Friday, 22 August 2014

Description by Chinmayi Sripada

A highly learned gentleman told me today that even if the legendary singers of yesteryear's were to audition on any of the current day music competitions, they would be 'disqualified'. Only because they'd only be immaculate singers. "They'd be told 'oh you aren't performing' 'Why aren't you moving..?'... also what they are wearing how they look is more important than how they sing, he said.

At the Mirchi Music Awards in Mumbai earlier this year, Mr. Sonu Nigam demonstrated how a 'non-singer' could be made to sound like he sings really well. He asked Manish Paul to hum a few lines and a sound engineer was called on stage to demonstrate how he corrects flaws (Manish was asked to sing as bad as he could.. I am sure he can hum decently like most of us) and ....voila! A singer is born.

In the same event I heard Mr Sonu Nigam and also Sri Udit Narayan sing and couldn't but help feel joy that I get to hear perfection.

We are in a time when anyone is told he can sing and it is definitely cool. The listeners hear a badly sung song on a sound track but they like it anyway, because I am told, they feel like the singer they are hearing on the radio/CD sounds as good/bad as they do. Is it like identifying with the boy-next-door characters in films?

I sometimes question, why aren't learned musicians saying anything? Is playing to the gallery so important that the concept of good singing, drastically compromised? Songs which would until a decade earlier classify as 'scratch' tracks (in recording parlance) now find limelight on the official track-list of a film.

Have people stopped respecting the talent of a trained singer? I remember when I hosted Super Singer, a special guest on the show said it is not necessary to learn singing to sing in films. "Paattu hit aana porum" they said. I was worried wrong advice was being given to aspiring singers but in less than 5 years, I saw it play out. Terrible singing is being celebrated. A layman perhaps doesn't know/care if something is sung well or not. He just needs to identify with some emotion in the song or lyrics as I have been told.

Many say, songs don't 'last' like the used to. Its always about the next catchy number. "We still listen to Viswanathan Velai Venum and Dum Maro Dum without getting bored, don't we?" they ask. And they say, they can't remember the dance number that was popular 5 months ago.

(Let me tell you here I love tracks like Kaasu Panam Dhuddu ... It is fun. It is quirky. Makes me smile and shake a leg. Such songs have existed through time)

I don't know if I should be worried as a musician because of the film music the next gen is listening to. Or I can just switch it off and go.

But not just as a professional singer, but as a listener I would like to listen to good music, to be honest.

The emperor walks naked. And he will be celebrated until perhaps a child .... plays a fiddle brilliantly, I guess

- Chinmayi Sripada