Thursday, April 11, 2019

'MrudangAunrAgam' - A Deeper Understanding of the Art of Mrudangam Accompaniment

I love listening to lecture demonstrations by the Carnatic musicians. As I have never learnt Carnatic music, a lot of what they say goes over my head. But the little I understand gives me a bit more to appreciate the music better. When some subtle nuances in a song are explained well, it improves my appreciation of the song the next time I listen to it. 
R.K. Shriramkumar’s lectures are my favorite because of his content and delivery. But when I listen to a lot of others, I feel frustrated because of various reasons. A general lack of preparation, not having a structure, having too much content that cannot be done justice in the given time, struggling to find the audio clips that they want to share, letting the audio clips run for much longer than needed, discussing with fellow presenters on stage as to what to sing, unnecessary personal anecdotes… the list is endless. A recent lecture by the renowned Mrudangam player Manoj Siva was a pleasant surprise. 
Manoj delivered a lecture titled 'MrudangAunrAgam' on ‘A Deeper Understanding of the Art of Mrudangam Accompaniment’. I was very impressed with the preparation that had gone in to this lecture. The right amount of content for a two hour lecture and he had even decided which line of a composition needs to be sung to highlight a particular point he was making. There were no struggles with the laptop in playing the clips and there was hardly any personal anecdote. The lecture is meant for listeners and he has managed to keep it at that level despite going through a variety of topics. He rightly concludes the best accompaniment is one that complements the singer and does not draw the focus on the accompaniment itself. 
Manoj, being the soft spoken man that he is, would have been helped with a wearable mic as at times I was not able to hear him as he moved around in the stage. And I would have also preferred an unedited version of the video, as the editing interrupts the flow. 
Manoj was helped by Ashwath NarayananShriramkumar Rk and BS Purushotham in this presentation. Thank you Manoj, for the lecture and for sharing it in public domain. Keep those lectures coming.