Some thoughts, interactions in USA

Experiences in US – Performed 3 cutcheris so far in this trip. Good turnout, and well received by the local Indian audience. The fliers for two of them and one youtube clip are here. One observation is that the youngsters in US seem to be more keen on performing concerts than listening to concerts. (This is similar to the trend in India and Chennai too) There were several talent promotion type of concerts and I had occasion to listen to such young enthusiastic vocalists, mridangam players, violinists, etc., and to share my experiences in music, with some of them.

Here is a link to a clip from one of them …

Bhaskaran NJ 11-Jun-2011[2]

July 2nd Grand Flute Concert (Sri K Bhaskaran)[1]

One of my old friends and fan was very enthusiastic to make me take as an accompanist for mridangam, one of the local youngsters known to him, but when my cutcheri finally got fixed up with a not-so-young local artiste who was perhaps more experienced and accomplished, (due to the organizers suggesting them for my concert, and as I had also known them as fairly experienced ) though I did send them emails wishing the youngster

good luck, and also inviting them to my concert as well as confirming my keenness to encourage him on a next suitable occasion, – none of them turned up for my concert – neither the old-time fan, nor the newly learned youngster mridangam player !!!

I played sruti-bedam – in two concerts – Simhendramadyaman – with illusion of Bowli

and Todi with illusion of Saramati. Gave a short explanation for the former. The accompanists should learn to be ‘aware’, when a sruti-bedam or graham-bedam is being performed manodharmically, and give the support for the moorchana note, to really enhance the experience. I do help them to be aware, usually in concerts, especially in the case of junior artistes. The whole experience of accompanying becomes a lot easier and infinitely more enjoyable for everyone (listeners, self and the accompanied) when the awareness of the artiste is higher. This is not only true, I feel, for a complex manodharmic exposition like graha-bedam, but even for a simple one like Raga Alapana, and most importantly Kalpanaswara accompaniment. ‘Kalpanaswara-accompaniment’ is an impossibility on a melodic instrument and I am amazed today at the way some melodic instrument accompanists in a typical Carnatic Classical Concert literally freak out on this, making a mash (a chow-chow bath ‘kalvai’ as they say back in Bengalooru !) of the kalpana of the main artiste and the accompanist, with the result that nothing is really heard.  Just imagine how, in a vocal duet, – a kalpanaswara accompaniment by the singer-2 would be when singer-1 is performing. It is quite a different aspect for a rhythm accompanist when a free-flow manodharmic kalpanaswara is being perfomed, – he is accompanying only the rhythmic flow of the melody and the exact swaras are immaterial, so it does not sound a kalavai, if he can sense the rhythm of the swaras which by experience they pick up, even if they do not possess singing or melodic performance skills.

K. Bhaskaran

Maryland, USA

Jun 29,  2011

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