Having lived in Chennai for a little more than a year now, I have attended dozens of music concerts held by various sabhas. The aim in every such journey has been to take home one new technicality, jot down a couple of rare renditions, or learn one new rhythm from the mridangist. This, though, has seldom reached fulfilment. The reason? The audience, of course.

Cutting every rendition short with a premature round of applause, the hindrances offered by the very same audience against peaceful internalisation of concerts are a lot more, in number and kind. Each one has its unique USP, but the spoilers can broadly be sieved into the following:

The lizard

Every line sung by the vocalist evokes a lizard-like response, which goes “tch, tch, tch, tch...” and increases in loudness as it progresses.

The umpire

As the singer approaches bliss, the umpire in the audience would wave his hands to the tune, pat the swaras in the air, until the neighbour's nose comes in the way. I've been such a neighbour many a time.

The camper

He takes a seat, but behold, he would need three more. He would ask you to move a seat away, and we would soon be separated by a water bottle snugly placed on what was once my seat. Next, his bag sits in front. A scribble pad, and this being a miscellaneous section, the key bunch of the house, one mobile phone, maybe more, and a snuff box or its equivalent are all arranged on the chair to his left. I thanked my stars that he didn't bring anyone along. Eight chairs for a two-people system might just be on the higher side!


He does just that – “add friends.” A minute after taking his seat, he would fidget, and start with the clichéd ice-breaker: “So, you came for the concert?!” Well, no, I came to ‘get added.' The ice refused to break at my end. Minutes later, the person at the other end got added. They exchanged visiting cards.

Techni-Carnatic rasika

He flips out his iPhone, checks twice if his neighbour is awestruck, and then starts viewing the concert through the gadget. And, if he sits in front of you, there isn't any option for you but to view the show through the gadget yourself. Further, he would click snaps on this mobile. Add the sound of that digital click, which is more like a tight slap, and hence interferes with thaalam (the beats).


So named, for when he/she arrives at the concert, it's akin to an FM radio whirring up. He would dish out the best-kept secrets one after another, all when the vocalist is straining to reach the upper echelons of his repertoire. The chatter would go on for 2.5 hours, through the duration of the concert. I was forced to hear that Hari's brother got an engineering admission only because of his father's “hold”. This sub-topic ended with a generalisation that the “present generation” was spoilt.

The critic

If being part of a concert audience was a computer game, the critic would be the toughest to oust — the last enemy the prince would have to kill, before he saves the princess and lives happily ever after! As soon as the concert starts, he would poke you like you were dough waiting to be assessed. “Did you make out the mridangam is out of tune?! And, the violinist is playing the wrong ‘Ri.' Nothing short of a punishable offence, I say!” My takeaway was but what shouldn't be?

Having said which

This neighbour never talks. He is so immersed in the songs that he dozes off. Then begins... the snore!

With an appeal that halls turn more silent, and requesting that the above classes allow only the performers on stage to “sound,” I remain. . . .

(The writer's email ID is: sarma.nitc@gmail.com)

Keywords: music concert

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