Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

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Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:37 am

Even when we analyze Maestro's works as objectively as possible, I believe we should also know what others think of his music, especially the purists, which I cannot ignore. Couple of weeks ago I happened to watch a video organized by 'The Hindu' on a discussion between eminent Karnatik music expert T.M.Krishna and Gopalkrishna Gandhi about former's recent book, 'A Southern Music - The Karnatik Story'. TMK poured some quite interesting facts and insights and also how basically every word related to Karnatik was wrongly used. Please watch this video.



It tempted me to buy the book as I know he would have written Karnatik music influence in Cine music. As I suspected there was a complete chapter devoted to it. It is called, 'The sound of cinema' where he writes about how karnatik music influence is felt in film music. He briefly touches the film music history. As expected he comes to 'The ILaiyaraaja Phenomenon' where he appreciates few of his works, but mostly he is very critical about his approach. I am pasting what he wrote. I don't much agree with his understanding of IR's works. I would like to know your thoughts too.

T.M.Krishna wrote:The ILaiyaraaja Phenomenon - The advent of Ilayaraja in the mid-70s is another interesting phenomenon in the complex relationship south Indian cine music shares with Karnatik art music. Initially, he was considered to be a musician who brought flk music into south Indian films, but with his understanding of Western classical and popularmusic, he changed the very arrangement of music and the role of musical instruments in films. During his time, electronic sounds were given form and shape.

T.M.Krishna wrote:What makes Ilayaraja an interesting personality from the position of Karnatik music is the way he composed many tines based on Karnatik ragas and juxtaposed them with complex harmonies. Examples of such melodies include 'Poonkadhave' (Nizhalgal, 1980), 'Kundhalile' (Balanagamma, 1982) and 'Anandaragam' (Panneer Pushpangal, 1981). This was something that had  never been tried at this level in Indian film music. Though composers like M.SViswanathan and T.K. Ramamurthi had used Karnatik ragas as the basis for melodeis in the new film music context of the 1960s, their instrumentation did not have this Western classical approach. Ilayaraja was largely successful in this bringing together of unconnected elements from different musical traditions.

To be continued...


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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:15 am

He picks two important films Shankarabharanam and Sindhu Bhairavi and analyses them with relation to Karnatik music.

T.M.Krishna wrote:The Rise of Cine-Karnatik

It is not my intention to provide a historical summary of the south Indian cinema industry, but, as a musician, to track the journey of Karnatik music through its many frames.

Where Karnatik music remains a source of inspiration to Tamil cinema, even if at a many-times-removed distance, I am interested in certain perceptual overlaps and actions over the last two or three decades. These I believe, have influenced Karnatik music, the musians and the listener.

Of particular interest are two films, released within a few years of each other, that specifically dealt with Karnatik music. The first was Shankarabharanam (Telugu, 1979), which was also released in multiple languages and went on to become very successful. The music director was the legendary K.V Mahadevan. This film is considered to have revived a huge interest in Karnatik music outside its stronghold. A number of Telugu films that followed in Shankarabharanam's wake used many Karnatick music elements.

How 'Karnatik' was the music in the movie? This is a question that could have been, and I have no doubt was, asked of Shankarabharanam. It appears like a redundant question, because the music of a film, even it it is names after a raga, need not be completely true to the Karnatik. But as it happened, the theme demanded an honest depiction of a Karnatik musician. While the melodies were largely based on Karnatik ragas and talas, none of the playback singers were Karnatik musicians. This gave the melodies a distinctive cine-Karnatik feel.

This sense of Karnatik music existed even earlier in cinema music, but came into sharp belief in this film about a Karnatick musician. An idea of Karnatick music, which is not art music in its true sense but nonetheless has the perceptible connection to it, had now been clearly established in cinema.

How do I explain this? Extremely difficult as it is, I will try. Just was we have speaking accent depending on our language and the locality we live in, every musical form has a singing accent. This is defined by the aesthetics of the music.

A generic term used for Karnatik music is 'heavy'. A sense of weightiness is associated with it. This comes for the method of vocalization, emphasis, pronunciation and in the essential nature of the melodic movements. Now, this heaviness is sought to be diluted in what I call cine-Karnatik.

Karnatic music, we should note, requires a kind of guttural emphasis when certain phrases are sung, giving them definition and stability. This is usually done away with or cushioned in cinema. The general use of the voice is very different in light music, where 'softness' and 'pleasantness' are considered important, especially in 'melodious' songs. If we put all this together, we have the sound of cine-Karnatik music. I am deliberately not using the phrase 'quasi-Karnatik' because 'quasi' has a pejorative connotationn, like 'pseudo' does, and I do not want to be negative here. But recognizing this is essential to an understanding of what Karnatik music 'sound' means to a film music aficionado.

