Let the Music In: Embrace a Digital Margazhi Season

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The digital stage is bigger and the options endless for artists who want to reach out

The dawn of another winter in Chennai is unmistakably familiar. With rain becoming a regular feature in December, puddles greet the rasikas as they make their way to the sabha halls. The aroma of the kaapi filter inspires singing flourishes of the same on stage. Concert notes flow much faster than the rhythm of the current tani avartanam, and kutcheri times are color coded for the optimal sabha jumping experience.

Listeners flock to the auditoriums, a sort of determination etched on their faces as they settle into their seats after the long journey. There is a tripod perched in the middle. The live stream link is already active for those who log in. For others, still hanging out in their cubicles, they go home, open iTunes, and the download begins. Soon their hard drives are bursting with enough music to fill their December days without moving an inch.

It is this space, floating in the digital sphere, that allows artists to innovate. They are seen in concert attire, presenting the work of the past year in the space of two hours. The personality of an artist changes from season to season. He untangles his work wire by wire through YouTube clips, live streams on Facebook and albums – new platforms allow him to build relationships with his rasikas, on and off stage. With multiple avenues open to innovation, Margazhi is getting a makeover.

Linked via live stream

“The idea is to bring art to a wider audienceence ”, explains Arkay Ramakrishnan. One of the first to use live streaming in Chennai, he began digitizing concerts taking place at the Arkay Convention Center as early as 2012.

While almost all of the concerts are broadcast across the world with an accompanying YouTube link where the concert can be viewed later, the venue is often just as crowded. It’s a testament to the art form and its actors, he says, hoping to promote young artists through the online platform.

“It’s the need of the moment, I think, to use the technology and reach a wider audience, both in terms of age and geography,” he says. Of the hundreds of concerts planned for Chennai this season, Arkay will host around 150. Although he does not plan to web concerts during the season, as he likes to bring listeners together at the Center, Ramakrishnan said. . that year-round live streaming is his way of helping emerging talent establish a musical identity.

Mudhra Bhaskar, mridangam artist and secretary-founder of Mudhra, completely agrees. Mudhra’s educational wing, Paalam, is celebrating its fifth year of year-round free broadcasting on Paalam TV. Although he does not subscribe to the culture of live broadcasting, Bhaskar says that Paalam’s selective programming has helped cultivate a society of what he calls “serious listeners.”

“The motive is to bring back the culture of serious listening. Revisit the old days, if you will, ”he says, with the goal of spreading the live experience of superior music at every moment.

Digital has become a necessity, say organizers, as they target their live broadcasts and online content to a market of seniors unable to travel, a foreign audience that misses the immersive experience of the music season, and young students. , often giving up the musical downpour of the city in the face of exams.

For Arkay Ramakrishnan, the digital environment has become a pillar of the microcosm of the arts. “Online platforms are a must during the season, simply because it is practically impossible for a rasika to hear everyone. In this way, there are no obstacles to exposure and simple listening, whether active or passive.

Bhaskar envisions a bigger future, calling the organization’s new ventures the nascent beginnings of a digital sabha. “As audience strength usually declines for live shows simply due to the volume of concerts that take place at this time of year, I thought I might explore a way that helps build our audience around the world. whole. “

And it won’t stop there. With the launch of the Paalam app last month, features like weekly concert broadcasts and 24/7 radio are now available to all of its members in the Android marketplace.

“That’s all artists’ credit, really,” admits Mudhra, as his forays into a modern arena reflect technological modernism right from the artist’s living room.

Online and unplugged

When VVS Murari sat down to design his December seasonal program for the year, an idea pitched by one of his students hit him. His daughters recorded him playing a medley, embedded it with textual details of his concerts, and uploaded it with a plethora of positive reviews.

“I’m always looking for new ways to present concepts,” he says. The prospects offered by an online platform, he says, are limitless. And yet, it all comes down to that Margazhi charm.

It’s the same charm violinist Apoorva Krishna feels as she travels to Chennai from Bangalore for another season of food, fun and performance. Still, this season is more special than most, celebrating the release of her debut album, “Apoorva Thillanas”.

It’s a proven format, Apoorva taking inspiration from Lalgudi Thillana’s famous album to create his own with artists Sriranjani Santhanagopalan (vocals), NC Bharadwaj (mridangam) and Chandrasekara Sharma (ghatam).

And yet, she speaks a new language, disseminating the album in large part through the “Twaang” music streaming resource to audiences around the world. “Everything is online these days, and with so few people buying physical albums, we need to be able to reach people in other ways. This is exactly what Twaang does, ”she said.

It is an artist’s favorite, also used by violinist Ambi Subramaniam to download content from his latest solo album, “Live at Krishna Gana Sabha”. “It’s a great platform, especially at a time when around 80% of all music in India is consumed on YouTube and other digital spaces,” he said. Twaang and other music stitching apps then serve as the perfect bridge, hosting full-fledged artist albums so they can give audiences what Ambi calls the “holistic image”.

An app for a Margazhi morning

The concept was equally appealing to Vanipriya Jayaraman when she founded the Zeekh app last year. Founded with the idea of ​​giving depth to one of Chennai’s cultural ventures, it launched the app last season in December, emphasizing a unique song request competition called Rasikadhwani which fostered a intimate interaction between artists and audience.

“Since my beginnings as a music student fascinated by musicians and the ever-increasing multitude of schedules in countless sabhas, I have had the chance to create an application that greatly facilitates the monitoring of events,” observes- she does.

It’s fairly recent and yet it has already gone through a metamorphosis. A chance encounter with Palghat Ramprasad resulted in the formation of Mani Pravaaham, named in memory of Ramprasad’s grandfather, Palghat Mani Iyer.

With the new functionality, a rasika can filter events by organizer, location, and artist, while also placing a request for virtually any concert during the season. Simultaneously, the participating artist creates a list of concerts from the database of the App, taking into account the requests he has received. In some cases, the artist may even choose to publish their list before the concert, giving the rasikas a taste of what to expect.

Vanipriya hopes this will enrich the vibrancy of the season, calling the digital space a “missing piece” in a creative puzzle that marks each season.

“We want to bridge the gap between the stage and the sabha hall, bring the audience into the electronic world and create an interconnected community. If that happens this season, the opportunities are truly endless. “

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