Saroja Gulaal Nikaalo

Hello Everybody,

Howareyoufineaa?

Advance apologies for a generally rambling, pointless, rudderless, multi-topicked post on many things in general and nothing in particular. Since the seminal “How to attract blog readers and influence millions” told me that individual blog posts must be

  • Focussed on a single theme like a sniper rifle on its target in order to be linkable – Blog aggregators (like Desipundit, Blogbharti etc) will have trouble writing summaries for your post if it deals with multiple, unrelated topics.
  • Have a kickass start, six-pack middle and mind-blowing end in strangely reversed anatomical order.

I have decided to follow those rules religiously. So this post will deal with

  • Holi,
  • Concerts at Tambram weddings
  • Fusion music

Friday was Holi, a spring festival where people throw coloured powders that symbolically contain Neem, Kumkum and Turmeric but really contain Lead Oxide, Copper Sulphate and Aluminium Bromide instead, on each other. Yet another fine example of the great Indian tradition of carrying forward the ritual meaning while leaving behind the rational significance of using real herbs to immunize people against the coming diseases of summer.

But hey, leaving aside the toxic chemical hazard, it is a festival of colours, a chromatic orgy of fun, games and bhang.

My friends in Delhi also inform me that it is also the one day when you can surreptitiously make physical contact with women without being accused of harassment or eve-teasing.

Do Holi colours also have subliminal psychological overtones? For e.g, does Rinku smear Bunty with a lot of green to suggest that she doesn’t quite appreciate his flirtatious overtures with Goldy? Or does Monty hint at his upcoming poor board-exam results by covering his father with red? I don’t know, but it’s an area that deserves some serious research funding.

And as somebody who knows a few design folks, all of whom suffer from an annual migraine at looking at the random, uncoordinated riot of colour that is Holi, I propose that we create a “Color safe Holi Zone” where there will be strict adherence to colour palettes such as

colorschemes

I can imagine conversations such as

Designer 1: Happy Holi (and attempts to smear a shade of bright green on Designer 2)

Designer 2: Hang on a minute. Is that #BCDD11? You’ve got to be kidding me. Did you even see the other colours on me? If you’ve got #E6FF0D I’m ok. Or even #D2FF00 for that matter, but #BCDD11 is a strict no no.

And on Sunday, I attended a wedding where the backdrop was provided by the bride and groom collecting gift tea sets from invitees and the background music was provided by Mandolin U Rajesh playing fusion music.

For the uninitiated, the definition of Carnatic Fusion music:

A genre of music where the brahmin carnatic notes steadfastly refuse to mix and harmonize with the non-brahmin western notes and instead, continue to live in the agrahaaram of the usual Raaga alaapanaas and kalpanaa swaraas while the rest of the band tries to figure out if Am and Dm go well with Natabhairavi.

But to be fair to U Rajesh, he is an incredible instrumentalist and it’s not really his fault. There were two problems there:

1. The is a difference between Carnatic and Western music that most musicians seem to completely ignore – Let me explain that with a graphic.

carnaticwestern

So, carnatic notes slide around on roller skates performing acrobatic pirouettes called Gamakam and Brigaa while the poor western ones are stuck with plain old legs. And in party where there are people who wear both plain old shoes and roller skates, I’d imagine that there will be quite a few unseemly collisions.

And that is usually what happens at most “fusion” concerts.

2. The whole thing about concerts at weddings: Picture this.

  • Musical notes are are sent out from U Rajesh’ instrument go on a bold journey to the listener’s ear.
  • Non-musical notes such as discussions about Soap serials, the birde’s saree, the quality of filter coffee, and the upcoming annual 22-yard Monsoon (the seasonal rain that arrives in Chennai as soon as an international cricket match is announced) form a loud, chaotic queue in front of the listener’ ear.
  • Musical notes plead – “Please let us pay a visit to the Shrine of the Ear”
  • Non-musical notes retort – “Get in the queue. We ain’t done yet”.
  • So while the A minor scale and Natabhairavi wait in queue, a particularly nasty non-musical note whispers “Did you have dinner? Please have dinner before you go” into the listener’s ear.
  • Listener leaves to go eat some food (and waste a lot), leaving behind disconsolate notes that wither and die a sad death

So I strongly urge people to stop these wanton deaths and instead, play a CD at weddings.

31 Comments

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  1. Hahaa… Good one.. and I am first today too.
    Holi is so much fun, even without Bhaang.
    Yes, Ive had similar experiences with kalyana katcheris. However, I think the whole point of the katcheri is not for the notes to enter the shrine of one’s ear but to display to the world the scale of the wedding and it’s grandeur which amongst other things is determined by the popularity of the musician who is singing or playing to the audience. I was once at a gounder kalyanam in Erode, where most definitely nobody cared about which raagam Sudha Raghunathan was singing in.

  2. So you are the Desi Tom Ridge – responsible for the Holi-land alert color scheme. And as previous commentor states gamakas and bhrigas are lost to the average wedding goer (gounder or otherwise) , bhairavi or nata. Fair enough about Rajesh, after all nata everyone is Ilaiyaraja and not every fusion is En Iniya Pon Nilave or Kannan vanthu paadugindraan ( I think it is Natabhairavi based – not sure.).

