For several years my only tryst with music was watching the girls in the movie/video songs! And ever since I lost my sound sleep, I was treated to the odd 'Allah-o-akbar' or the Rajaji-MS duo crooning at daybreak. But suddenly I feel I'm going deaf with the cacophony of sounds I hear these days.
There is simply too much noise in my life. iPod tears my eardrum during every commute. My office has a tradition of playing a ridiculus mix of country music all day. And since I hate to listen to songs whose lyrics I can't comprehend, I treat myself to the 20 odd Shoutcast tamil channels on headphones. My elderly airplane mechanic neighbour in Chennai used to say that he practically became deaf during his tarmac days. I fear something similar is happening to me now.
Why do people listen to vocals they can't comprehend? And worse, why do people sing songs they can barely understand? Does anyone in India who listens to western music able to make out the lyrics? Well, can you atleast make out the lyrics in Tamil/Hindi movie songs these days? If sound alone can please them, why can't they stick to instruments?
I have asked practically every Tamil carnatic vocal singer I have met, why do they sing Telugu Songs? I haven't got a reasonable response from anyone yet. But one such guy I had cornered, hit back asking why do I render Sanskrit slogas which I definitely don't understand. Well, yes rendering Sanskrit slogas is a terrible injustice to the works of the Azhwars and Nayanmars. But then slogas are mostly ritualistic and I have never claimed to get any 'high' from such sessions. Is music a ritual too? I hope not.
I wonder why carnatic musicians are obsessed with the Telugu compositions of the Trinity and others? The other day, I went to a Sudha Raghunathan concert where I felt 'Cinanchiru Kiliye...' was more pleasing than anything else. I would like to know whether Sudha understands Telugu. Apparently Kalki Krishnamurthy was equally pissed off with this Telugu obsession of Tamil Musicians. Or atleast he ridicules such singers in one of his 1940's short stories which I recently read.
I'm sure there are a zillion Tamil compositions. Even otherwise not being able to come up with tunes for Tamil songs sounds like incompetence to me. How I would kill to listen to "yadhum oore yavarum kelir' and other secular tamil songs. For heaven's sake Tamil nadu's 'Paanar' tradition is some 3000 years old. But wait, talking about 'paanars' and Tamil music will take us into the dangerous territory of castism in Carnatic music. Let me skip that and return to my world of noises. entharo maganoo.....