Welcome to my blog and wishing you all a very happy new year.
Endaro Mahaanubhavulu, andariki vandanamulu.
(as many great souls as there be, to everyone of them I bow respectfully)
John Keats : Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.
I tried hard to shorten this blog post but couldn’t, so I had to split into sections since each topic was more interesting and intriguing.
After getting bored at home during Christmas holidays, I went to library to pick up a book that could keep me engaged. While browsing the shelf, my hands lay on a book which had a beautiful cover picture of MS and the book was ‘MS, a life in music’ by T.J.S. George.
The second reason why I was eager to read the book was the ‘low popularity’ of Carnatic music with the younger generation (People would strongly disagree with this) and among the non-South Indian listeners.
I was stunned when some of the friends at college questioned what ‘Carnatic music’ was? I wondered how it could not reach them. The college I study has students coming from different parts of the country so I thought it could be a regional issue. I again thought it could also be a generation issue, since we young are glued to the rock culture and western music more (this statement is based on my observations from the recent concerts which I’ve attended).
Here I am not putting the other genre of music down but I am trying to get deep into the issues associated with Carnatic music. Music is an individual choice and it can’t be forced, so I am not promoting Carnatic music here; I am now a mere rasika* (*One who enjoy’s the art being part of an audience) and I’ve not practiced Carnatic music to get into the details and technical aspects of the art.
Over the years Carnatic music scholars and critics have written about the declining interest among the younger generation in this art. It is not merely from the point of view of listeners but it is the practitioners who believe that this music is of the elitists in our society. This perception needs change.
Before I get into the issues, let me guide you through about what Carnatic music is and what the book is all about.
Carnatic music: Raagam, Taalam, Pallavi
The word ‘Carnatic’ is the colonial bastardization initially perpetrated by the Portuguese and then continued by British who could not associate the phonemes of the word Karnataka. The origin attributed to the geographical region of Canara and the people Canarese. Carnatic music is said to be at most 500 to 600 years old began with Purandara Dasa (1484-1564). Carnatic music came from four linguistic segments of the south. Dasa was a Kannadiga and Annamacharya belonged to Telugu region.
Later came Mutthu Swami Dikshidhar, Thaigaraja, and Shyama Sastri (as in pic from left to right) who popularized the Carnatic music. All three were born in the same village of Thiruvarur in Thanjavur district and Thaigaraja was Telugu while the rest two were Tamil. Then it was fitted into Malayalam mosaic in the form of Sopana Sangeetham.
About the Book: ‘MS, a life in music’ is a biography of MS Subbulakshmi, a Carnatic vocalist who was a Magsaysay and Bharat Ratna award winner. It is penned by TJS George, a journalist author who has won the R.K.narayan’s award for the best author in English, 2005.
What could I see in the Book: Though it’s a biography, I could see more than a life story of a character MS. It has music, caste domination, gender discrimination, sanskritization, Brahminism, Bhakti, early marriage, Coffee associated with culture, male domination, love… each one is complex by itself so I restrict and carry later on this blog.