Different types of music connoisseurs

Published: 31st January 2013 07:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st January 2013 07:26 AM   |  A+A-

I developed a great liking to Carnatic music right from my younger days. I made it a point to attend music concerts whenever possible and I have listened to the great masters and doyens of Carnatic music over the years. More than listening to the musicians, it always gave me more pleasure to study the moods and reactions of the audience. The audience is a sober lot, gentle folk who come from far and near to hear the concert. I have met old men who have travelled 40 kms one way to listen to music concerts. 

One type of audience is the academic; the moment the vocalist starts on a new raga delineation he has discovered the raga and is seen excitedly sharing this information to his neighbours (who may not be very keen to absorb it) — “that is revagupthi, not bhupalam; though they sound similar”. Some also would be seen jotting down the song, the composer and the raga in a book for posterity. Sometimes the vocalist before starting a new raga would explain the technicalities of the raga; to most of the audience this would be Greek and Latin, but our academic friend laps it up.

The second type is the historian; he would be a regular at all music concerts and he has an encyclopedic memory of what raga a vocalist had sung way back in 1995. As soon as the vocalist starts a new song, he would say, “ah, this is his favourite. He revels in shahana — that is his trademark song.”

Then there is the serious type of audience. He usually sits alone, unmoving and intently watches the proceedings on the stage, as if he is watching a movie. He sits like a graven image, absorbing everything and yet totally immobile. Even when the rest of the audience breaks into applause when the vocalist completes a long raga delineation, he remains impassive. He is a total connoisseur and is a great admirer of carnatic music. Such people maintain a low profile and seek anonymity.

Then there is the eager-beaver type. He usually comes to concerts armed with a book that contains the raga of songs; the moment the musician starts on a new song, he is seen busy riffling the pages of the book trying to locate the song and the raga. He finds it and triumphantly proclaims to the world “this is shuddha dhanyasi” and then loses all interest in the further proceedings.

Then there is the snobbish type of audience who attend concerts of only great musicians, perhaps to brag about it to their friends later. Usually they arrive before the start, but when the first song ends, they exit.

The most common type of audience is the real fan — he comes before the start of the concert and sits right through till the mangalam is sung. He revels in the raga delineations, the violin solos and the gentle fight between the mridangam exponent and the ghatam artiste and appreciates the performance of all the artistes on stage. He may not know the technicalities of the songs but he is content to enjoy the sheer creativeness of the musicians in their efforts.


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