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Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts

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counterpoint
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Post  fring151 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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Post  crimson king 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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Post  V_S Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:39 pm

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

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Post  SenthilVinu 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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Post  app_engine 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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Post  V_S 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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Post  fring151 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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Post  SenthilVinu 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 Criticisms on Maestro's music by music experts - Page 2 Icon_lol)

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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Post  kiru 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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Post  V_S 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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Post  fring151 Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:28 am

Good points V_Sji. That's why I wondered earlier as to who in TMK's opinion, post independence, has advanced Carnatic music. As you rightly say here,

V_S wrote: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.

performance cannot be conflated with composition.

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Post  SenthilVinu Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:18 pm

Thanks Kiru. I don't know why Carnatic music isn't wildly taught.. say for examples in schools?

Nice overview V_S. I should go and check out these concert. Haven't found an entry point for me.

Curiously, what are some of the greatest composition of Carnatic-art music while the film music was flourishing? May be even from 1900's onwards?

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Post  app_engine Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:42 am

Reg. some who helped the cause of classical music, this is an excellent interview of Madurai Mani that appeared in Thendral magazine:

http://www.tamilonline.com/thendral/article.aspx?aid=9101
(Needs registration / login, let me post some relevant portions below)


இவரது "கர்நாடக இசையும் சினிமாவும்" என்ற ஒலிப்பேழை பலரது பாராட்டுதலைப் பெற்ற ஒன்று.
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கே: பல மொழிகளில் நீங்கள் 350க்கும் மேற்பட்ட சாகித்யங்களை இயற்றியுள்ளீர்கள். அதுபற்றிச் சொல்லுங்களேன்.

ப: எனக்கு 24 வயதாக இருக்கும்போதே நான் இம்முயற்சிகளை ஆரம்பித்துவிட்டேன். அப்போது எனக்குத் தோணுவதை, மனதில் வருவதை ஒரு நோட்புக்கில் எழுதிக் கொண்டிருப்பேன். அதைப் பாடிக் கொண்டிருப்பேன். அதைக் கேட்டுச் சிலபேர் நன்றாக இருக்கிறதே என்று வாங்கிக் கொண்டு போவார்கள். பாடுவார்கள். அப்படிக் கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சமாக வளர்ந்ததுதான் அது. சொல்லப்போனால் என் கையில் ஒண்ணுமே இல்லை. தெய்வீக அருள்தான் இதற்கெல்லாம் காரணம்.

கே: உங்களுடைய முதல் சாகித்யம் எது என்று நினைவில் இருக்கிறதா?

ப: இருக்கிறது. "கயல் கண்ணியே" என்கிற தமிழ்ப் பாட்டு. ராகம், சக்கரவாகம். இரண்டாவது "ராஜ சுஹாமணி" என்கிற சம்ஸ்கிருதப்பாட்டு.

கே: உங்கள் பாடல்களெல்லாம் புத்தகமாக வந்திருக்கிறதா?

ப: தமிழில் வந்திருக்கிறது. 'தென்னவன் இசை உலா' என்பது பெயர். நேற்றுக்கூட சாயிபாபா கோயிலில் அதை விற்றுக் கொண்டிருந்தார்கள்.

கே: ஆடியோவிலும் வந்திருக்கிறதா?

ப: ஆமாம். அந்தப் புத்தகத்தோடேயே அதன் சி.டி.யும் கிடைக்கும். 41 பாடல்களையும் அதில் நானே பாடி விளக்கியிருக்கிறேன். ஏனென்றால் வெறும் நொடேஷனாகக் கொடுத்தால் சரியாக வராது, பாடுவதற்குக் கஷ்டமாக இருக்கும் என்பதால் நானே சுருதியெல்லாம் விளக்கி அதில் பாடியிருக்கிறேன். அதைக் கேட்டுப் பயிற்சி செய்து பாட முடியும்.

கே: இந்த புக்கை ஆன்லைனில் ஆர்டர் பண்ண முடியுமா?

