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Abhishek Raghuram at Kalakshetra, Chennai

Venue: Rukmini Arangam, Kalakshetra, Chennai
Organizer: Kalakshetra and Asthika Samajam, Thiruvanmiyur

Vocal: Abhishek Raghuram
Violin: Mysore Srikanth
Mrudangam: Anantha R. Krishnan

List of songs:

1) unnai anRi (varNam) – kalyANi (A)
2) sAmikki sari – kEdAragauLa (S)
3) jaya jaya padmanAbha – sarasAngI (S)
4) dEvi brOva – cintAmaNi (AS)
5) mAnamulEdA – hamIrkalyANi (ANST)
6) rENukAdEvi – kannaDabangALA (A)
7) rAgam tAnam pallavi – rudrapriyA – kanDa tripuTa (2 kaLai)
pallavi wordings: “dEvatE paradEvatE amba paradEvatE, anAdi shivasahitE”
eDuppu: 2 counts; arudi 14 counts
8) kalyANa gOpAlam – sindhubhairavi (O)
9) iTu sAhasamulu – saindhavi
10) tillAnA – khamas
11) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, t=tAnam, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

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Not so sound

Here is part 5 of the series I am writing on the science behind music in “Saamagaana – The First Melody“, a monthly magazine on Indian Classical Music. The intent is to help readers understand a bit more about the science behind music and musical instruments and to enhance their appreciation of the same.

This is from the August 2015 issue of the magazine

Not so sound

Howling, feedback and echoes tell musicians that all’s not sound in the auditorium. RAMKUMAR R explains all about mics and monitors on stage, padding on walls, earpieces and other things music

Why are the walls of an auditorium usually panelled with cork-like material?

Reflection of sound from the walls of an auditorium can cause echoes and undue prolongation of sound. One of the most effective ways to prevent this is by padding or panelling the walls of the auditorium with materials like cork. These absorb sound effectively and prevent echoes and unwanted reverberations.

Why are loudspeakers placed on stage in concerts even though there is no audience on stage?

The loudspeakers on stage, also known as stage monitors, are meant for the performing artistes. When a group of musicians perform on stage, especially on different instruments, it might be difficult for them to hear themselves distinctly from the other musicians around them. Hearing oneself clearly helps a musician feel the good music (s)he produces. Hearing co-artistes clearly gives comfort that the team is performing well as a whole. Stage monitors help achieve this and are thus supposed to help musicians give their best.

I sometimes hear a howling sound coming from the audio system. What is this sound and how does it get produced when no one seems to be actually howling on stage?
This is called feedback. It is caused when sound from a loudspeaker enters a microphone and gets amplified back to the loudspeaker again. It can occur, for example, if the monitors on stage are closer to the microphone and angled towards it. This creates a loop with amplification happening over and over and as a result, produces a howling sound.

How can feedback be avoided?
A few simple ways to avoid feedback are to position the loudspeakers as far away from the microphones as possible, to angle the speakers away from the microphones (and to angle the microphones away from the speakers), to place the microphones as close to the sources of music as possible and to keep the sound levels from the speaker to the lowest levels required.

I have seen some musicians perform with a earpiece or even a pair of earpieces. What would they use them for?
They could be using them to hear the pitch better. Or, most likely, they could be using them to hear the monitor mixes, instead of using loudspeakers on stage. With this kind of in-ear monitoring, the sound can go directly where it is needed, instead of getting spilled all over the stage from the stage monitors and sometimes even getting undesirably spilled into the audience area as well. One drawback of this, though, is that musicians with a pair of earpieces can get aurally disconnected from their surroundings and isolated from their audience.

(R Ramkumar is a mridangam artiste and a senior management professional. He blogs at https://ramsabode.wordpress.com and can be reached at rramkr@gmail.com)

(Image courtesy: Saamagaana – The First Melody)

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Shri T.N. Seshagopalan’s Kamba Ramayanam Isai Perurai

Madhuradhwani is organizing Kamba Ramayanam Isai Perurai by the living legend Padma Bhushan Sangita Kalanidhi Madurai Shri T.N. Seshagopalan from 14th to 22nd Aug at Arkay Convention Center, Mylapore. The program starts at 6PM everyday. Having heard Shri Seshagopalan’s discourses earlier on this as well as other topics, I would urge fellow rasikas to not miss this opportunity.

