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Donít compromise on classicism, O.S. Thyagarajan advises artistes
People get the Government they deserve, so goes an adage. According to this traditionalist-vocalist, something akin is happening in the world of Carnatic music. He regrets that avoidable compromises are practiced in the concert platform. The blame squarely lies with the audience for this, according to senior artiste O.S. Thyagarajan.

Emphasizing the need to sustain `Sampradaya" during an interaction organized by Deccan Chronicle at Rasam Restaurant here during December Season 2010, he regretted that artistes too willingly diluted their standard of music just to please the audience. "We don’t see the musical depth of past years," he rued and went on to pin the blame on rasikas. “Our music is age-old. Introduction of unwanted elements in concert platforms and dilution of music for the sake of the audience is totally uncalled for. The rasikas are to blame for creating pressures on musicians to perform such concerts," he added.

Pure classical music was on the decline and it was for the society to act sensibly and promote `Sastriya Sangeetham’, he said. In this context, he stressed the need for educating the rasikas on the purity aspects of Carnatic music. The responsibility also rested on the vidwans, he added. Though concert platforms had multiplied, he wasn’t quite sure about what the artistes were doing with their products (Carnatic music). "Are they giving quantitative or qualitative products?" Mr. Thyagarajan asked. Carnatic musicians, according to him, should follow the path laid down by Semmangudi or Ariyagudi Ramanujam. "If they follow that, fans will change," he asserted. He was of the view that "we (artistes) have developed the rasikas." As such, he felt the responsibility for course-correcting the rasikas rested only with the musicians. "Pure music will always have a market," he asserted. "But only a handful follow it," he regretted. What is pure music?

"If you say Carnatic music, only Trinity will dominate. In this Thyagaraja will pre-dominate for his qualitative compositions," he said. Unlike the others, Thyagraja not only composed lyrics but presented them in musical format by tuning them to set ragas, he said. “If there is to be a change in the present concert scenario, the audience should look back to the tradition and know what pure classicism is. Listen to stalwarts like Ariyakkudi and Semmangudi. Their music has every aspect that one should expect in a classical music concert,” he advised rasikas. A disciple of T.M. Tyagarajan, OST, as he is fondly known, called upon artistes to "spread Sastriya Sangeetham."

In his view "the rasikas have not increased to the extent the platforms have." He recalled his first lesson from his guru in 1980. “Never try to get applause by singing something absurd and if you don’t get applause despite sensible singing never bother. This is one lesson I remember even today,” he said, revealing his utmost reverence for the two Tyagarajas – the saint composer and his guru.

He laid much store by the aesthetic value of music. “If one is able is perform with perfect sruti, laya and sahitya suddha - that is the purest form of bhakti – Nadopaasana, as Tyagaraja put it,” he said. What will be his advice to the upcoming artistes? “Have the ambition to be a knowledgeable Vidwan and not just a popular performer with no stuff. Being popular will never enhance a concert performance. Develop a style of your own and be individualistic in your approach,” he said. Pointing out that formal music institutions hadn’t really produced good performing artistes, he said, "practical knowledge must be the focus."
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