ப: இல்லை. என்னுடன் தொலைபேசியில் பேசினால் கிடைக்க நான் ஏற்பாடு செய்யமுடியும். என் நம்பர்: 044 24913600; 044 24465697.
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கே: நீங்கள் இசை சொல்லித் தருகிறீர்களா?

ப: ஆமாம். ஸ்கைப்பில் ஆரம்பித்திருக்கிறேன். ஆனால் நான் ரொம்ப தொடக்கநிலை சங்கீதம் சொல்லித் தருவதில்லை. கொஞ்சம் நன்றாகப் பாடுகிறவர்களாக இருந்தால் சொல்லிக் கொடுப்பேன். நான் கத்துக்க வறவாள்ட உங்களுக்கு சங்கீதம் கத்துக்கணுமா, இல்ல பாட்டுக்கள் கத்துக்கணுமான்னு கேட்பேன். ஏன்னா ஸ்கைப்பில் அடிப்படை சொல்லிக் கொடுப்பது கொஞ்சம் கஷ்டம். கேட்கறவாளுக்குப் பொறுமை இருக்காது. ஆனா கீர்த்தனைகள் அப்படி இல்ல. 300, 350 கிருதிகள் என்கிட்டேர்ந்து கத்துக்கலாம். இதற்கு என்னோட gsmani1008@gmail.com என்ற மெயில் முகவரிக்குத் தொடர்பு கொள்ளலாம்.
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கே: இளைய தலைமுறையினருக்கு என்ன சொல்ல விரும்புகிறீர்கள்?

ப: இசையைக் கற்பது குறித்து சந்தோஷம்தான். ஆனால் அதை ரொம்ப எளிமை என்று நினைக்கக் கூடாது. கச்சேரி பண்ணுகிறார்களா, இல்லையா என்பது வேறு விஷயம். வாழ்க்கையின் இறுதிவரையில் என்னுடனே இசை இருக்க வேண்டும் என்ற எண்ணத்துடன் இசையை எடுத்துக் கொள்ள வேண்டும். அதுதான் ரொம்ப முக்கியம். அவசிய தேவையும் கூட. கச்சேரி செய்யும் கலைஞராக வேண்டும் என்றால் அதற்குப் பல காரணிகள் வேண்டும். அதற்கு உழைக்க வேண்டிய தினுசே வேற. பாடறதை எல்லாரும் பாடலாமே. ஆனா கர்நாடக சங்கீதம் பாடினால் அது மனசுக்கு ஒரு இதத்தையும், அமைதியையும், சந்துஷ்டியையும் கொடுக்கக்கூடியது. அது குழந்தைகளுக்கு இப்பப் புரியாது. அவா இப்பப் பாடிட்டு ஒரு பத்து வருஷம் கழிச்சுத்தான் புரியும். அது ஆறுதலும் ஆனந்தமும் தரும். ஆன்மீகமும் தரும்,

நீங்கள் விரும்பினால்.மத்த மொழிக் கீர்த்தனைகள் பாடினாலும் தமிழ்க் கீர்த்தனைகளும் பாடணும். ஏனென்றால் தமிழ்ப் பாட்டைத்தான் நன்னா உணர்ந்து புரிஞ்சு பாட முடியும். ஏன்னா மத்த பாடல்லாம் பாஷை புரிந்தால்தான் புரியும். அவ்வளவு உணர்ந்து பாடமுடியாது. பாவத்துக்கு அங்கே இடமில்லை. "சபாபதிக்கு வேறு தெய்வம் சமானமாகுமா" என்றால் உங்களுக்குப் புரியும். தமிழ்க் கீர்த்தனைகள் நிறையப் பாடணும்.

கர்நாடக சங்கீதம் என்றால் என்ன என்று கேட்டீர்கள் என்றால், தமிழிசைதான் என்பது என் கருத்து. தமிழிசைதான் இன்றைக்கு கர்நாடக சங்கீதமாக ஐக்கியமாகிறது. நான் தமிழ் வெறியன்னு (fanatic) சொல்லலாம்.

