The Concert Phenomenon

art, carnatic, cartoons, concert review, music, reviews / Saturday, December 31st, 2011

As I was seated in the concert hall listening to the first concert I attended this season, I thought I should vent out all my pent up thoughts and long observed findings into this write – up that I would like to call “The Concert Phenomenon”.

Come December, and it is margazhi music festival in Chennai. And thus, as the diversity of our place has it, we can find various interesting phenomena in and about a concert.

The oft – repeated one is about the culinary versus the artiste’s popularity. Sometimes we will not be able to distinguish which ‘Kesari’ is being praised.

Also most of the performers have taken up to talking at length in between their songs. Many of these talks are borne out of care for the music students / listeners, no doubt. But it pains when you see someone dozing off amidst audience – people, you don’t go unnoticed.

I think each person in the audience would exhibit one or more of the characteristics from the below categories –

  • There are the Maami’s sitting in the front row in new silk sarees and asking “yen maami, neenga indha pearl set evlo ku vaanginel? Unga saree color ku nanna suit aardhu…” (Where did you buy this pearl set? It goes well with your saree color) Excuse me, is someone listening to what is being sung.
  • Then there are these geeks who carry a book to the concert to read – a timepass for an entertainment is it? Reminds me of a tamil movie dialogue – “rest eduthu tired agi rest edukkaren”.
  • Next in list are the over enthusiasts whose interest in putting thalam is commendable; however, their boisterous nature and the fact that the thalam goes off beat, is not.
  • A special mention is needed to the youngsters who record the entire performance and thus miss out enjoying on the live one, and instead, spend the time in messaging.
  • Speaking of messages and mobiles, I forgot to mention the BGM providers! Uncles and aunties, who use mobiles to the barest minimum, feel uncomfortable having a silent profile. What ensues is a variety of ringtones as background music.
  • The most interesting ones however are those who carry a note book and pen in hand making a note of the song, ragam, thalam and composer for each of the item performed. Is this list going to be catalogued for historic reference by future generations?

Also available as aid to the above mentioned people are the ‘Ready Reference’ books. RRR (it has a nickname too!) has a collection of popular kritis and an abbreviation index in the glossary that you need to map to in order to use it. Reminds me of old schooldays where we used to do dictation – copy from book into notebook as the ‘recital’ goes on.

When the ‘aalapana’ goes to the madhyama kalam / higher notes, when the korvai is finished, when any frenzied manodharma piece is over, it is generally followed by a ceremonial clapping. If you do not clap or nod, you are bound to get a few quizzical glances. Excuse me, but I will definitely acknowledge the phrase that I personally relish.

The behind the stage scenes are yet another spectacle! It is regular to hear “excellent Kamboji it was”, “Thani pinnitel pongo!” and similar praises, backstage. But when someone comes and introduces themselves as the artiste’s “neighbor’s grandma’s onnu – vitta chithapa’s sammandhi’s second son; gnabagam irukka” (neighbor’s grandma’s second cousin uncle’s in – law’s second son; remember me?) or the likes, the artiste’s expression would be priceless!!!

Once the ‘mangalam’ has been sung, the wait is on for the next day newspapers / magazines to bring out the reviews about the concert. The expectations are not fully quenched sometimes owing to an extensive play of English vocabulary.

I have described above a few instances of interesting things that happen at a concert. The rest are left to the imagination of the readers!

–          Vid 🙂


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10 Replies to “The Concert Phenomenon”

  1. Good post. And I have seen all those people you have mentioned. But I am the one who keeps my mobile switch off or in worst case i put it in silent when i am inside a kutchery hall. Good write up !

  2. I have never been to a concert in Chennai but I can imagine all the things you’ve mentioned in this post.

    I have attended a couple of concerts in the place where I worked and there there were no trappings of silks and mobiles. It was bliss without any interruptions. Thanks for bring me back to this post.

    Joy always,

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