Every Karnatik music student hear film music and can be an active participant in its appreciation.This has led to a certain spillover of the cine-Karnatik sense into the art music form. While such an influence may not be intentional, it has definitely made its presence felt. Some may feel that this is part of the form's musical evolution. I do not agree. We have to analyze every influence in the context of what the music itself is, where it comes from and what it means. I believe cine-Karnatik fails this test and, hence, is not part of Karnatik music's development process. The internal aesthetics of the music are disturbed wheren its sound is altered on the basis of an external influence. We need to analyze Karnatik music in the context of its existent expression and see if the influencing cinema has a place under its sun or not. A blind acceptance of any influence as being part of a larger process of evolutionary change is unacceptable, as it defies the basic nature and dynamics of Karnatik music.


Next comes his take on another important film in Karnatik context…Sindhu Bhairavi.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  fring151 on Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:44 am

T.M.Krishna wrote:Every Karnatik music student hear film music and can be an active participant in its appreciation.This has led to a certain spillover of the cine-Karnatik sense into the art music form. While such an influence may not be intentional, it has definitely made its presence felt. Some may feel that this is part of the form's musical evolution. I do not agree. We have to analyze every influence in the context of what the music itself is, where it comes from and what it means. I believe cine-Karnatik fails this test and, hence, is not part of Karnatik music's development process. The internal aesthetics of the music are disturbed wheren its sound is altered on the basis of an external influence. We need to analyze Karnatik music in the context of its existent expression and see if the influencing cinema has a place under its sun or not.

Far be it for me to question his views, but I do wonder what in his opinion constitutes Karnatic music development in the 20th century. Has it even evolved, according to him? Does he consider evolution to be unnecessary?

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:45 am

T.M. Krishna wrote:The second film in this discussion is Sindhu Bhairavi (Tamil, 1985). This hugely successful film used predominantly Karnatik music elements - once again, the story was about a Karnatik musician. The composer, the inimitable Ilayaraja, used a Tyagaraja composition, 'Mari mari ninne', in raga saramati. This was an interesting situation, as Tyagaraja had composed it in raga khambhoji and, more importantly there was an oral version of the song available. So, if Ilayaraja had wanted to, he could have used 'Mari mari ninne' as rendered in Karnatik music. Why he did not do so, I do not know. May be he felt that the meaning of the lyrics and the context of the film demanded another raga and melody? Only he knows and only he can tell.

But we can and must ask: what does this transposition of a composition from its parent rage onto another actually do to the kirtana? A great deal, actually. The essence of its being disintegrates. This is not to say that the film version of the kirtana was not beautiful. I am examining what the film version did to the integrity of the kirtana. As I said, the film song destroyed it. To me, the film version was unacceptable.

What was more interesting was the lack of reaction from the Karnatik music community. This lethargy was evidence of both a fear of the popular and, more significantly, a certain lack of confidence in the music itself. I for one wish questions had been raised, not because a particular film's use of a Tyagaraja kirtana would have been brought under the scanner, but because it could have led to a serious questioning of the veracity of changes that are made to compositions - not by film music directors, but by Karnatik musicians themselves. Essentially, Illayaraja was not doing something that Karnatik musicians had not done themselves.

This film also brought up another debate, again based on the same kirtana. In the movie, a member of the singer's audience asks him why he sings only in languages that the Tamil people do not understand. She comes up on stage and, in fact, renders a Tamil song in the same raga, complete with kalpanasvaras. This leads, in the film, to the musician going onto include a number of Tamil compositions in his recitals. That scene brought back the debate of the early twentieth century on the issue of language in music. It was clear also that no one had understood the role of language in art music beyond the confines of lyrical understanding. The fact that those beyond the Karnatik environment were discussing the issue of language in Karnatik music was most fascinating. It was a rare opportunity to understand the general perception of a complex issue. It emerged that even within the world of Karnatik music, language and its lyrical import was a strongly held idea, and this had been communicated to the world outside. As a community, we believed and still believe that when a musician renders a Tyagaraja kirtana, he must emote the word meanings of the compositions. This lack of a larger perspective - a matter I have delved into at length in a separate chapter - persists both within and outside the Karnatik music world and will probably never die.

