I have always been overwhelmed and touched by music (Most people are, for that matterJ). It leaves a very deep impression on me and touches my heart in a way that nothing else can. When I listen to an exceptional musical performance, I feel a wave of inexplicable bliss surge through my being and it stays with me for long after.I still remember a superb rendition of A.R Rahman’s version of Vande Matharam at a cultural fest while I was in school. That team had won the first prize while ours won the second. We had a reputation and track record of bagging the first prize wherever we went but yet, this time we slipped to second, the reason being the sheer power in the other team’s performance. I remember being moved to tears and my hair standing on end as I listened to their perfect and powerful presentation. I have a lot of memories related to these kind of awe inspiring performances – Krisnamurthy’s rendition of the ‘Sahara’ song from the Shivaji movie (This was in an episode of Airtel super singer junior. He won the title that year), the school senior music team’s mind blowing and ever winning performances , every single concert of the Ranjani -Gayathri duo and Sikkil Gurucharan (they are renowned carnatic musicians) ..
The euphoria is at its best when you watch it live. I have several recorded pieces of all my favourite stalwarts in carnatic music and I enjoy listening to them too. But the experience of sitting in an auditorium that has perfect acoustics and witnessing the spontaneity of both the performers and audience is unparalleled.
And when it comes to classical music, creativity and spontaneity reign supreme. Many times, the main singer and the accompanying artists would be meeting each other for the first time! Yet, when they begin to perform, they so seamlessly blend into one single unit to give such a soulful and power packed extempore performance.(Of course, it takes years and years of rigorous training, listening and practice to be able to pull a stupendous stunt like that!). The way the violinist predicts an impending sangathi, the skillful hands of the mridangam artist giving those perfectly placed touches and each one in the troupe enjoying and appreciating the other person’s knowledge and skill is a sight to see and a very elevating experience.The best part of the year for me is the later half of December, when the music festival is on at Chennai. I tirelessly go on a concert spree to listen to all my favourite artists. Each concert is such a huge learning and it leaves me with so much of joy and satisfaction.
The experience of giving a performance is no lesser. My sis and I give carnatic music concerts and we really enjoy the hours of planning and practice, the countdown to d-day, the final touches and the performance itself. Not to mention changes in plans mid air!! Sis has this uncanny ability to judge the mood of the audience. So, abrupt changes in the song list are a regular feature. In our initial days, this used to infuriate me so much that I sometimes flatly refused, much to her dismay. Imagine people sitting eagerly waiting for the next song to begin and we playing a silent tug of war. My grandfather who was also our guru used to play the violin for us and how irritated he would get by those hushed up discussions!! Post the concert, we used to get hounded with ‘What on earth do you both discuss so much on stage!!’ Little would people know that a mini war between a desperate sis and a stubborn me was onJ. Later on, I realised that this is part of the game and an essential one at that and sis has less trouble nowadays. But then I cover up at times too. When those inevitable bloopers like forgetting lyrics for a newly learnt song or clashes (when I start the next line while she repeats the previous) happen, she just throws her hands up!! I am the one who always covers up and evens out the slip as un-noticeably as possible. All this thamasha apart, the pleasure that we derive out of singing, the wonderful feeling of watching the audience enjoy and ask for their favourite numbers and that look of pride that used to shine on thatha’s face is simply unsurpassable. Every concert continues to be a very fulfilling and a great learning experience.
While I was in school and college too, I used to thoroughly enjoy the team work that went into each of the performances and competitions. We used to feel above the world every time we won and made the school proud. We all mutually acknowledged each other’s talents and played to our strengths so well. The solo performances that I did and prizes that I won for them had their own thrill too, but the joy was always multi fold when we won as a team. And this is another special trait of this art. It unites people by its magical touch. It strikes a beautiful chord of oneness.
Music is an expression of divinity itself. It could be in any form or genre. But if you are able to sync seamlessly into it while you listen, sing or play an instrument, then you have found a precious gift in life. To experience that oneness with the notes that resound out of the voice or instrument makes you reach the state of perfect unity with all of creation for those few moments. To be able to enjoy and appreciate this art is verily a blessing from above that has been bestowed on humanity.