South Indian North Indian

December 19, 2005

The music season has begun in Chennai…the politics are so dirty that it is nowcommon knowledge to everyone…should I just not bother about it, and just attend the concerts as a total outsider? Would this be aiding and abetting the bad situation?

Am just looking at, and listening, to a telecast of what I call “South Indian North Indian classical music”…a bad imitation of the North Indian classical style by an essentially Carnatic musician. Terrible voice production…..BAD pronounciation of Hindi…an incredible amount of makeup on the faces of the musicians, as well as artificial smiles…Why can’t Carnatic music be Carnatic music? Do North Indian musicians attempt kritis? No, they take our ragas and make things of beauty of them, in compositions, aalaaps and kheyals of their own style.

However, there are a few exceptions. I must mention the beautiful kritis of Muthuswami Dikshitar in several North Indian raagaas. And a contemporary musician, Madurai Shri G S Mani, has handled ragas as tough as Mian ki Malhaar and Chandrakauns in his exquisite compositions. His voice culture is something so excellent..our Carnatic music tradition does NOT give enough importance to voice training…I wish Shri Mani could give many of our singers lessons!

We should realize that our way of singing and the North Indian way are quite different, and attempts to bridge the divide must be informed by a standard of knowledge and mastery far greater than what I see today.

I have a similar grouse against the food in most South Indian weddings. Our cooks can cook delectable South Indian food. But at least one meal, there is what I call South Indian North Indian food…PPC…Puri Pulao Choley….soaking in oil, over-spiced, bringing out the worst in the heaviness of the cuisine. Recently I noticed that the naans had even taken over the previous day’s lunch. Only after the muhurtham did I finally get to eat a great, authentic “shaapaadu”.

I think I am aging….!