Monday, February 02, 2009

Music or Noise?

Indian classical musicians make all kinds of interesting gestures with their hands when they perform. Each musician has his or her own characteristic gesture, as distinctive as their voices or singing style.

But, all of them seem to share one gesture. Let me try to describe it in words. Left hand pointing to or touching the microphone and the right hand moving jerkily upwards, with the palm facing up. This gesture is performed invariably with the musician's face turned towards the person manning the amplification system. Even the accompanists are no exception to this. They repeatedly interrupt their playing and make this gesture.

The result of this is: EAR SPLITTING MUSIC . I stopped myself from saying noise. At that volume it is very hard to make out the difference.

You might say that I am being overly critical. But I am sure there are many who agree with me. When will our musicians see light? Not that there are none. Sri T N Krishnan for one, pushes the mic away, as soon as he settles down. So does Dr. N Rajam. Runs in the family, perhaps.

Recently, I heard Smt. Veena Sahasrabuddhe's concert. A rare early morning concert so that morning ragas could be presented. She sang Nat Bhairav and Bilaskhani Todi. Very good renderings. But the mic was so close to her mouth and the volume so high that we could hear sounds that should not be heard.

A week before that, I heard an all-night concert in which the same phenomenon was to be seen. I mean heard. There too Dr. N Rajam's concert was the sweetest (Darbari Kanhara. It was excellent.) as the sound level was on a human scale.

Musicians seem to have forgotten that they are practitioners of a fine art!

Are the musicians and organisers listening to this plea? Or should I turn the VOLUME WAY UP?


  1. If you want the musicians and the organisers to listen you, send this letter to the music magazines `Shruthi', or `Ananya Abhivyakti' or........ This column of yours wont reach them otherwise, right? (this may help me ofcourse ;)

  2. sorry, read it as `listen to you, you send this...'