All forms of art have a role to play. However, most art today is increasingly moving towards entertainment. This is because anything of depth does require a certain degree of patience and faith to experience and these two qualities are at a premium in society today.
Indian classical musicians now reduce the alaap portion and quickly come to the composition which is simpler to appreciate and often recognisable. Great technical virtuosity confers the title of ‘child prodigy’ and we hear of such youngsters on page three.
But Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar used to say: ‘Chalis saal tak bacche ko hum stage par aane nahi dete the – kahin wo bhul na jaye ke woh kis liye ga raha hai’ ( We did not allow the child to come on stage until he was 40 years old, lest he forget why he was singing). When a reporter asked Gangubai Hangal why she had no shishya, her reply was that she could not find a student willing to put in even a small percentage of her learning effort. Recently, when I asked the late Carnatic vocalist D.K. Pattamal’s husband, Shri Easwaran, about future greats in Carnatic music, he was able to give me just one name.
Describing the four stages of development in art, the sufi mystic Hadzrat Inayat Khan wrote that the final stage only happens through meditation, because it comes like a miracle. It is no longer only art but a direct expression of the soul. Many young musicians are very creative but if they do not reach the final stage something very important is missed. Is that why many listeners are touched by the imperfect recordings of yesteryear musicians like Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, M D Ramanathan, Ustad Aminuddin Dagar or Hirabai Barodekar but not by even the live performances of many classical performers today?
One of SPIC MACAY’s objectives is to give our youth a glimpse into the mystical world that these great masters experienced. But for us to be successful the young person would have to develop some patience and faith.