When the diligent singer, in his byzantine meanderings through the topography of the raga, happens to sense a particularly pretty phrase coming on, he naturally feels he must withdraw himself from the visible world to concentrate inwards and examine the idea in all its detail and proffer it to the listener as delectably as possible.

This young singer, like others of his ilk, liked to shut his eyes in contemplation as he delineated a raga.

But, as he found that day, merely shutting one’s eyes does not preclude distractions. Insidious distractions are capable of making an ingress in variety of ways, especially through the most susceptible orifice — the ear. He cannot afford to shut his ears, or he’d be called tone deaf.

Just as the singer set foot in the ragascape, perching lightly on a soft ga, an embittered squeak sounded in response. He came to with a start and looked in askance at the violinist, who shook his head innocently to deflect any blame for the unruly intrusion. The singer gathered himself and tried again. This time, a plaintive yowl sounded — and on a note wholly alien to the raga. Clearly, an intemperate mike system. After a few more attempts, the singer gave up the unequal tussle and folded his hands, as his colleagues on stage glared sullenly in the direction of the audio engineer’s nook. The distraction had won out, even if temporarily.

Of all the strident noises in the world, (chalkboard screeches apart) the feedback howl of a malfunctioning mike system has to be among the worst. If it does insist on competing with the vocalist, the least it could do is to keep in tune.