கே: உங்களுடைய கிருதிகள் வேற மொழிகளில்ல நிறைய இருக்கு, இல்லையா?

ப: ஆமாம். அதனால்தான் தமிழ்க் கீர்த்தனைகள் எல்லாரும் பாடற மாதிரி வரணுமே ஈஸ்வரான்னு வேண்டிண்டேன். அதுக்கு மீனாக்ஷி அருள் பண்ணினா. அதை வெறும் ஸ்ருதியோட எளிமையாகப் பாடி ரிகார்ட் பண்ணி வச்சிருக்கேன். அதைக் கேட்டு யாரும் கத்துக்கலாம். மத்தபடி எனக்கு பெரிய கூட்டம் வந்துதான் பாடணும்னோ, கச்சேரி பண்ணனும்னோ ஆசைப்படலை. அஞ்சு பேர் உட்கார்ந்தாக்கூட நான் கச்சேரி பண்ணுவேன். என்னை மதிச்சு ஒரு வயலின் வித்வான், ஒரு மிருதங்க வித்வான் என்கூட உட்காறார் அப்படிங்கும்போது அவங்களை கௌரவப்படுத்தணும் இல்லையா.

கே: நேற்றைய கச்சேரியில் 'சிதம்பரனை, திகம்பரனை' பாட்டு ரொம்ப நன்னாக இருந்தது.

ப: ஆமாம். அது "னை, னை"ன்னு முடியும். 'தென்னவன் இசை உலா'வில் இருக்கிறது.

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Post  Drunkenmunk Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:33 am

SenthilVinu wrote:
Curiously, what are some of the greatest composition of Carnatic-art music while the film music was flourishing? May be even from 1900's onwards?

One I can immediately recall is Madurai Mani Iyer's English Note. Used in Thillana Mohanambal and more recently by Bharadwaj in Vasool Raja MBBS:



And then there is GN Balasubramaniam who was a superstar who has discovered new ragas and composed kritis. So has Balamuralikrishna whose raga find, Mahathi (raga of only 4 swaras, normally a raga is known to have a minimum of 5 swaras. 4 swaras is a BMK novelty), which was used by MSV in Adhisaya Ragam (Aboorva Raagangal).

But you're right. IR's experiments in the rare ragas and thaala patterns within the compulsions of film music where he has to first satisfy the director and the situation at hand and only then look at inventive stuff have quite rightly earned him a lot of admirers in the Carnatic music world, right from legends/geniuses Semmangudi and Balamuralikrishna to the crowd favorites Sudha Raghunathan and Bombay Jayashree. TMK is a freak even inside the Carnatic circles.


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Post  fring151 Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:37 am

All else aside, I am rather tempted to question a performer's criticism of a composer. I can understand a critics's (however two bit the criitic might be) criticism, but am tempted to question what locus standi a performer has to pass judgement on a composer...

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Post  Drunkenmunk Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:40 am

fring151 wrote:All else aside, I am rather tempted to question a performer's criticism of a composer. I can understand a critics's (however two bit the criitic might be) criticism, but am tempted to question what locus standi a performer has to pass judgement on a composer...

I agree. A performer/composer inside the classical circle like a Balamuralikrishna or a GNB would have more credibility imo (even there, konjam suspect only because they are bound by their classical format whereas film music is ad lib). But hey, someone like a BMK professes unbridled admiration for IR.
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Post  fring151 Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:46 am

Yup as I already said, far be it for me to raise eyebrows about TMK's mastery of CCM, but seriously, calling IR's pure Carnatic ventures "unfortunate"?? Duh, dude, at least he tried composing, unlike....errrr..YOU. Sorry to be so blunt and punch so heavily above my weight, but I do find it equally patronising on TMK's part to pass judgement on a composer of far superior abilities than what he has ever possessed - all with due respect to TMK's performance and improvisation skills.

