Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Playing with the Raagas

It is no secret to my friends, when I tell them that one of the things in life that I am really vocal about is the fact that I cannot go vocal. My mother, like every other, had a wish in mind, "Oh, my son should be well versed in the world of Carnatic". But, I think she did not have to wait too long for the realization that her son was way beyond music. I assume she must have understood when I let out my first cry. Now, unlike every other mother, she made it a point to remind me "Please don't sing!", and slowly and steadily, the request turned to treacherous rebukes, "Just don't open your mouth". Looking back in time, I wonder I could have done a lot of service to the family. If ever there was an unwanted visitor, I could have let out my Raagas, which in turn would have caused havoc to the visitor. But, the problem with that was, even the people at home would have run helter skelter.

Now, I have to make something absolutely clear. Just because I am blessed with a "great" voice doesn't mean that I am scared to display my musical abilities. The restroom serves as a great place for me to accept the Grammys and Oscars. I am the "all" - music, lyrics, anchor and what not, and I do not have to worry about who is listening. But, my school room mates would be ready to pounce on me for that. They claim to have endured timeless suffering that my voice has caused. It is a different matter that I beg to differ on that, and say that I have been a great source of entertainment over the years. It is an argument that has no definite answer. Yadu recently was commenting on my bathroom singing. It is very easy to determine the temperature of water, thanks to you, he said. You voice quivers when the water is cold, and you are shouting away to glory, when it is at an optimum temperature. I am sure Venkatesh would have seconded that.

All said and done, it is important to enjoy good music. Over the years, as I tried to explain the finer notes to my brother, he would say, "Unakku sangeetha nyaanam illatiyum, nanna paatu keka mattum theriyum", I have grown up listening to different kinds of music that my ears have got accustomed to a nice sense of hearing (really?). Music has an aura of its own that can soak all the pain in the world, and provide a sense of warmth, cutting across all classes of the society (Had I been in an auditorium, I would have got a standing ovation for this statement).

Last week, we had the honour and privilege of listening to Ustad Zakir Hussain(at the tabla) and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (with the santoor) at the Carlsen Center in Overland Park. I have to say that it was music at its highest quality. Pristine, absolutely pristine! I just thanked God that at least, I have it in me to appreciate such high quality music, even if not in a position to render one that is even several notches below that of these maestros. We were just left spellbound at the end of the performance. It was a classic case of time warping as we were glued to our seats for the entire duration of the performance, only to realize at the end of it that two and a half hours had elapsed. I thanked my stars and could hear my brother's voice reverberating in my ears "You have absolutely no idea of music, but you invariably appreciate the song by providing technical details." I will live with that for the rest of my life with no regrets!


  1. Yet another self deprecating post about your singing prowess! Being a connoisseur of music you can easily learn and master it. Dont give up yet :)

  2. Now that's a topic rather offbeat from your usual musings! I too witnessed Zakir Hussain in concert last year, and it was enchanting, to say the least. Like you said, even I know next to nothing about classical music, but it doesn't take an expert to appreciate it!

  3. You are not the only one ! I too have failed miserably at music.. but I love to listen to various genres..

  4. A couple of years back, i really couldn't understand how music was so important to people! But now, I'm hooked completely to music! I wonder how that happened, must be my friends! Oh, it's nice to know that you have concerts in Kansas!! You sing too? Curious, curious...

  5. Anon,
    Mmmm...let's see about that; knowing my musical abilities, I may not be able to master it in the next seven births :-)

    Actually, the maestros are there in the bay area on Apr 11, so if you are interested, you should book the tickets and get going!

    Me and singing!!! Very very far from it!!! There is no reason to be curious, it is a point blank NO!!! :-)

  6. The very fact that you enjoy music makes you blessed.