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(Image source: Madhuradhwani facebook page)

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Palakkad Sreeram, Shertalai Sivakumar and Anantha R. Krishnan for Musiri Chamber Concerts

Venue: Musiri House, Mylapore, Chennai
Organizer: Musiri Chamber Concerts

Vocal: Palakkad Sreeram
Violin: Shertalai Sivakumar
Mrudangam: Anantha R. Krishnan

The multi-talented Palakkad Sreeram switched effortlessly between vocal, keyboard  and flute. He sang and played so well! Shertalai Sivakumar was very good on the violin. Anantha R. Krishnan was a class apart!

List of songs:

I missed the first two songs
* entani vina vinturA – UrmikA (OS)
* bhuvinidAsuDanE – shrIranjani (AS)
* talli ninnu nera – kalyANi (ANST)
* rAma kathA sudhA – madhuvanti (A)
* entamuddO – bindumAlini  (O)
* bhaja bhaja mAnasa – sindhubhairavi  (A)
* bhajarE yadunAtham – pIlu (O)
* tum bin mOrE – varamu
* bhAgyada lakSmi – madhyamAvati (O)

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, t=tAnam, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

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The how and why of microphones

Here is part 4 of the series I am writing on the science behind music in “Saamagaana – The First Melody“, a monthly magazine on Indian Classical Music. The intent is to help readers understand a bit more about the science behind music and musical instruments and to enhance their appreciation of the same.

This is from the July 2015 issue of the magazine

The How and Why of Microphones

How is it that I am able to hear a vocalist loud and clear in an auditorium, even though I am seated far away from him?

When the vocalist sings, he produces sound waves. These flow into the microphone in front of him. A thin material called the diaphragm vibrates inside the microphone when struck by these sound waves. These vibrations are then converted into electrical current which is boosted using an amplifier and passed on to the loudspeakers present in the auditorium. The loudspeakers do the opposite of what the microphone does. They convert this boosted electrical current back into boosted sound and it is this sound that you hear loud and clear at your seat in the auditorium.

I went to a concert of the violinist A. Kanyakumari and couldn’t see any microphone in front of her. How then does her violin sound then get amplified?

Microphones come in different varieties. A. Kanyakumari usually uses a contact (pickup) microphone which is placed on the upper part of her violin, instead of having a microphone placed in front of her. You can identify this microphone if you notice her violin carefully in the next concert of hers that you attend. Contact microphones sense vibrations/sound waves through contact with the body of the violin.

In the concert I attended last week, the vocalist moved away from the microphone at times and couldn’t be heard well. Why? I have attended other concerts of hers where I could hear her well even if she moved away.

The vocalist may not have used an omnidirectional microphone in this particular concert. While an omnidirectional one can pick up sound equally from any direction, a unidirectional microphone picks up sound predominantly from one direction and a bidirectional one picks up sound from two opposite directions. If the vocalist did not use an omnidirectional microphone, she might have at times moved away from the direction(s) from which it can pick up sound. The microphone could not have properly picked up what she was singing at these times and hence she may not have been heard well.

I see the artists on stage sometimes signaling to the guy manning the audio equipment to increase the volume further. How does he accomplish this?

The equipment he has in front of him allows him to control the amplification of the sounds that come from each of the microphones on stage. Depending on which performer is sounding lower and/or is requesting for a higher volume, he can boost the sound coming from that performer’s microphone and make it sound louder through the loudspeakers in the auditorium.

(R Ramkumar is a mridangam artiste and a senior management professional. He blogs at https://ramsabode.wordpress.com and can be reached at rramkr@gmail.com)

(Image courtesy: Saamagaana – The First Melody)

musicrux.com

musicrux.com is a portal that gets you the latest on Indian classical music. You can get regular updates on concerts/events near you, news, educational posts and details on artists, organizations, venues etc. Online learning and many more exciting things are planned in the near future.

Here are some events happening in the next few weeks (http://musicrux.com/events):

Bangalore: http://musicrux.com/events/thematic-concert-carnatic-music-trinity

Chennai: http://musicrux.com/events/carnatic-concert-28

Srirangam: http://musicrux.com/events/concert-ahobila-jeer-swamigal-ashram

London: http://musicrux.com/events/carnatic-concert-london

Cupertino, CA: http://musicrux.com/sabhas/south-india-fine-arts