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Post  crimson king Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:58 pm

Hmmm, having read all the recent comments on this thread, the only thing that TMK said that I found unfortunate was his use of the word.  But I have to note that he applied that specifically to Ilayaraja inventing scales and writing songs in the kirtana format.  My guess is he is referring to the kirtanas that Raja wrote and probably also performed in his brief sojourn in the Carnatic world.  I agree with TMK that a raga is not just a scale, every raga has its own flavour also.  Firstly, whether that is what TMK referred to in saying Raja's Carnatic compositions did not hold up as such I cannot tell from these excerpts.  Secondly, whether that is a criticism that I would agree with in connection to those songs I cannot say either as I have not heard them.  I would also like to say that the use of the word unfortunate does not imply an attempt to ban an artist's right of expression.  At worst, it is a rather pompous turn of expression and nothing more (but that is not surprising coming from a high art person).  

Apart from that, he also seems to have said that: 

"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."



You have to concede that is a very accurate summary of IR's work, one that hits the nail on the head unlike Balki's rather dubious compliment in the IBN episode on Raja: "he composed foot tapping tunes for several generations to keep listening to".  I mean, really, writing catchy tunes is all there is to IR's work?  At least TMK has grasped the musical substance of IR's achievements and articulated it quite well.  

I cannot say he is off the mark about his comments on the evolution of Carnatic vocals due to possibly the singers being influenced by film music.  Unnikrishnan is a prime example of this.  The singing of stalwarts like Madurai Somu or Maharajapuram Santhanam on my grandpa's old tapes is so passionate and soulful. Not only Unni's vocals lack that, he has got a whole new audience over to Carnatic who dislike the Somu kind of singing.  That is, indeed, unfortunate.  This kind of dilution has taken place in the art of opera singing also.  From the day the Three Tenors got together to sing amp-ed versions of arias at football stadiums, opera as a skillful art was replaced with opera as a genre, a sound.  

It is also to be noted that he has not criticised film music composers for utilising Carnatic as source material.  He has criticised Carnatic musicians for using examples from film music to highlight the characteristics of ragas.  Again, that is at worst a rather puritanical stance but it's ok, it's his opinion.  

As I already said, his criticisms of Carnatic music are pretty sharp and at least some of them resonate with me.  What are his solutions to these issues, that is what I would like to know.

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Post  fring151 Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:29 am

TMK 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.

Translation: Ungalukku edhukku saar indha velai laam, Neengalaachu cinema paattachu nu irundhurkalaam illa. Anaavasiyamaa "enga" area kuLLa kaala vechikkittu...Also, unfortunate for Karnatik music?? How is that even possible? A composer writing a "poor" symphony is not "unfortunate" for WCM. Basically, the hidden subtext is that he is after all only a film musician. How could he possibly handle complex art music.

Throughout these excerpts there is a very fine condescension towards film music in general. I mean, leaving Ilayaraja aside, as this is a chapter on film music, has he acknowledged anywhere the role that film music played in introducing laymen and women to so many different "raagams" (even if only superficially, as he alleges) and how basically if film-carnatic didn't exist, most people outside the chosen community would know squat about carnatic music today, and worse, would have little interest too. Has he considered how it has kindled interest in more serious carnatic music among many film music buffs? I mean, a song like 'Chinna kannan azhaikkiran popularized Reeti gowlai among the masses overnight. 

TMK wrote: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.



Like V_S said, IR has composed songs in so many rare raagams in which there previously existed no or very few classical compositions. When I hear "Paartha vizhi" or "Idhazhil kadhai ezhudhum", I don't feel like the composer is merely manipulating notes of the scale. It's quite insulting that he would think this is IR's (and other senior Carnatic and film musicians) understanding of raagam when even I find it too "simplistic and immature".


Finally,



TMK wrote: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.




HOW?? Essence disintegrating, integrity lost and all flowery language. But what does it even mean? Why didn't he care to elaborate? Here again, he talks like it was sacrilege and should have never been attempted. Nalla irundhudhu, nalla illa nu soldradhoda niruthikkalaam. Edhukku theva illaama unfortunate, unacceptable idha madhiri laam vaarthaigala payan paduthanum?