Ilayaraja did something more. He consciously ventured into another territory; Karnatic music itself. Taking on the role of a vaggeyakara, no less, he invented scales and composed in the kirtana format. This, in my opinion, was an unfortunate venture by the great film musician - unfortunate for him and Karnatic music. Neither the ragas nor the compositions hold up as composite Karnatik music creations. But it would be wrong to critique only Ilayaraja, as he merely reflected the superficial understanding of Karnatik music that the music community itself had by then accepted. A raga was only a scale, which could be manipulated. A composition was a mix of lyrics, tala and raga. This rather immature and simplistic understanding of Karnatik music led to all musicians feeling that it could be easily handled, as Ilayaraja did. Although his compositions have not yet been accepted into Karnatik art music, the phenomenon deserves discussion. It reveals in Ilayaraja a certain understanding of raga that is a creation of Karnatik musicians.

He didn't clearly explain why he thinks the film version lacks the integrity of the kirtana. Unless he explains that it is difficult to accept his view point.

To be continued... His understanding on how people and karnatik musicians understood raga and a scale...naive.


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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:15 am

T.M.Krishna wrote:Another phenomenon that started in 1980s deserves mention. This is the popular series of lectures and programmes to cull out ragas used in films and then connect them to Karnatik compositions. What is important to remember is that the moment raga is taken out of the Karnatik music context, it is not a Karnatik raga any longer. The melodies in various other art forms, including cinema, use the melodies of the raga to create a composition within another artistic identity.


Sadly, this is not the general perception. Most people believe that a raga is only about scales. A scale is lowest common denominator, which is what film composers use along with certain phrases that they are familiar with. A raga does not end there. But no film music composer needs to justify a raga's identity in films. he need not be true to the idea of any raga. The film music composer needs only to be true to the context of the film. It is the Karnatik music community that seems to seek legitimacy through making serious raga association with the film world. But there presentations devalue Karnatik music more than anything else. Film composers are not Karnatik composers and do not seek to be. To them, Karnatik music is as much a source for ideas as is jazz, Sufi, pop or Arabic music. Each of these will be used if the cinema demands it.

There are those who argue that this drawing of parallels is a way of bringing people into the Karnatik fold. For a long time, I thought there might be a point to this. But after thinking deepy on the matter I disagree. When people come into the Karnatik fold through these lectures that connect film songs to ragas, their understanding is totally clouded.

T.M.Krishna wrote:Many would argue against this viewpoint. They would say that their window to Karnatik music was, in fact, film music. My problem is not with a person who listens to film music and is exposed to Karnatik music elements, thus leading him to explore the art form. My problem is with Karnatik musicians themselves speaking about elements in film music as being similar to Karnatik music itself. This correlation is dangerous. In making these literal comparisons, Karnatik musicians are blurring ideas of Karnatik music and disfiguring the thoughts of new entrants.

T.M.Krishna wrote:Neither film music nor fusion contribute to Karnatik music. You contribute by being in Karnatik music as a musician or listener.

His conclusion (on the chapter 'The Sound of Cinema'):
T.M.Krishna wrote:Karnatik music has and will always be a serious influence in south Indian film music. But this has to be viewed exactly for what it is; a source of musical ideas. Karnatik music itself does not exist in a film form, but only as itself. Efforts to increase awareness of the music must not look for vehicles outside of itself. It is important for Karnatik musicians to realize that these issues with perception are not a result of external misunderstanding. These are born out of carelessness. What is needed is introspection on how we perceive and present Karnatik music. This is what determines the view of the rest of the world.

Even those who are very casual listeners, knows that 'Karnatik music itself does not exist in a film form', just it takes the elements of it as a source. I am not sure if T.M.Krishna has ventured what is around him and whether he studied various listeners/musicians and their viewpoints before hurriedly concluding that is the case. I also think he has not fully ventured into film music to make some drastic conclusions. Just taking couple of examples here and there and a couple of pages in this field of research may not be enough is my humble opinion.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  vicks on Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:47 am

T.M.Krishna wrote:Neither film music nor fusion contribute to Karnatik music. You contribute by being in Karnatik music as a musician or listener.


^ this notion of a Karnatic "musician" being in "Karnatic music" is rather conservative and perhaps even narrow minded- If I were to read between the lines, I would say there is strong hint of community snobbery- ie; he considers a particular community (FYI, I belong to the same community as well, before someone accuses me  Smile ) to be the gatekeepers of Karnatic music - "I don't sing Ilayaraja/MSV/KVM songs in the Margazhi Kutcheris hence it is not Karnatic music."

