26 December 2011

Music Festivals: Dos and Dont

Winter is a beautiful season in Pune. Besides lovely weather, excellent veggies (I refer to their quality not price!), sales and exhibition galore, there are usually several cultural programs as well. Despite several artists performing throughout the year, the period following Divali is particularly busy. Music festivals both small and big mean a virtual auditory feast for music lovers! And these are not simple three hour affairs, but are spread over a period of 3-5 days.

Since 2003 I have attended several such 'utsav' because that is what they are - music festivals!  The audience obviously largely comprises die hard music lovers. However there is a small percentage of people who are present there simply to accompany their loved one who loves that particular music genre/artist or to
merely 'log' their presence at the event or youngsters (a rising number of them seen these days) who tag along with their 'group'. Prestigious events like the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen (the last name added from this year) attract Hindustani music aficionados from across the seven seas!

I like music. I enjoy music but for me it has to be in small doses in relative comfortable seating. A full music therapy dose comprising five hours daily for five days is not something that I can tolerate. After a while, the back and neck start complaining and the mind begins to drift as the eyelids droop ...
I have now developed a strategy to make the experience more enjoyable.
Those in such a position will benefit from this post. 
  • First and foremost, scrutinise the program and identify the artist that you like. The trick is to arrive late or leave early so one can catch this performance.  
  • Watch the interactions between the supporting artists and other musicians on the stage. I firmly maintain that a live performance demands excellent team work and good leadership as they deftly share the limelight, let others lead and combine their efforts to have the audience eating out of their hands and asking for more---which is what the program is all about! 
  • Next up, carry a book or newspaper or better still, your iPad or Kindle. Dont we read and listen to music at home then why not here?? Do ensure your neighbours are not disturbed.
  • The by now ubiquitous smartphones are a good way to be physically present but mentally absent. There is lots you can do: for starters...update your twitter or facebook status, update your blog...
  • For the tech-averse- look around and watch expressions of people around you, admire sarees of other ladies in the audience (yes, some of them really do turn up in wonderful outfits, exotic bindis and earrings-whether its their normal way of dressing or customised for the event is something I wouldn't know).
  • Explore the variety of food stalls outside- a must for foodie Punekars (one needs nourishment to appreciate music after all) or stalls selling music CDs etc. Usually one can find relatively uncommon recordings and artists at such stalls. Irrespective of your seating (the elite sofas or the down to earth 'bharatiya baithak' all stand in the queue and partake from similar plastic cups/paper plates. After their performance, some artists are often spotted checking out the fare on offer!
  • Scan the people thronging these stalls or the audience rows to identify any one whom you know. This is vital particularly for those who wish to be 'seen' at the right places.
  • Carry along a pillow/bolster (especially if your seating is in the 'bharatiya baithak'). they are very useful for a quick nap or to support that aching low back! 
As far as don'ts are concerned (ref title post): Those who cannot or will not tolerate music, should best stay away from such events.

We would welcome more innovative ideas. Till then, enjoy!

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