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Post  fring151 Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:42 am

crimson king wrote:I cannot say he is off the mark about his comments on the evolution of Carnatic vocals due to possibly the singers being influenced by film music.  Unnikrishnan is a prime example of this.  The singing of stalwarts like Madurai Somu or Maharajapuram Santhanam on my grandpa's old tapes is so passionate and soulful. Not only Unni's vocals lack that, he has got a whole new audience over to Carnatic who dislike the Somu kind of singing.  That is, indeed, unfortunate.  This kind of dilution has taken place in the art of opera singing also.  From the day the Three Tenors got together to sing amp-ed versions of arias at football stadiums, opera as a skillful art was replaced with opera as a genre, a sound.  

It is also to be noted that he has not criticised film music composers for utilising Carnatic as source material.  He has criticised Carnatic musicians for using examples from film music to highlight the characteristics of ragas.  Again, that is at worst a rather puritanical stance but it's ok, it's his opinion.  

Don't disagree with any of this.

unlike Balki's rather dubious compliment in the IBN episode on Raja: "he composed foot tapping tunes for several generations to keep listening to".

Hahaha. That's what he said? Lol

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Post  crimson king Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:40 am

I do not know that he did not elaborate on it - the sindhu bhairavi transposition business - and I will not make that assumption without reading the entire book.  

As for IR's use of rare ragams in film music, I don't see where TMK has objected to that in any excerpts.  My interpretation was that he was referring to the carnatic compositions Raja came up with for his own kutcheri.  As an established Carnatic artist, TMK is entitled to his views.  He can choose to be condescending about it too though it says more about him as a person than it does about Raja.  Even Raja sometimes says condescending things about new composers relying too much on loops.  I could turn the argument the other way and ask where does it say you cannot depend on loops or autotune for film music.  Just as Raja has some ideal viewpoint of what film music should be, TMK probably has one about Carnatic too.


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Post  crimson king Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:47 am

His views on Mari mari are pretty straightforward to understand anyway.  If you showed a supposed novice singing nessun dorma in una furtiva lagrima's tune, it would not be too presumptuous to suppose ignorance on said novice's part of classical music.  But in the film, Suhasini receives applause for what appears to be a sabha audience for doing so.  As if she did something that was 'right'.  My guess is THAT is what TMK objects to, that the transposition is sought to be validated in the film situation.  I would not go along with that argument but I can understand a Carnatic musician objecting to that because he is bound to take it much more seriously than the casual audience.  And in all the excerpts of Ilayaraja reproduced here, his main target seems to be the Carnatic community as a whole and not Ilayaraja in particular.

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Post  fring151 Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:03 am

crimson king wrote:As for IR's use of rare ragams in film music, I don't see where TMK has objected to that in any excerpts.

My point is that in such a sharp critical essay on film-carnatic music, he must also acknowledge the positives - which he hasn't. IR's use of dormant raagams, the role of film music in making carnatic based material more popular among the masses etc need to be acknowledged. (I am assuming V_S has copied all relevant excerpts relating to film music in the book). Film music itself might "fail the test and, hence not be part of Karnatik music's development process.", but it has also had some positive influence on CCM as a whole besides the negatives. I am disappointed that he neglects to mention that (again assuming he hasn't said anything much on the subject beyond these excerpts)

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Post  crimson king Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:08 am

Again, my response would be that I would like to read the full book (and since I keep saying it, I need to do it as soon as budget permits) to place his observations in context.  If you already feel disappointed by what he has said in these excerpts, it's fine, it's your choice.  As I said before, he has in fact acknowledged Raja's contribution in very precise language of the sort that's unfortunately rarely used.  And not only the words but the song exhibits he cited to illustrate his point.  Not that I am surprised given his stature as a musician.

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Post  fring151 Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:18 am

To be sure, I am disappointed only with his choice of words (unfortunate, unacceptable) and reluctance to acknowledge the positives. Maybe reading the book will give a clearer picture - it was staring at me at Giri traders and I almost picked it up, but the price (Rs 700+) discouraged me.

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