IMO, his entire argument (from the various passages V_S ji quoted) can be reduced to a logic statement

IF
    you are not from this comm(eg: IR)
OR
    you are from this community (MSV/KVM et al) but do not hang out with his brethren singing the same keerthanas every year and participating in 'nEthu Kutcheri la upma vada sooper' discussions
THEN
    whatever you compose is not Karnatic music.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  fring151 on Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:34 am

^^

T.M. Krishna is actually quite liberal. See for e.g.

http://www.caravanmagazine.in/books/modern-classical


[size=11.818181991577148]Many hands moulded the concept of the raga and then built upon it a full school of music. In royal courts across south India—particularly in Thanjavur, under a Maratha dynasty—musicians found patronage and support. To write and set songs to ragas, there were poets: the exalted Brahmin trinity of Thyagaraja, Mutthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri, but also composers from other castes, such as the Thanjavur Quartet from the Vellalar community. The bhakti saints of the 1600s and 1700s used Carnatic ragas in their devotional hymns; so did harikatha artists in their half-narrated, half-sung dramatisations of Hindu mythology, and devadasis in their performances of sadir, the precursor to Bharatanatyam. As it evolved, Carnatic music proved welcoming and absorbent. It embraced the European violin and the north Indian kanjira; Brahmin performers but also non-Brahmin ones, such as the devadasis and the maestros of the nadaswaram and the tavil; spaces as varied as the court, the temple and the Sadir stage; and even influences as peculiar as British marching band tunes.[/size]

[size=11.818181991577148]The modern practice of Carnatic music, on the other hand, is just over a hundred years old. In a chapter titled ‘An Unequal Music’, Krishna describes how an urban Brahmin elite took over the art in the late 19th century, stripping it of the participation of other castes, of the sensuality of Sadir, and of anything else that did not fit into the sanitised concert called the kutcheri. “The single-point kutcheri constricted the idea” of Carnatic music, Krishna writes, “and, in doing so, eliminated all contexts that existed beyond this space.” Even as their domination of political and intellectual life in south India diminished, the Brahmins clung firmly on to Carnatic music. “This field, they believed, they held the title to, ignoring those they regarded as unimportant and neutralizing those they saw as threats. It was, literally, the last bastion.” In this reformulation of the art, a certain texture and diversity was lost.[/size]

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  fring151 on Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:40 am

I respect his views on the relationship of film music to Carnatic, even if I may not agree. He isn't disrespecting film composers as such, just seems to be making a clear distinction, which he believes exists, between "Carnatic art music" and raagams as they are used in film songs.

T.M.Krishna wrote:Ilayaraja did something more. He consciously ventured into another territory; Karnatic music itself. Taking on the role of a vaggeyakara, no less, he invented scales and composed in the kirtana format. This, in my opinion, was an unfortunate venture by the great film musician - unfortunate for him and Karnatic music. Neither the ragas nor the compositions hold up as composite Karnatik music creations.

Here, is he referring to the IR Mandolin kirtanas? Why do I suspect that this was perhaps exactly what some snob Vellaikaaran critic said of the symphony and hence IR's refusal to release it...

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  vicks on Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:12 am

@fring - so looks like he's not a  "Katcheri = Karnatic" types - in fact, he seems to be critical of the 'urban Brahmin elites' who harbor such notions/reduced Carnatic music to this one format.

But that puts me back to square one -  he states that film music can maybe 'use' Carnatic Music but cannot 'contribute' to CM. (I previously interpreted this as "community snobbery")

Would like to know if he has clearly substantiated what he means by 'use' vs 'contribute'?

Also what is his definition of "musician" when he says " You contribute by being in Karnatik music as a musician or listener"

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:49 pm

Thanks fring for the link. I too don't seem to understand that, one time he speaks shedding the conservatism and everything should be encouraged, on the other hand he also says only a Karnatik musician can contribute to Karnatik music and others are only 'using' it and they don't contribute. One thing is sure, he does not like film music and their raga implementations can be called as any 'contribution' to Karnatik music, as he does not want anyone to draw any parallel to Karnatik music. He even protests anyone naming a film song in this raagam. I disagree there.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  Drunkenmunk on Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:22 pm

I agree with Fring. TMK is a liberal guy and I respect his views. But I don't understand why he considers film Karnatik lacking in integrity. The one example to offer a contrarian view can be the example of the CR Subburaman composed Chinnan Chiru KiLiyE KaNNammA for ManamagaL in 1951. What singers sing today popularly on stage was what was composed for the film by CRS and not the other way round  Laughing had to clarify this in one online discussion when I brought this example saying it was from Manamagal because one guy asked "isn't it a Carnatic song in the first place?" Well no Smile It could have been a Carnatic thukkudA (rendered as is with a superficial presentation of the raga where the tune and the lyrics appeal due to the singer's rendition rather than explore a raaga more deeply as in an aalaapanai, neraval, padham or jaavali) sung on stages but this tune went to Carnatic from films and no one today sings the song the way it was before Manamagal released (I'd believe there'd be some version sung on stage). Bruhi Mukundethi, the Sadasiva Brahmendra kriti which is sung on stage uses the tune sung by MS as Naradar in the film, Savithri. I don't know if MS used the tune that was being used for Carnatic renditions then. And this was all the way back in 1941. So there is the case of cine Karnatik giving and Carnatic taking. I wonder if TMK sings Chinnan Chiru on stage Razz 

