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Mikeless music has limitations

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The Economic Times, June 11, 1989

Listening to music without the medium of the ubiquitous lights – as I have always mentioned in this column before.

But then the setting for such concerts has to be a compact room in which the required rapport between the performer and the listeners gets naturally established from the start. To stretch the idea for featuring mikeless music – vocal or instrumental – in bigger auditoria can, however, be as frustrating as it can be exasperating to the artistes and their listeners alike.

Ironically, this is precisely what always happens at concerts featured by the NCPA in its various audotiria.

I refer to the vocal recital of Yeshwant Upadhye who was presented by the NCPA at its Little Theatre on May 29. Upadhye is a senior disciple of Pandit Firoz Dastur, the kirana, veteran. Although music is not his profession – he hold a senior position in a multinational company – he has had the benefit of his mentor’s guidance for over a decade, and he has put it to fruitful use by harnessing his talent, imagination and, last but not the least, his total dedication to his pursuits.

Upadhye happens to be an artiste with a voice that is utterly mellifluous, with a good range. But it dos not have the volume which can do without a microphone. Indeed, one doubts if he was adequately audile to the listeners seated beyond the first two rows, specially when he was singing in the lower octave. I was lucky to have my seat close enough to the artiste to be able to listen to him with a sense of fulfillment.

Upadhye began with Madhuwanti, followed by Puriya Dhanashri both rendered in khayals, vilambit and drut. And each composition was spread over half an hour. Malkauns, a mandra-pradhan melody, heard next, was in vilambit and madhya laya, and the exploration was restricted to only 20 minutes. The jogiya devotional, “Harika bheda na payo”, provided the fitting finale to a memorable evening concert.

While Upadhye’s depictions showed a sure sense of form, design and structure, cast in the familiar kirana mould, I found his malkauns to be the best of the fare, despite its brevity. A noticeable but refreshing change was seen in the way he sang his yogiya in dipchandi taal, as against the usual jhaptaal to which this popular bhajan is sung by most other stalwarts of his gharana. Yet, Upadhye’s presentation had a grace of rhythmic lilt of its own which accentuated the mood of the theme.

The instrumental sangat came from young veterans Onkar Gulwady (tabla) and Vishwanath Kanhere (harmonium). Both played their role with practiced ease. Kanhere occasionally sounded a little louder, though, obviously because of the absence of facilities for balancing the instruments. This would not have happened if there had been a microphone and an amplification system.

Finally, one is constrained to remind the sponsors that the earlier they overcame their obsession for presenting music concerts without the mike, the better it will be for the artistes and the listeners alike.


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