Outside the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan kutcheri hall, volunteers politely ask rasikas to switch off their mobile phones before admitting them to the concert.
For 67-year-old S. Jagannanathan who is here with his family from the United States that is not an option.
“Don’t worry, it won’t ring. It is on the recorder mode. 30 days, 60 concerts, how will I remember how delightful the experience was otherwise?” he says.
After every kutcheri, Jagannanthan transfers all the recorded music on to the cloud to be heard over the rest of the year. “I even work with some sound editing options to make them clear.”
Both artistes and rasikas have taken to technology with gusto to enhance their concert experience.
“When you go for an instrumental music concert, you can identify the ragam not the kriti. Apps on the web help you get the right kriti. It enriches the rasika’s experience,” S.L. Narasimhan, a rasika and technology enthusiast, said.
From identifying the ragam an artiste is performing to whose concert they want to listen to next, the internet and phone are goldmines for rasikas. “On days I take a break from running around, I am at home looking for live-streaming options. There are at least three good ones on the web,” says K.N. Ramasubramian, a rasika, at The Music Academy.
For artistes, web-based technologies come in handy for various tasks from looking up lyrics to gauging how many times a ragam has been performed to even updating schedules online and getting rasikas’ feedback. The latest in the offing for them is the i-tanpura, an app available for iPhones and iPod. “Some people also record a tambura and loop it for some hours and then play that track through their iPods using docks or speakers,” said Vignesh Ishwar, carnatic vocalist.
K.N. Ramaswamy, director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, says, “Many artistes have their schedules, songlists and songs on their tablets and constantly refer to them while performing. While some criticise such a habit, it is good because the artistes make fewer mistakes.”
Technology may have eased the lives of artistes but vocalist-violinist Sriram Parasuram says they should be wary of using it as a medium to mask their defects.
“Our music is a result of sadhana that teaches us to be perfect by human endeavour. Technology often becomes a crutch because it impedes an artiste’s growth as she no longer feels the need to memorise songs or songlists.”
(This is the concluding part of this series.)