Gopalkrishna Gandhi says demand made on artists is becoming burdensome

While it is “a matter of pride and gladness” that Chennai broke all records in terms of the number of concerts and attendance this year during the music season, the “demand made on artists by the sheer pressure of musical thirst is becoming burdensome”, said former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Saturday.

“Now artists are expected to give a concert a week, almost, and throughout the year and travel all over the world. This is hard on them, hard on their skill, hardest on the tone and tenor of their music,” he said while participating in the centenary celebrations of mridangam vidwan Palghat T.S. Mani Iyer.

Although today's mridangam players had a longer concert list than Palghat Mani Iyer ever did, this was “not necessarily an achievement.”

“There is such a thing as concert fatigue. There is such a thing as excess, the opposite of kachchitam,” he said, pointing out that in between concerts and travel, musicians of the generation of Palghat Mani Iyer had some time left for themselves.

“They spent it on reflection, teaching disciples one-to-one in conformity with the hours of the day, days of the month, months of the year. And they spent time on what can be called a recharging of the aquifers of their creative sensibility,” he said.

Noting that the pressure had resulted in artists considering the idea of eliminating irreplaceable tanam from the concert scheme, he said it was his fear that just as the IPL had been so manifestedly deleterious for cricket, this round-the-clock enervation could leave the artists exhausted and drained or their concerts pruned to shorter than what they should ideally be.

“Music is meant to have constituency, not a market. Musicians create experience, not a commodity,” he stressed.

Recalling how the constant encouragement from Palghat Mani Iyer had helped him build a career, violinist T.N. Krishnan said the mridangam maestro would recommend him to sabhas and concert organisers and would even accept concert advances on his behalf.

“It is he who secured a status for mridangam players,” he said.

Another violinist, Lalgudi Jayaraman, said Mani Iyer adopted different styles for different singers and his styles perfectly suited everyone.

“If his playing had a tremendous effect on the audience, his pause before joining the main singer during concert was equally powerful,” Mr. Jayaraman said in a speech read out by his son G.J.R. Krishnan.

C.V. Krishnaswami, a family friend of Palghat Mani Iyer for three decades, said the brain and hand co-ordination of the late maestro was without parallel in medical history.

A special album of Mani Iyer accompanying various artists, including Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, GNB, Alathur Brothers, D.K. Jayaraman and Palghat K.V. Narayanasamy, and his seven thanis was released by Mr. Gopalkrishna Gandhi. It was received by Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, mridangam maestro and disciple of Mani Iyer.

Eight disciples honoured

Eight disciples of Mani Iyer, besides Selvam, the mridangam maker were honoured on the occasion. T.R. Rajamani, son of Mani Iyer, proposed a vote of thanks.