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Monday, September 12, 2005


The Bard wrote –If music be the food of love…
( Ed—We’d need a low-cal diet !)

One of the few grouses I harbour into adult life is that I’ve never really quite learnt music. True, ‘twas a virtuoso performance that blotted my near-perfect marksheet of Class 10 ( I ended up doing a Bade Ghulam Ali Khan on a Babul Supriyo number, metaphorically ( Ed—And acoustically too, perhaps !), and paid a heavy price ). This compounded with growing up in a family that appreciates and values those notes has instilled a reverence for music and musicians that is conspicuous by the absence of such reverence in other spheres.

Over the years I have managed to piece through a compilation which reflects my tastes, and I am reasonably at ease with most forms. However, the veneration, the distance has remained. So it is with some consternation that I now find the corporate world acquiescent towards public performances with a nonchalance that borders on either ignorance or disdain.

I have been witness to a very good violin classical quintet in Calcutta, a jaunty mellifluous band singing pop in Agra, eclectic instrumental spreads in Bombay, contemplative ghazals in Delhi and flute recitals and bharatnatyam performances in madras. Now, other than the rock ballads , these are a platter of music that I find enjoyable and relaxing. And yet, I recall quivering with disquietude and trepidation in most instances.

What I find disturbing is that these skilled musicians should consider it worth their métier to give off their best to a posse of people who couldn’t be more insouciant, a corpulent assemblage ( Ed- A discerning observation !) of ( willfully ?) dulled perceptions, a clump of febrile societal instincts to make merry and as a skein, deadened to the sensibilities of music of any presentment or provenance.
And it is serious music that these artists purvey !

I have never had occasion to query if Rafi, Jagjit, Christopher Martin-Jenkins or Terry Gross have felt aggrieved or outraged as they have played on in my home, unmindful of my less-than-total absorption in their fare, but I feel uncomfortably humble to be part of the audience on such occasions, benumbed with the thought that perhaps every listener or viewer is paying money, but not attention.

Father McKenzie, writing the words
of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night
when there's nobody there
What does he care....


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