Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hmm. I wonder why.

I have a question for people. No, several, actually. One, is Lakshana important or is Lakshya important when you consider Carnatic music? Or, to put it this way, which is more important??

And the second: Why is it that there are always fewer female Carnatic singers than males? Now, I know you're going to point Aruna Sairam , or MS and say "Hah!", but then Ill have TNS, and TMK and Sanjay and .... well, you get the point. Also,why is it that 99% of composers are men, as well, not to mention the Trinity. Let's get something clear here, it isnt that Im complaining. Anyone, anyone who loves music will love the Trinity, and Im part of that list. But then, where are all the women?

To elaborate, a large number of girls, probably more than boys, start out learning music. Every third girl child here in Chennai attends paattu class. What happens somewhere along the way? Is it just that they lose focus, or that they face opposition at home to performing, or just that they outgrow the childish earnestness to learn and to sing?

7 Comments:

Blogger SimblyDimply said...

Women's visibility in music was affected by many socio-economic and political reasons. In the colonial era, lower caste women and devadasis were the only propagators of music, with the ban of devadasi system, no women were willing to take up music until trends changed after independence. Till then, upper caste women were scared to take a devadasi art and the devagasis were banned from it. This left a huge lacuna of women performers and composers. Forget performers, how many women composers are even known to the commoners? The case you are talking about is a complex multi-dynamic case study of women in India and their visibility in classical art.
Anyways, in response to your post on punar-nava; anybody can post comments and particpiate in the discussions. Right now just waiting for somebody to post something on it...

6:22 AM  
Blogger ramaa said...

I understand the point you're making, but today, we know that social ostracism is nil where music is concerned, its become a must almost, at least in all Brahmin households.... But even today, fewer women than men learners take up the art professionally, prefering to teach, rather than perform, maybe because they make better, more patient teachers. However as regards composers, what you say is completely true. Lets see how things change...

9:29 PM  
Blogger Musical Scientist said...

A wonderful topic for sure RR(sorry for reading your blogs so late)..I abs agree with simblydimply on those reasons she has put forward..I cant quite figure out the reason but ya..there have been some great female musicians like DKP and MLV too. I definitely would say there is no dearth of female singing talent but I dunno whats the problem..the depth is not there in most of the stuff they sing..voice laam romba sooper a dhaan irukku but that azhutham is lacking..cant pinpoint why though :( Maybe you will become one range female singer soon RR :) GO RR cheers!!

3:44 PM  
Blogger ramaa said...

Why, thank you, Sai P! :) And you're right, as usual...

1:28 AM  
Blogger kalyaani said...

u r right SimblyDimply...

it was a scaring thing even for upper caste men also.... since there were other habits, that infected the people who were involved in music..

erode nagaraj.

6:37 AM  
Blogger The Practical Idealist said...

Well, you're right in pointing out that girls far outnumber boys when it comes to attending "paattu class" at a young age, at least in Brahmin households. However, what starts as an imposed punishment, turning into genuine enjoyment in a minority of the cases (like yours, I presume), usually ends with marriage.

In this country, quite unfortunately, a woman's interests, hobbies and career invariably come to an end once the wedding naadhasvarams sound; if women escape that, there's the trap of motherhood (in this context only; I've heard it repeatedly from women that nothing, nothing at all, equals it, so I defer to that opinion :-) ). Which is why people like Aruna Sairam and Nithyashree are exceptions, rather than the general rule.

Also, for some unexplained reason, women don't seem to quite "get it" when it comes to music. I'm referring only to the "azhuttham" aspect of their music, not their repertoire, voice modulation or even richness of voice. There's a distinct lack of "something" that makes you, the listener, feel that you're not getting the finished product. For a Thamizh Brahmin-ish (only in name! it's a topic on which I don't want to get started!) comparison, you'd say "ellaam sariyaa dhaan irukku, but thayir saadham illa na, edho incomplete-a irukka maari irukku!"

10:33 AM  
Blogger ramaa said...

Lol... I agree with most of what you said, Practical Idealist.

1:33 AM  

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