Blog post by Janani Gopalakrishnan
I was 6 years old when my grandfather forcefully dropped me to attend Classical vocal classes. I was terrified by my guru, who’d stop you and make you sing the same thing over and over again, until you get it right. If it is Shadjamam, it must be shadjamam, and MUST not go even a little to where it does not belong. She’d lose her temper, when kids sometimes just can’t take music seriously. And kids, being kids, would give her a tough time.
I was not prepared to being rebuked at. I did however get used to it after three classes. And, it also happened that I turned out to be her favourite disciple. Woohoo!
I grew with my music. I can’t quite remember how I used to sing and how my voice and abilities transformed. But, I love singing now. If I hadn’t been forced into attending those classes back then, I’m not sure what my life would be now! A huge part of my life has had me humming a favourite tune, and being happy that I could attempt what the original singer did.
Btw, I loved my guru, Sri Kamala Vaidyanathan. She is the best, one could get. I did briefly spend some very time with Gauri maami in Singapore, who was also a sweetheart and another jewel. I wish I had continued, though.
There’s something magical about music. It can transform the way you feel. I can be in my worst foul mood of all times, and all I need is to sing/hum out a favourite song, and life becomes a calm blue sea all over again. I’m sure everyone at some point, hears a song, and is taken back to a memory that otherwise had disappeared. I mean, studies say, even plants grow faster with music. So, that’s NOT the greatest surprise. Music is awesome. Duh.
Though, I love singing. There’s a disclaimer that comes with it. I love singing to myself or around the people, I’m relatively close to. I’ve always been really shy to sing in front of people/ large audience. I tremble. My voice trembles. Never been really confident about it. My father has forever wanted to do a grand Arangetram/Katcheri for me. And, not sure about the countless times I’ve excused myself from the whole crisis of having to sing in front of people. I was never ready for it. I never felt ready.
That’s maybe because, I know that there’s too much talent out there in the world, and I fear being compared to the best, and know that I can’t stand anywhere close? Perhaps. I fear being judged? Perhaps.
Coming from the TamBrahm world, there are humans who are pros at it. And by pros, I mean there are people who haven’t learnt music but can tell which Janya Ragam, the talam, *insert complex music related sanskrit terms*, and all of that, which *sigh*, I am not really good at. If someone sings a song, and asks me, “Idhu enna raagam, sollu paapom?” I’d try to guess it. It sometimes may have been right. But, I’d just shrug my shoulders, and say, “Theriyalai maami.”
Carnatic music is probably the best when you understand it. It is a science by itself. It is amazing to know all of it and more. No denials. I’m average at it.
And, I did learn Carnatic Music, (and I’m supposed to know all of it?) but I’m certainly not the best at it. I’m average at it. I DO know what I’m singing. I CAN make out if I am not singing it right. But, I’m not the best with the technicalities and definitely not the most creative with the whole “alapanai” thing.
It took me 21 years to accept that it’s okay. (And that I still have time to learn and get better should I want to.)
And, yes. I’ve come out of the cocoon. Atleast I think I have.
I recorded myself and posted it online. And that decision wasn’t made as quick as I typed it. I recorded it nearly 10 months back, and contemplated whether it IS okay to go ahead.
It is not the greatest piece you would hear. It is not perfect. I do sound off, at places. But, I’m happy and the ones who matter are happy with it too!
The journey has begun. I wanted to begin this journey with THIS song.
And, the original song’s awesome btw. I attempted to make it a little fusion-esque (?). I hope you like it.