Music? What’s in it for me?

He turned towards me and asked, when are you going to write about the December 2006 Music Festival? He who? He Chenthil. Asked where? Asked at the Chennai Metblog Reader + Author meet, when I was tucking into my chilli cheese toast. If only that were an innocent question, nothing much would have happened thereafter; I would have claimed ignorance, truthfully and the matter would have been rested. But did I tell you that Chenthil’s eyes had a mischievous twinkle as he tossed that question at me?

Therefore one ignorant woman has to now pick up the challenge and occupy herself with much head scratching. Let us start, then, at the beginning, which is always some history. Kutcheri Buzz has a lot of information but let me quote (ignorance needs to fill pages with other people’s material no?) from their What is the December Season?

For the Hindus though it is the Tamil month of Margazhi, a time for devotion – the dawn of the Gods. And the very roots of South Indian classical music is this bhakthi, or devotion, and music has been one of the most important and traditional forms of worship.

The weather is very pleasant at this time of the year, there’s a nip in the air, and even a chill around if the monsoon has dragged on into late November. So it is the best time for kutcheris (concerts).

The December Music season came into stay when The Music Academy began holding the concerts during its first annual conference in 1929 and then decided that a week long music festival be held to coincide with Christmas week. The logic was sound.

The courts were closed during that period and the sahibs were having several rounds of merrymaking. The native society leaders were at a loose end and this gave them something to do. And the city now has a ‘Music season’.

So, nice weather, nice holidays, so, nice music, so December season.

The season warms up when the Music Academy concerts begin, usually mid-December (Music Academy has a website now. Anyone got the url? Google wasn’t too willing to help). However, some sabhas start early and finish their run in the first fortnight of December. One that comes to mind is Karthik Fine Arts, which uses the Naradha Gana Sabha.

Popular festivals and events have their symbols. Chennai’s December Season brings to mind two images: one of silk sarees and dripping diamonds, the other of sweet, karam, coffee. In recent times, one brand seems to have captured the imagination of the concert going audience in the SKC department, Arusuvai Arasu. Now, to return to where we started, the point where Chenthil-with-the-twinkle asked me to do this post. In spite of noticing his intent, I asked Chenthil why he wouldn’t do such a post himself. He replied that he was better qualified to write about Arusuvai Arasu than about music. As ignorance turns to devilish intent in Lavanya, what happens now is that she tags Chenthil to do a post on the top caterer in Chennai.

End of Post. Readers, thank you for your time. Now, be off. Don’t read below.

PS1: Psst, Chenthil…your challenge is to do the tag in the next 48 hours. Otherwise you may have the privilege of buying me a chilli cheese toast (to compensate for your interruption of my enjoyment of the earlier one). And yes, you may be devilish too and mention in your post that Lavanya’s only claim to fame is that Arusuvai Arasu (who wasn’t called that back then) personally made food for her first birthday.

PS2: Yes, I hear that part about shameless plugs in posts

PS3: Vatsan, you are next. Watch out.

11 Comments so far

  1. catcharun (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 12:03 am

    a vacation has its advantages..reading the hindu from the banner to last post is one of them..
    the pesky, ungoogleable url was in last friday’s supplement..

    the musical side of my family took me to experience nithyashree & unnikrishnan at narada gana sabha..good experience..especially when i used what i later found to be adi talam to kill some mosquitoes

  2. Nastikan (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 3:02 am

    Ah Kutcheri Buzz, which flew into a bitchy rage when Yesudas dared to perform a Christian krithi as one of his tukda items last year. (Wasn’t the Music Season launched to coincide with a Congress meeting?)

    But my Margazhi Thiruvizha sartorial memory is not of decollete and diamonds but the old men in spotless white in the cavernous hall of Raja Annamalai Manram, who not only know who is singing what and why but who sang it better when. And all the programmes are completely in Tamil, hardly a line of English.

