Friday, July 24, 2009

The AIR Experience

The AIR (All India Radio) experience:

As I was filing away my recent contracts of radio programs, my eyes fell upon the contracts signed during my earlier years and my thoughts went back to the different experiences which have been of great help to me in learning many things.

As a school-going girl, I had sung many times in vAnoli anna's (Sri.KoothappirAn is fondly called so) programs for children. Later on I passed the audition and got to sing in Youth programs, participated in music quiz programs on AIR and so on. After this, I appeared for audition with my mother and we sang in the "Duet-Devotional" category for many years. This was the time when I got to learn many devotional hymns of rAmalinga swAmigaL, tAyumAnavar, AzhwAr pAsurams, tiruvembAvai,tEvarams,jayadevar's ashtapathis,nArAyaNa theethar's tarangams and so on.

Then I appeared for audition and got my B-Grade in AIR. Step-by-step progress led me on to a B-High grade and subsequently an A-Grade.

While in college, we also participated in the vrinda gAnam competition(group singing) and won the first prize. We had the fortune of receiving the prize from Vidwan Maharajapuram.Sri.Santhanam.

In all these years, the most valuable thing that I have learnt through radio concerts is meticulous time planning in a concert. I am of the opinion that radio concerts have helped me a lot in this regard.
In a radio concert,typically the last song gets affected, either due to lack of remaining time or lots of remaining time ! This has happened to me more than once during live broadcasts. Either the last song would get cut abruptly or I would be singing different sangatis of the pallavi line (of the last song) after finishing the song, to fill up the remaining time ! The official from the other room would signal through the glass panel that there are 40 seconds remaining and I would go on and on, looking at the large clock in our room. 40 seconds would seem like 40 minutes to me :-).
Sometimes, due to improper planning,the main song would tend to get dragged on a bit and after the neraval, kalpanaswaram and tani got over, we would realize that there would be no time for a small song to finish the concert, and somehow to me, this would look like an incomplete concert.

Over the years, these little things have really taught me how to effectively plan a concert. In the middle of the broadcast, the official usually signals to us from the other room indicating the time that has already elapsed in the 60-minute concert. For instance,if he signals that 24 minutes have gone by,say,after the first two or three items, I quickly calculate 60-24, and allocate,say,5 minutes for the last song. For the remaining 31 minutes for the main item, prudent planning for a detailed Alapana,kriti,niraval,swaram with 5-6 minutes for a tani has to be done, to give a rounded effect to the concert. And,all this calculation is to be done in a jiffy,while the announcement for the next song goes on air !

In retrospect, radio concerts have made me mentally very alert about time planning in a concert, at the same time, with NO compromise on the emotional and aesthetic aspects of our music.

Each concert is a learning experience.


Sathej said...

Leafing through old documents et al - turns out to be so nostalgic for me. Long-lost memories, things to which am attached beyond describable limits and so on.

Anyway, nice post reminising of the old days. Yes, radio concerts, I believe would help a lot in planning and also in rendering even short 1 hour concerts with a sense of fullness..


Antharaathma said...

No performing musician's blog/website has a post on DKP post her death.Pity!

Gayathri Girish said...


You are actually wrong - Vidushi Veena Gayathri's blog does have a write-up on the legend Smt.DKP.

I had drafted a post here a few days back, but it got deleted and I am in the process of recollecting and re-typing the whole thing.
It should get posted here by tonight.


Antharaathma said...

Hats-off for your integrity:to have published the comment and ensuring that the obit-post was up.Thanks for the only other pointer:that's about 10%of musicians-online!Not something to be proud of :(After all it's the owners' prerogative to decide on what to blog about-but what's written and what's not certainly reflects on them.

Gayathri Girish said...

Yes, it is my humble opinion that each one of us,as musicians,has to give due respects to such Vidushis and Vidwans,irrespective of whether one likes that style of music or not. Each one of them had unique qualities which made them the great souls that they were, during their lifetime.

Smt.DKP may no longer be physically present in this world-but her music will live on for ever..

Suresh V. said...

Nice pic... Was this when you were at Meenakshi college? Still in touch with these friends?

Gayathri Girish said...

Hi Suresh,
Yes, this was while I was doing my B.Sc Mathematics at Meenakshi College ! (First year I think). Of the five others in the picture, I am in touch with three of them.