Speed thrills, but…
Despite a strong voice, Salem Gayatri did not make an impact.
Salem Gayatri Venkatesan.
Lack of emotional content, a tame texture to musical vocabulary, undisguised exploitation of speed and alapanas going back and forth… all these took away the merit away in Salem Gayatri Venkatesan's concert for the Sri Thyagaraja Seva Samiti on Bahula Panchami day.
She has enough manodharma and a well-disciplined vocalisation but her over-anxiety to make her presentation impressive made her effort stereotypical. The gift of an obedient voice drove her to make everything sparkling and dazzling.
Her main weakness was to over-stretch brigas in alapanas of Thodi and Kalyani. But one significant aspect was that she never resorted to contrivance of voice to feign grace and elegance.
The way to breathe life into a raga alapana is to put faith in gamaka and madhyamakala sancharas. Good music is an ascent from the ritualistic to subtly suggestive aesthetics.
Shift in focus
Mere speed-based technique sans gamaka took Gayatri's attention away from depth and tranquillity. The accuracy of the rendering of kirtanas is not the main task for a musician. He or she has to address the beauty of the composition and when this happens, exposition automatically gains stature.
Being a Bahula Panchami concert, she chose some good kirtanas — ‘Vedalanu Kodandapaani' (Thodi), ‘Enduko Nee Manasu' (Kalyani), ‘Enduko Bhaaga Teliyadu' (Mohanam) and ‘Raga Sudharasa' (Andolika). An interpretative method to showcase the sahitya and sangatis would have taken Gayatri's recital to musical excellence. She would do well to go deeper, beyond the externalised exposition to give meaning to her manodharma which is helped by her strong vocal training. Her temptation to speed ripped through her singing technique.
In keeping with today's trend, Gayatri was not wanting in an overdose of rehearsed swaraprastaras, the bane of Carnatic music. In contrast to the vocalist's tendency, the support of violinist V.V. Srinivasa Rao was passive, combining sincerity and experience.
The concert was an inspiration for mridangam player Nellai A. Balaji.
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