But I do agree a film song can never go and become part of a neraval, padham or jaavali on stage because even the best composition of any raaga in a classical song in films can be considered superficial for the rigors of a Carnatic concert. But is it case enough to say it is lacking in integrity and dismiss it from the classical music sphere? Because there have been cases before on Carnatic taking from films from the examples I've given above (other examples are welcome, if there are anymore). I would like to know what TMK feels on this. Beyond this, I feel I may get out of my depths. Raaga_Suresh once said on twitter that he has some things to say on this. engu irundhAlum avarai mEdaikki varumAru azhaikkirEn Smile

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  kiru on Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:56 pm

"even the best composition of any raaga in a classical song in films can be considered superficial for the rigors of a Carnatic concert. "
Even as a non-music savvy music listener  Very Happy  this is my opinion as well.
TMK may not be a 'casteist' but probably a 'purist'. IMHO, his purism is a little misplaced and comes out as 'emotional'.
He needs to be a little bit more systematic and scientific in his analysis.
I dont see a distinction between 'composition' and 'performance' (may be unfair to say as I have not read the book - but readers please confirm).
With music system like carnatic (and jazz) a certain level of improvisations can be considered 'compositional'. but it has to be within the raaga and tune as well.
We cannot be singing the same compositions for centuries how much ever the 'improvisational' aspect is exercised.
We cannot take Carnatic as 'cast in stone' and keep doing the same thing for ever. As TMK agrees Carnatic musis is 'applied' in film music.
Usually 'application' of a technique can and should feedback into the system/framework. We also need to keep validating and exercising the framework and improving.
The only way this is going to happen is - that we make more listeners 'enjoy' (validate) a raagam or technique on a wider scale.
I think this is the reason, IR keeps pushing the limits all the time and sometimes he also tries the 'raagams' in a 'non-recommended' way to explore more.
As far as I know, IR is the major 'user' of the raagam 'framework' (to use the 'software' speak). As a major user, he/his art should be considered (and I think it is ) a major contributor to the framework. Just my 2 cents on this.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  fring151 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:46 am

We can partly avoid such hair splitting by simply naming new genres. How's "Progressive-carnatic"?  Wink . We haven't learnt this simple trick (which the western world learnt about 50 yrs back) of defining new genres so that purists of all stripes are kept satisfied that their genre name isn't being abused. So let's call KVM albums like Shankarbharanam or Sindhu Bhairavi "Progressive carnatic" . NEPV "Rajazz". That solves part of the issue. So, if a Carnatic vidwaan says Sindhu Bhairavi songs are not carnatic or a jazz Pundit argues NEPV isn't actually jazz, we can happily agree and point them to the actual genres  Wink

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  crimson king on Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:59 am

First of all, I would have to read the book to put his comments in perspective.  I am aware from reading the BRangan interview that TMK did not write the book to criticise Ilayaraja but to offer an overall perspective on Carnatic music.  What all did he have to say about the way it is practiced now, I would have to read that too.  I do intend to pick it up because it is a very significant Indian non fiction book, in itself a rare breed!  

With that said, his comments on film music are reflective of the problem faced by classical musicians generally from the 20th century and onwards.  It is nice to reach out but how far can they reach out without compromising the essential classical quality of their music.  I don't necessarily disagree with his statement that Carnatic is served by its musicians and listeners, rather than fusion or film music.  What I would like to see is more innovation and less puritanism in Carnatic music...puritanism of the sort that favours majestic stagnation to everything else.  Western classical music changed character three times (maybe even four) - from baroque to classical classical (i.e. Mozart, Haydn). While Romantic was more of an expansion of classical, it again changed form twice in the 20th century - from Romantic to serialism and finally minimalism.  Why is Carnatic still wedded to the kutcheri format? Not just that performance has primacy over composition (which is unfortunate), but even the pattern of the kutcheri - alabanai-paatu-swaram - has remained the same, right from the old Ariyakudi tapes my grandpa has to the current generation.  Since I don't see that TMK is opposed to that, I don't have a view on his position on it.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  crimson king on Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:01 am

By the way, does he offer any specific reason why he prefers Karnatik over Carnatic?  I have thought of Carnatic as the anglo-colonial term a la Bombay/Madras and Karnataka sangeetham as the actual term a la Mumbai/Chennai.  Why this Indo-colonial fusion?  Shocked

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  fring151 on Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:39 am

IMO it has a to do with the fact that Carnatic music is so inextricably linked to religion. That automatically precludes the possibility of excessive innovation and experimentation as unnecessary deviations make god angry. And I have never understood how a performer can be considered at par with a composer and why performers are treated like gods in carnatic circles in the first place. Western musical circles know to accord composers the respect they deserve. 