  3. vatsan (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 8:24 am

    yes lavanya im said i would write on the gastronomic aspect of the festival :D

  4. suppamani (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

    During a chat about this years Music Season my Mrs. told me that she has bought tickets for a few important concets only and not much and when I asked about the total budget she told it works our nearly Rs.2,500/- only. When I replied OK and how much the estimate for the new costumes she interuppted and said that nothing since the tickets are for only other shabhas and not one for music academy. I could not understand anythihng from her reply as usual.

  5. Nastikan (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 4:33 am

    Tamil Isai Sangam tickets are very cheap and subsidised, I’m sure. The sabha Karaikudi Mani runs also has very cheap and intimate concerts. (I think the other extreme is Krishna Gana Sabha).

  6. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

    Yesudas makes a point of singing songs from different religions.

    Unfortunately he makes a point of talking about them too, which is why I don’t go to his concerts any longer. Concerts are for music: not sermons.

  7. Nastikan (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

    I’ve attended many of his recent concerts, I’ve never heard him “sermonize”, and in any case, the non-Hindu items come at the very tail end of his concerts. Not to mention that it is really peculiar to complain at a concert of religious music that someone is making a point of ethics In sum, Yesudas vazhgai.

  8. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 12:11 am

    Nastikan, I am very glad to stand corrected. It has been a feature of Yesudas concerts that I have attended in previous years; maybe he has ‘changed his tune’.

    Maybe other criticisms I have of him are also out of date; I should be happy about that too.

    On an entirely different point, my message to the Chennai music audience is: if you want to chat amonst yourselves while listening to music, then, please, put on a CD and stay at home. Let those of us who love the music actually listen to it.

    The behaviour of Chennai audiences is something that receives a great deal of criticism on sites where carnatic music is seriously loved and appreciated. Check out the concerts in London, where the community does not, of course, have a daily choice, all year round!

    The music is what brought me here in the first place, a decade or so ago. It is wonderful. The audiences not quite so wonderful!!!

  9. Nastikan (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 1:30 am

    That’s the price of sitting in the front rows, near the special guests and backless-ravikai’d bright young things. A little chatter from the elderly and well-steeped about the music itself can be enjoyable. What other criticisms of Yesudas?

    ps. I have always liked your nom-de-net.

  10. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on December 16th, 2006 @ 12:44 am

    Only one: I don’t like vocalists to monopolise the time… I go to see the whole concert, and, for me, the way that carnatic music works is spoilt when the violinist does not have equal opportunity to reply during raga, niraval, swaras. I have observed Yesodas cutting his accompanist short. But if I’m wrong about this too — then good. Maybe it was just that day!

    I think he has a great velvety voice, and I appreciate him for the difficulty and prejudice he faced and overcame (from both ‘sides’) in his intention, as a Christian, to become a carnatic vocalist.

  11. skumar (unregistered) on December 18th, 2006 @ 12:45 am

    Appreciate the effort to blog a note about music season and bit about tamil Margazhi month. Few people in this world cannot hear, few cannot see, few cannot smell, few cannot taste., etc..So this is the season to thank God for all w(h)ealth that he has given us. Just imagine living a day 24 hrs full darkness.

    This month has been mistakenly presumed as a month of fasting for young girls awaiting marriage, to get good groom. This significance was conceived from “AAndal” who sang “Thirupavai” to get wedded to “Thirumal” (let it be a myth or history)….How many girls, was successful in this attempt? What about the girls who have a beloved husband witout taking this effort? Why not guys, fast for beloved wife ?

    If that is the case, why did “Manikavasagar” (another Hindu prophet) sang “Thiru Ven Pavai”, Is it to get married again to a beautiful bride?

    These articulated followings are conceived for generations, hoping that some good thing can happen… but no proof (or) guarentee.

    The truth is …. to realize the power of God and the God within you. This cannot happen by going to saba or “kucherry” . This is a silent trancession, which may happen to you inside four walls…when you travel inwards.

    Bunch of blessings

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