Monday, November 13, 2006

Cacophony of Sounds!

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.....


GuNs said...

I listen to tons of English and Hindi songs. I understand most lyrics but in the rare case which I dont, there are lyrics sites !

Music is music and the only differentiator between good and bad music is your own mind. If you like to listen to it, its good music...otherwise its bad !


FlyingHigh said...

I listen to any music in any language. Sometimes I try to find the meaning, sometimes I don't. Why don't I just listen to instrumentals? Its not the same. Words, any words add a flavour to the song.

Its when I try and sing these songs that people have a problem. Heheh!

PS: I listen to a lot of tamil songs on recommendation and I love them though I don't understand the language. :)

Balaji said...

well, yes. listening is obviously the individuals choice. but not sure about singing/listening in public.

tamil songs sung by non-tamils and most TV news bulletins suck b'cos the person has no idea whats coming out of his/her mouth.

besides my problem with non-Tamil/Hindi songs is threefold.

1. it keeps me away from carnatic music concerts (even ones organized my family!)

2. it gives me headache traveling in friends cars blaring hip-pop etc.

3. i regret that exceptional works of Tamil poets are being ignored by carnatic musicians.

Arun said...

a music is only as good as how a listener can appreciate or get the joy out of it. that being said, I dont think langauge,lyrics, intrumental_music really matters one over the other. You look-in for wat u enjoy/appreciate. If thats not good, the song is not good. thats why prob. u dont like hiphop as u cant obviously expect it to be poetic :)

Arun said...

actually hiphop is very poetic in its own sense

Anonymous said... - Too good after first 30 seconds. Remix of a old tamil song.

GuNs said...

You are right in THAT sense then. I mean I wouldnt look forward to an Indian singing in English or vice versa. That would sound pathetic.

But I am not sure if its the same case with pan-Indian languages. I mean, I like a few SP Bala songs in Hindi.


Anonymous said...

Most people go to carnatic concerts for the music itself, not the lyrics. So, singing in a language that one doesn't understand does not matter to most people. - puru

Uma said...

I have learnt carnatic music and given programs from the age of 9 in Calcutta
I do not mean that tamil carnatic songs are inferior in anyway but Telugu language is blessed ,because composer thyagaraja though born in thiruvaiyur (thanjavur ) dist was a telugu
it is normal that one can enjoy what one knows but the thyagaraja kirtis transcends the barrier of language
It is believed that muthuswamidikshatar's kirtis are like kalkandu , difficult to bite but tasty , thyagaraja's kirtis are like grapes easy to bite , drenched in bhakti rasa , transcends all barriers ,He is belived to be valmiki's reincarnation, one can enjoy even without understanding