And forget about harmony, why can't carnatic musicians arrange (or compose) music for ensembles featuring traditional Indian instruments like our film music composers. Why does it HAVE to be monotonic with either voice or veena or violin leading the katcheri? Why not write and perform music (without harmony if that is considered a sacrilege) featuring ensembles of native instruments like flute, nadaswaram, veena etc etc. more regularly, ala "Vedham nee iniya naadham nee"  Wink . What exactly stops them from broadening and enriching the tonal palette of carnatic music (which, apart from harmony is one of the greatest strengths of the symphony orchestra).

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  crimson king on Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:05 pm

Absolutely...they should certainly consider exploring the 'band' size.  Having a few melodic instruments instead of just one (along with vocals) would bring an interesting dimension and it's not even that far out.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:39 pm

Very nice observations ck and fring. I agree with your points.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  SenthilVinu on Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:57 am

Thanks V_S for the post. I like the term progressive-carnatic! Cool.

I think I can see and agree with him that carnatic music and film-carnatic music are different.

Most principles of painting and cinematography are same. Most cinematographer study painting and apply same logic as a painter yet cinematographers are not painters. Film shots are not painting.  A cinematographer could become a great painter but it is never clear from his cinematography work.

Same could be said of stage actors and film actors. Most film actor will not meet the rigorous requirements of the stage.

I can see that there certain aesthetics and presentation with painting, stage acting and carnatic-art music that cannot be replicated outside of its sphere/methods.

His other criticisms are very common but very much stupefying.

First, if I understand correctly he is saying, when you make a movie with carnatic musician that deals with carnatic music, it has to be 100% carnatic-art music compatible, otherwise people will misunderstand real carnatic-art music. 

He is missing three important points:

1. Aesthetics.  His basic criticism is carnatic-art musicians are applying film-carnatic aesthetics and destroying carnatic-art music. So he cannot apply carnatic-art aesthetics on film-carnatic music and berate Raja for it. He does not see the hypocrisy in applying it in reverse and doesn't realize film has its own aesthetics. 

Film in general is an applied art. It does not care about the aesthetics of paintings, music, acting outside of its own aesthetics.  As long the film establishes and is consistent in it's own set of aesthetics, we can say it has done a good job.  


2. Authenticity. Oh, it is not authentic to the carnatic sub-culture.

This type of criticism is also thrown by doctors, scientist, police officers and other representative of their fields. Film is rarely concerned about the authenticity of the representation but it is very concerned about the authenticity of the emotions and underlying message of the film. 

As per these critics, one cannot find any temple statues resembling/fitting a real women hence it is giving wrong impression of the women of our land. We all know, temple statue has its own aesthetics and it is just an idealized version of femininity. 

If these critics are in fact criticizing idealism, then we get realism. carnatic music doesn't fall under realism. One can categorize folk music under realism but carnatic music is idealized version of it. So this critic is chasing his own tail.

Raja has conveyed the emotion and message perfectly in his songs so that any layman can feel and understand the carnatic-elite sub-culture even though 99% of them has not gone to a single carnatic concert. This is a great accomplishment. Instead of crediting Raja and K.B, this guy is busting them. Oh man.

3.  Sindhu Bhairavi is not criticizing carnatic music itself!!! It is only criticizing the stagnate and largely meaningless traditions like singing in Telugu, lack of innovate attempts by musicians, carnatic cliques and carnatic elitism in vogue. 

So the film music only innovates along those lines and not trying to give some masterclass to carnatic musicians. It is asking a basic question rather provide a complete answer and progressive roadmap and rules for future carnatic musicians to follow.

Let's say for an argument, we make a film about meaningless traditions in Cubism (like Picasso paintings). This guy is asking for a real painting in the film that will surpass Picasso. He is not happy with the perfect portrayal of the message in the film. Rather he is asking for the art director of the film to produce a painting that tops Picasso and cubism!! How absurd is to propose such an idea? But that's exactly what he is asking for it. Laughable.

Ironic part he is accusing Raja for inventing scales and changing lyrics. You know... innovations. oh my god, so bad. hmm...Meaningless criticisms. 

I am sure he will be upset if I call the girl in Mona lisa painting as Muthamma because that just destroys the whole painting and aesthetics that goes with it right?