  3. Hehe the colour coding is hilarious like the ones on a resistor….20% indicating you can have fun around and physical contact , Silver 10%indicating you can have your fair share of fun-but physical contact is a no-no and gold 5% to indicate stay out my way I know whom to have fun with …. …..Yellam ok bridegroom saree na yennae ?
    Ashok: Saary for the disturbance. Mishtake corrected. (shady excuse warning) – I was watching Eddie Izzard before writing this, and I suppose his transvestite antics interfered with my writing process

  4. playin a cd at a wedding is definitely the best option..no sense in the real deal anymore…noone pays any attention anyway!

    n holi..tho fun it is a PAIN when u hv to try washin the colours off! my sis just HAD to go n marry a marwari n his family believes in ‘the more colour, the merrier’…rite now im a mixture of blue,green,pink and other weirder hues 😦

  5. There is another form of “fusion” (one that comes on Podhigai sometimes) where one veena (amplified electrically to produce delightfully artifical sound), one violin, one flute, one Carnatic keyboard in “Strings” mode (with the joystick-like note-bender), one ghatam, one mridangam, one morsing, one kanjira, one mridangist playing the drums like a mridangam, and in the middle of all this, one acoustic guitarist with bad mic in low volume playing C-F-G in loop (he could be replaced by Garageband, but then the “band” would lose its “fusion” tag) all playing Raghuvamsa Sudha.

  6. hahaa.. the roller skates is true… did you think iyer mama’s in mylapore eat all that ghee for nothing? slippery as an eel…
    and yeas of chewing that vethalai sure gives a distinctive hollow to the moth, causing notes to reverberate and coalesce into one another before bursting forth as carnatic!

  7. I remember that even 10 years back… when my older cousins (young then) got married… usually it was a instrumental music cassette playing in the background, and later it turned out to be film songs… and it was only 3-4 years back I got to know that its fashionable to invite a performer (carnatic artiste) to do live instrumentation during the reception… its surely in bad shape … there needs to be some respect for music they sing – and not just a mere showpiece…

  8. ” There is another form of “fusion” (one that comes on Podhigai sometimes) where one veena (amplified electrically to produce delightfully artifical sound), one violin, one flute, one Carnatic keyboard in “Strings” mode (with the joystick-like note-bender), one ghatam, one mridangam, one morsing, one kanjira, one mridangist playing the drums like a mridangam, and in the middle of all this, one acoustic guitarist with bad mic in low volume playing C-F-G in loop (he could be replaced by Garageband, but then the “band” would lose its “fusion” tag) all playing Raghuvamsa Sudha. ”

    LOL … one of the best murderers of carnatic music in the name is none other than Rajesh Vaidya…

  9. To Fuse or not to Fuse? If that is the question then do read this:

    http://kaminidandapani.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/01/to-fuse-or-not.html

    Sorry, am a bit contrarian. And puhlease do not delete this comment as “ensuitable”… you see I dread Holi, like no other day. Not even exams have me so terrified. Why do all those, with colours on their faces look like absolute monsters, out to do some villiany??!

    Must be my timid southie genes….

    Now dont tell me there’s none among you who shares my viewpoint.

  10. Unga thalaiki pinnaala oru (H)Oli vattam theriyudhu pa…. 22 – yard monsoon (Been searching for a term to represent the phenomenon and u did ‘el perfecto’)…..

    Kannaalam – Vandhama, sight adichama, saaptoma, nenachaa vandhu usura edukuraanga ‘fusion’ungura perula. And it doesn’t end here. Novel weddings involve the couples goin for a duet, which I suggest they should save it for their honeymoon locations….

  11. I have often wondered on the topic of having live concerts at wedding receptions. On the one hand, it seems insulting to the artiste to invite him/her and not pay sufficient attention. On the other, the purpose of a wedding is to socialize with friends/relatives. If anyone has ever asked an artiste what he/she thinks, please comment… My guess is that they wouldn’t mind the irreverence/inattention, because they get to display their art and make some money!

  12. You have your fav punching bags dont you, KA – Carnatic music, TamBrahm weddings. 🙂

    lol @ ‘a particularly nasty non-musical note whispers “Did you have dinner? ‘
    I know- they make you feel like you’ve come just to eat. Well maybe we have, but why make it obvious?!!

    @ Ambika: thou art not alone!! And please, it has nothing to do with timidity!!

    As someone from neighbouring Andhra, where Carnatic music has almost vanished from public culture, even TV and Radio (except for the regulation half hour slots on DD and AIR) I have utmost admiration for the way the Tamils keep it alive; so the ‘disrespect’ factor of having it as background music at weddings doesnt bother me. I appreciate the intent. 🙂

  13. Hari A.:

    I know for a fact that there are only two reasons for marriage concerts (from the artist’s point of view) – (a) some obligation-type thing to fulfil (“The groom’s uncle’s co-brother gave a job to my sister’s brother-in-law’s son’s best friend…”); or (b) money.

  14. You know whats worse at Brahmin weddings? “Light Music” “concerts”.

    “Otagatha kattiko” playing in the background:

    Maami#1: Ayyo! Yenna maami padara intha kalathla?

    Maami#2: Yen peythi yeppopaathulum MTV thaan pakara. Thunimani podama aadindirupaa. Kannu kusarthu maami.

    And yes, this “concert” is ignored as well. But then again, it is deserved to be 🙂

    “Did you have dinner? Please have dinner before you go”

    That reminded me of Jobi enacting the scene 😀

  15. the one day when you can surreptitiously make physical contact with women without being accused of harassment or eve-teasing

    I was under the impression that you can do it only if you’re six ft tall and sing ‘rang barse’ with a siren from the south.

    It also brings an indianized version of wet-tshirt- contests when men and women are drenched in their white kurtas n salwars…

  16. Gamakams in western singing are called “Runs”, the kinds back street boys, westlife, and every other wannabe American Idol professional attempt..
    So music is same..
    Its the musician that matters.. 🙂

  17. I stand up to applaud you, dear saar. Your explanation of the difference between western notes and carnatic was simply too good. Who ARE you?!! Am going to get my paatu teacher to check your blog out.:) Cheers!

  18. Couldn’t agree more! Won’t CD music do to set the required “ambience” for all the ‘arattai’ and ‘vambu’? Live concert romba thevaiyaa?!!

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