Changes are constants, permanently in this temporary time ! They don’t care to spare the Carnatic Hall of Fame.
Right from the intention behind singing, the format of concerts, the pieces performed, the Raga sancharas – singing specific notes for a given raga and the Rasikas : everything has changed and continues to so! My attention in this post is drawn to the changes in the artists over generations; trust me these are observations and not judgements!
There were artists who would dare to include 2 Thaniavratanams(percussion solo played in the main piece of a concert) in one concert – which implies that they could accommodate two elaborate pieces in a performance. Owing to waning audience interest in the Raga Bhava context, many artists have shifted focus to Kruthis and tukadas. An abhang or Thillana gains more popularity than an hours Alapanai of Bhairavi, these days.
We know, and accept these dynamics of concerts. But one point; that can easily escape our understanding is the attitude of the artists themselves. A journey through generations will tells us that over years, there is a lot of westernisation. The simplest example, start with the fabric : A veshti or a Sari was what South Indians wore everyday and all the time. Today they might be confined to just to the time spent on the stage. Not a complain, but a change for everyone ought to acknowledge and accept!
There is oceanic exposure to the world. Being specific to music, musicians are also gaining amazing insights of techniques and traditions of music across the globe. This has led to many changes over the years and will be a perpetual process. Recently there was a rendition of a spontaneously composed English song in Carnatic music, in a Kucheri ! Some questioned, some praised … but that is how it’s going to be.
There are artists thriving hard to keep up the purest form of Carnatic alive. But to me what seems bigger is to respect and accept these changes, and cling to what one likes most for there are forts and palaces for both traditionalists and evolutionists ( that’s how I call it 😊)