How is carnatic-art aesthetics working for him in Tamil film music now? I would really like to know which era he prefers? Raja's application, misapplication, appropriation of carnatic-art music in films. Or the current film music era, auto-tuned ear-busters bereft of any carnatic music?

Madness.


Last edited by SenthilVinu on Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:04 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Typo)

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  app_engine on Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:45 pm

Nice insights, SenthilVinu - from a movie maker's aesthetics perspective!

It's quite obvious that life will be simple when people recognize and respect the domains that are not theirs (but it could also be boring Laughing)

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:00 pm

Senthil,
Welcome back! Where have you been? Smile

Well thought out write-up. the clap Thanks.

SenthilVinu wrote:If these critics are in fact criticizing idealism, then we get realism. carnatic music doesn't fall under realism. One can categorize folk music under realism but carnatic music is idealized version of it. So this critic is chasing his own tail.

SenthilVinu wrote:Raja has conveyed the emotion and message perfectly in his songs so that any layman can feel and understand the carnatic-elite sub-culture even though 99% of them has not gone to a single carnatic concert. This is a great accomplishment. Instead of crediting Raja and K.B, this guy is busting them. Oh man.

SenthilVinu wrote:Let's say for an argument, we make a film about meaningless traditions in Cubism (like Picasso paintings). This guy is asking for a real painting in the film that will surpass Picasso. He is not happy with the perfect portrayal of the message in the film. Rather he is asking for the art director of the film to produce a painting that tops Picasso and cubism!! How absurd is to propose such an idea? But that's exactly what he is asking for it.

From that chapter, one can see he is not very clear what he has to say, but he is sure carnatic music cannot be/should not be disturbed by film musicians which is not a good take. He is saying Raja destroyed the integrity of mari mari ninne by changing the raagam, but he didn't explain. You brought out excellently what could be in his mind and pointed that most would not have known about carnatic music without films. I understand, if a film song contains the same notes/swaras as the raagam denotes, without any deviation, he does not want them to be called carnatic song (which is ok, but still I disagree), as the presentation and aesthetics are different, but if he says we cannot call that song is in this raagam, that's where strongly disagree.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  fring151 on Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:05 pm

SenthilVinu - Agree largely with what you have to say.

SenthilVinu wrote:1. Aesthetics.  His basic criticism is carnatic-art musicians are applying film-carnatic aesthetics and destroying carnatic-art music. So he cannot apply carnatic-art aesthetics on film-carnatic music and berate Raja for it. He does not see the hypocrisy in applying it in reverse and doesn't realize film has its own aesthetics. 

Very good point, though hypocrisy seems too strong a word.

SenthilVinu wrote:Raja has conveyed the emotion and message perfectly in his songs so that any layman can feel and understand the carnatic-elite sub-culture even though 99% of them has not gone to a single carnatic concert. This is a great accomplishment. Instead of crediting Raja and K.B, this guy is busting them. Oh man.

Agreed. On the one hand, he acknowledges elsewhere in the book (My source is reviews as I haven't actually read the book myself) that Brahmins since the early 20th century have appropriated Carnatic music for themselves and done their best to keep others out, (including non-conformists from within their own fold like S. Balachander), and on the other hand, when someone tries to convey the essence of CCM to the paamarans without necessarily diluting the art form, but making it less rigid and more accessible, he hurls this accusation. Disappointing. I have not heard any famous WCM personality criticise John Williams or Ennio Morricone for destroying the authenticity of WCM or jazz.

Senthilvinu wrote:Ironic part he is accusing Raja for inventing scales and changing lyrics. You know... innovations. oh my god, so bad. hmm...Meaningless criticisms. 

Yes. that part rankles. He might not like IR's work in this regard and is free to criticise all he wants, but why call Raja's foray into this domain "unfortunate", as if he should have stayed well away from it? Puzzling.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  SenthilVinu on Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:23 pm

app_engine wrote:Nice insights, SenthilVinu - from a movie maker's aesthetics perspective!
It's quite obvious that life will be simple when people recognize and respect the domains that are not theirs (but it could also be boring )

Thanks App_engine. I know I am foraying into a domain I know very little, but then like you said, it won't be spicy! I think big critics needs some objectivity when they handle topic like this.

V_S wrote:Welcome back! Where have you been?

Pretty busy with making films. I really miss discussing with you guys and posting on songs though!

V_S wrote:From that chapter, one can see he is not very clear what he has to say, but he is sure carnatic music cannot be/should not be disturbed by film musicians which is not a good take. 

