Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXIII No. 18, January 1-15, 2024

Short ‘N’ Snappy


The End of Music is Nigh

The December Music Season is on its way out. Or put another way on its last legs. Or in terminal decline. Or is moribund. The Man from Madras Musings is not saying all this. He is speaking of a certain section of our media world which seems to take ghoulish delight in saying that the world of Carnatic Music is finished for good. And it draws a ready nod of delight from a section of the reading public which no doubt opens the newspapers each morning only to read the obituary column. Thereafter it is merely a question of locating the online link to the article decrying the music season and forwarding it to everyone else. Very often the others are sending it back to the same people and so a lot of clogging happens on the Internet highway. Come January, these articles will be forgotten, until the next December that is, when the same writers will retrieve the same stuff from the mothballs and get the same story re-published. And so it has been for 97 years.

Ask any of these people as to what solution they have for arresting the decline and they will be flummoxed. Their only idea is to keep re-iterating the problem in a manner that is described as ad nauseum. Their job is chiefly composing jeremiads. Now, why is MMM so irritated with this lot? Mainly because many of these negative tracts get forwarded to him. As some of you regulars are aware, come December, MMM becomes the Man of Musical Musings and he wanders around some of his favourite locations, listening to music here, exchanging gossip there and eating snacks at a canteen somewhere else. And he enjoys it all. Yes, he is aware that the art has a few serious challenges facing it and he does his bit to mitigate some of the issues, but he does not go around pulling long faces and crying doomsday.

Pondering over this, MMM has come to the conclusion that there must be something seriously wrong with the psyche of such people. In any other community receiving a Creative City tag from UNESCO would have been a matter of rejoicing or at worst a quiet acceptance of it. Chennai’s Carnatic Music world seems to be at its apologist best while talking of this. Firstly there will be a group that will cry itself hoarse as to why the city does not deserve it. The next is a smaller lot that will be at pains to explain that music here is not only Carnatic music but lots of other forms as well (now who said that was not so?). A third lot will decry that this art is elitist without even bothering to go into the reasons why it is perceived to be so. And then you have this naysaying group that forever laments the decline and fall of the art form. If MMM were in UNESCO’s place he would withdraw the recognition at once. At least that way some these people will be happy.

That said, the art form, like so many others, is faced with an onslaught of challenges. The chief among these is the question of how to get audiences to pay. At present most artistes and a large chunk of the audience seems to imagine that Carnatic Music is funded by some cloud solution to borrow a tech term. It is at present the freebie to end all freebies with everyone, performers and audiences included, live happily in a Lala land of YouTube links. The sooner they get out of that world of hits (and no revenues) and begin focusing on real life problems of ticket sales, royalties and artiste remuneration the better. And it will help if the Cassandras can give ideas instead of just lamenting.

When MMM is heard by the high and mighty

The flood waters (how long ago it all seems now) have receded and much of the damage caused is forgotten. At least by the media. The Man from Madras Musings however remembers, rather in the manner of elephants. There is a neat flood line drawn all around the ground floor of his house. The damage will need some outlay of funds to rectify, and the Rs 6,000 the State Government has offered is not going to help much. And so it is MMM to himself as he is sure is the case with countless others.

There was a time when MMM seriously questioned as to why he should not sue the State Government for damages considering that he is not at fault for a storm water drain laid the wrong way. But then, on calmer consideration MMM realised that much of his life would be spent fighting the matter in courts and the compensation if any would probably go to some lawyer or the other and so he backed off. But in the heat of the moment he did send out a message on social media asking as to why the Corporation Councillors were doing nothing while it was the State cabinet and the bureaucrats who seemed to be all over the place. MMM did not expect anything to happen thereafter but there he was wrong.

Apparently, someone somewhere did read MMM’s post and it touched a raw nerve. So the next thing MMM knew was a plethora of posts from several of the spin doctors of the party in power. Photographs were shared of councillors in action. One of them was seen neck deep in a drain channel trying to remove a block. MMM could only sympathise with the man, but he could not help wondering as to why this councillor, if he was indeed such a man of duty, had allowed the drain to choke. It seemed to be filled with plastic and surely the man must have seen it every day that way without doing anything about it. Now he was jumping in and being a hero when the question to be asked was why good old routine maintenance was not done and why the local populace was not asked to take care of its rubbish. Obviously regular upkeep does not make for photo opportunity while firefighting does. MMM made bold to ask this question and was immediately branded a stooge of the Opposition. Not that he was any closer to becoming the darling of that group. They had not liked his commenting on their right to criticise flood handling when 2015 is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

The Councillors however were the more determined lot for MMM received quite a few pictures thereafter and then, as the flood waters receded, so did the flood of action photographs. MMM has one consolation – clearly social media has an impact, for if not, these people would have been least bothered, until the next election comes around that is.


And so, yet another year has come to pass. The Man from Madras Musings wishes you all a Happy and Healthy 2024 and joining him in wishing you all is Editor, Deputy Editor, Associate Editor, She Who Must Be Obeyed, The Woman from Madras Musings and just about everyone else who keeps this paper running.

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