Wise words

R. K. Srikantan’s disapproval of deviation from tradition in Carnatic music concerts has come at the right time (Friday Review, September 10). As it is, there is enough scope for innovation and manodharma in our music system. While there could be differences of opinion on such aspects as the nature of the swara (flat or sharp) and the inclusion of foreign notes in bhashanga ragas depending on one’s patantara, our maestros of the past and the present have always adhered to the grammar of music in letter and spirit. Such experiments as starting a programme with a javali (why not mangalam?) and ending with a varnam is just not done. The fad of novelty for novelty’s sake will not last long, if not supported by rasikas.

A. Seshan


Veena’s tonal quality

This is with reference to the review of Bhavani Prasad’s veena recital (Friday Review, September 4). We refer to a section where the writer has expressed the desire to see the traditional Saraswathi Veena being used increasingly on the concert stage. The sound produced by a Saraswathi Veena is undoubtedly unparalleled in terms of melody. However, this is true only if the veena is used in its pristine form (i.e. no contact mike). The moment one uses a contact mike, the sound is no longer a result of its resonance from the hollow of the ‘kodam.’ It may be interesting to note that two veenas using the same microphone may produce a sound that may be as different as chalk and cheese. We are yet to see a perfect contact microphone that highlights the right tonal qualities of a Saraswathi Veena, with the exception of perhaps the instrument used by the great Vidwan S. Balachander. To reach out to a large audience, we have turned to the electronic veena as sufficient amplification is possible without much ado; tonal quality can be fine-tuned to suit the artist’s need; in case of a duet, the tonal representation of the two veenas is similar; and, the instrument can be easily transported.

Jaysri and Jeyaraaj