CHENNAI: Music enthusiasts not only listen to music, but also want to discuss about it, right? And when that opportunity comes with a cup of hot chai and sumptuous potato bondas, who doesn’t want to be a part of it?
Can dance or films or a piece of music album be devoid of songs? What’s the essential nature of Indian classical music? How did the late Mandolin U Srinivas manage to popularise the Italian instrument in Chennai? Does raga have existence without song? Why musicians display a lot of mannerisms when they sing on stage? How innovations are necessary to sustain the audience’s interest without destroying the essence of classicism?
The noted hindustani-classical vocalist-violinist Sriram Parasuram brought the focus on these questions at designer-photographer Bhargavii Mani’s photography exhibition titled ‘Arpana’, recently. At the event, he also quoted instances from his own experience as an artiste. “There is a song for every occasion, but we don’t realise it. Songs are beautiful that you don’t need a reason to listen to them on repeat,” said Sriram.
He then discussed the idea of songs, uniting all aspects of existence, citing the life of Meera, Andal and Lord Krishna as examples. Sriram delved deep into the aspects of how authentic western instruments like mandolin and violin played a vital role in Indian classical music.
According to Sriram, every instrument is seasonal. “No instrument can enjoy its celebrated status for a longer period of time. Initially, it was nadaswaram and then veena. After some time, it became violin. Tomorrow, it could be something else,” he said.
Talking about the importance of experimenting with instrumental music, Sriram said that each aspect of carnatic music was an ocean in its own right.
Later, he spoke about how Srinivas performed without compromising on manodharma aspects.
“It is not easy to often see people with potentials perform rare instruments. Srinivas predominantly used ‘vocal’ approach to the instrument. If he had chosen any other instrument, I doubt, if he would have succeeded. You see, you don’t choose instruments, they choose you,” said Sriram.
Sriram spoke about the quiet change in the audience profile, which has brought a subtle transformation in the classical music sphere.
“If the music is engaging, you could make the audience sit throughout the concert, no matter what you perform. Like musicians, rasikas also need constant pursuit, which motivates the musicians,” he said.
Towards the end, Sriram said the artistes needed to know what they did not know and demonstrated how technical nuances like gamakas were essential in recitals.
He elaborated how gamakas had changed over the years and played the range of ragas like Saaveri, Thodi and Revathi and the subtle variations of the swaras.