Exactly. This is troublesome. Very troublesome principle wise. This is the reason every fringe groups, political groups & special interest groups are up in arms asking to ban films and asking filmmaker to strictly to adhere to their own interpretation of their sub-culture. Filmmakers and films can do no such things because films are fictional, including Sindhu Bhairavi. And filmmakers have freedom of expression to present his point of view and his take, the way he sees it. If it offends your sensibilities then don't see the film or listen to the song. No one is forcing you. If Carnatic musician adopts film music form then go after him but leave film music alone.

V_S wrote:I understand, if a film song contains the same notes/swaras as the raagam denotes, without any deviation, he does not want them to be called carnatic song (which is ok, but still I disagree), as the presentation and aesthetics are different, but if he says we cannot call that song is in this raagam, that's where strongly disagree.

You inspired me. I am gonna put this disclaimer in my movie. All songs in the film are imaginations of the composer. Any resemblance to Carnatic ragas and swarams are purely coincdental and do not in anyway represent the real carnatic music -- past, present or future Smile 


fring151 wrote:On the one hand, he acknowledges elsewhere in the book (My source is reviews as I haven't actually read the book myself) that Brahmins since the early 20th century have appropriated Carnatic music for themselves and done their best to keep others out, (including non-conformists from within their own fold like S. Balachander), and on the other hand, when someone tries to convey the essence of CCM to the paamarans without necessarily diluting the art form, but making it less rigid and more accessible, he hurls this accusation. Disappointing.

One hundred percent right. I like to read his book.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  kiru on Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:47 am

@Senthil - welcome back .. love to read your writing..awesome post. I am not too worried about criticisms from so called 'purists'. Raja's talent is so extraordinary and his devotion to his art so exemplary anybody with a little bit of real interest in music are able to rise above any of their biases and appreciate him/enjoy his music. If some people cannot see what he is trying to accomplish we can only feel sorry for that person. They should just turn around ask themselves what have I done for music that this 'film guy' has not done.
Carnatic music is the music of our land it belongs to everybody ..especially the masses who practice it more albeit in a less refined form. As always, something that which has so much influence on our mind we dedicate it to the gods (either here or in the West). As Senthil mentions, film music is applied art and I dont think Raja has applied it 'irresponsibly'.

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Re: Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

Post  V_S on Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:09 pm

Another aspect which annoyed me a lot in that chapter is when he says 'film music does not contribute to Karnatik music'. I have been listening to carnatic krithis right from my childhood. I believe many of us do. With due respect to carnatic format, what I have observed so far is, they keep repeating the same standard raagams and krithis when there are million new raagams out there to explore. Only very few like Dr. BMK explore, others mostly play safe by taking a beaten to death (path) krithis in Kalyani or Khambhoji or Bhairavi and try to add their signatures. What value do they add by singing the same nidhi chaala sugama or himaadri suthE or evarimata or koluvai? Accepted they can be listened million times, but how does that contribute to the growth of carnatic music?

Even if we take some rare raagams like paavani, ragavardhini, rasika ranjani or revagupthi all they sing is one just song each in one raagam like a 'gopala pahimam' all the time, as if none other can write a  new krithi in those raagams. If we take popular raagam they will only sing some same 10 krithis all the time. We can easily guess what krithi they are going to sing. They wholly rely on yesteryear krithis (may be that's why they call it classical). They think by writing new krithis in new raagam is going to dilute the 'classical' nature as the raagams. Raagms are by themselves classical if I am not wrong.

If you ask any veteran who only listens Karnatic music all their life and throw them these raagams ; chitrambari, hema bhushani, kalaasaaveri, kaathyaayani, naaga nandhini, ramani, rasika ranjani, rishivani, saavithri, chandrajyoti, karnataka khamas and tons of rare raagams like this, they will end up clueless. This even goes true sometimes to the classical artists as well. But our Maestro (and other music directors) have composed numerous compositions in these rarest raagams that even Karnatic purists and listeners should feel shy of themselves. If we ask them to give/sing any (old) krithis from these raagams, again there will be none. Even in the popular raagam category, when might they have around 10 krithis, Maestro has got hundreds (for ex: keeravani). If this is not contribution to Karnatic music what else is?

Most importantly, they are just singing an already composed krithi. Only creation part comes in terms of singers is the way they add ornamentation to the existing krithi (except when they sing RTP where their creativity in that raagam excels), but they still comment on film music directors and composers who really create every composition right from scratch.

I can even summarize the whole Karnatic classical tradition to some 100 raagams (with few hundreds krithis) which they perform again and again over all these years with so many artists around and now new artists coming year after year. Do they even try to sing anything new? I doubt it. So there are problems existing in that front itself. Let them first cleanup their mess and then try to talk about film music and its (no) contribution to karnatic music, till then.

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