Sing at home.


  23. Just a general wonderment - I love warm up pieces in Carnatic music -varnam, faster song etc. But, it is interesting that hindustani musicians start off with singing the slowest of aalapanais. I wonder what differs that makes Carnatic concerts need/perform better with a warm up piece.

  24. @Sandeep : "There aren't 'rules' for song-list / concert format." - I think it is very true .. but don't you think there is a need to document the rules ?

  25. @Arunachala Karthik - Absolutely no need to document such things. There aren't rules for a reason, why create them just for the sake of documentation?

  26. @Sandeep: why I think that there is a need to document is because music is evolving everyday taking new forms , which become tradition later on..! how many of us still remember the 7-8 hour concert which existed about 50 years ago ? (I think that format is extinct now..) and how many of us vote for the mic-less concerts ? these things will become like something new after 50 years from now , if not documented today..

  27. the point is to make sure someone doesn't end up rediscovering the wheel after 50-60 years from now ; by just looking at the documented format , he knows these forms already existed at some point of time in the history of Carnatic Music!

  28. @Vivek : nice observation.. I think Hindustani music has the liberty of having more time to handle individual Qayals and say 45 mins for an item..they can afford to start slow, speed up in small slices , ( unlike in Carnatic music , where only nadai change causes change in speed), and exhibit their voice culture skills .

  29. @Arunachala Karthik - Trends ARE documented. What you are talking about is documenting RULES. Which I disagree with...

    As music evolves, it is being documented through audio/video recordings, blogs, song-lists, reviews, forums, etc etc. THAT is the documentation so that after 50 years people can look back and see what was the norm in 2010.

    However, there are no RULES to be documented, because who would say what is the right or wrong rule? Who are you or I to say what is the 'rule' and document that?

    For example I have issues with some of the points you included and failed to include in your comment regarding the 'composition of a concert.' So right there, there is no 'rule' on what can acceptably make up a concert, rather trends and informed decisions that people make.

  30. @Bharat: MAdhayama shruti for a main! Imagine the plight of violinists!

  31. @At all the Clueless and respected Pakki Paiyaas / ponngals !!! Edhukaga da padaringaa? To connect with Param-atman or to appease Audience ? all of the above maculay putra & putris, get your basics right first. Just try to answer yourself the following Questions :

    1. Who are you?
    2. Why are you Singing?
    3. What are you singing?
    4. What is the meaning behind each krithi /pallavi you are singing?
    5. What was the aim of the composers?
    6. From where the composers derived their knowledge for composing?
    7. What are the roots of carnatic music? (Vedic Roots)
    8. What is your Dharma as a Musician?
    9. What do you know about its evolution timeline?
    10. What got changed / distorted / obfuscated in our civilizational intelligentsia due to effect of colonization?

    11. Look at all of us, we are using English as the medium of communication to even discuss about this music which is very alien to this language itself? What a pity? Isn't something drastically wrong " its like learning greek in tamil" !!

    If you guys don't think now !! All of your ventures ahead in future is going to go down the drain for sure. First Know for yourself, the answers for all these questions. The Carnatic music has already reached its lowest ebb in recent Carnatic Symphony ..Shame !! If you think these points now, it may save you from selling your conscience in future.


    A Carnatic Musician & A Sanatana Dharmi


Please leave your comments below. Thanks