Tuesday, 10 February 2009
There is no other way to listen to a music concert, I have concluded.
The experience was so satisfying – in a darkened theatre, with the artistes pleasingly larger than life and the sound, glorious sound, pouring from all parts of the theatre in stereophonic splendour, excluding all other noises.
We had been invited to a special show of ‘Margazhi Raagam’ a film which was a presentation of a music concert by two big names in the Carnatic music firmament – Bombay Jayashri and T. M. Krishna. The show had been organized by Thejus Chandrasekhar in honour and memory of his mother, D. Patammal, who had composed more than 650 songs in Thamizh, in all the ragas of the 72 Melakarthas, and then some more.
Margazhi (December 15 to January 15) is the Thamizh month devoted to the Gods (and music in Chennai), and Raagam means melody.
It was intriguing. It was a film, and it was a music concert, said the notices. That the singers are two of the best today led to a high level of expectation, but I was not sure what to expect. The two artistes had presented live concerts together recently, and there had been conflicting reports on that.
The show was in the Sathyam theatre complex, and before the picture started, there was some western music in the background – which was not at all the right setting for a Carnatic concert. And the lights were dim, unlike at the halls where the concerts are held live, where they burn bright and are never dimmed. And I felt some trepidation.
But as the theatre darkened completely, and the credits came on the atmosphere was set. A dark auditorium can hold one enthralled as nothing else. All your concentration is on the one visible place of light. Here our senses were drawn to the screen to the exclusion of everything else. And when the music started, what bliss! Such pure sound, without any disruptions caused by faulty mikes or rude rasikas, who enter and leave auditoriums at will. It flowed from all sides, and it was divine. The aural quality was matched by the atmosphere of sanctity captured by P. C. Sriram’s camera.
The first song was by Jayashri, and her soothing voice and serene manner were captured delightfully by the sound engineer H. Sridhar (who died recently, and to whom the picture is dedicated) and cameraman Sriram. She sang two more pieces, and the final line of the 'raagam khamas' was picked up by Krishna after an interlude by the two percussionists.
Krishna’s entry was smooth. I had seen only one percussionist accompanying Jayashri and wondered where the other one had come from. He was Krishna’s accompanist! Krishna’s style was in direct contrast to hers, full of flamboyance and vigour, waking up the senses which had been lulled by Jayashri’s soothing voice.
After a couple of pieces by Krishna, the two sang together - in great harmony and perfectly complementing one another.
The final piece with just the tampura was a revelation. As was the whole experience.
Do read Ardra Vamshi's experience here.