Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mad gals in Madras

What do two sweet Malayalee sopranos, one blond Swedish counter-tenor and a jolly green Tambrahm bass do when they get together?

Open a nursing college cum online matrimonial agency with inexpensive designer furniture?


Well then?

Elementary, my dear Bhaktavatsalam Seetharam Kumar Korraguntla. They take a deep collective breath and sing 15th century European music.

Hmm. That sounds like err.. fun. 15th century eh? Did Europe have oxygen bars yet? Chicken teeka masolla? Rock shows? Oh wait, they wore afros and shiny costumes, didn't they?

Yes. Life in the 15th century was one big oxygen bar. But since there were only 27 people around, rock show infrastructure was limited to medium sized dining tables around which they gathered, sporting trendy page-boy cuts and linen tunics.

To eat mutton biriyani and butter chicken boneless full?

Yes. And to sing songs and play on lutes.

Ah, dinner music, is it aano? Then sallright. What was it called? Bleat and eat?

Close. They were called Madrigals. Usually 4 voices, two high, one medium and one low, singing complicated music. Usually acapella

Who is Acapella? Is she cute? Single? Available?

All of the above. Acapella is also the word for music that is sung with no instrumental accompaniment. Which makes it harder to perform because there are no instruments to cover up wonky notes, and tougher to sustain the attention of a 2007 Adyar Audience.

Wait, you're performing in Chennai? Two sweet Mallu sopranos, one blonde Swede counter-tenor and one jolly green Tambrahm Bass?



Two sweet Mallu sopranos, one blonde Swede counter-tenor and one slightly tense Tambrahm bass who has to set his tail on fire after the show and rush off to join his relatives at a jolly green wedding in Mahabalipuram yay.

Oh fun. So no instruments eh?

No instruments for the Madrigals, but lute and harpsichord accompaniments for the lighter songs about unrequited love, death and stuff.

Fool. They stopped making such things in the late Baroque period. Where you will get such instruments at such short notice in Madras. From your grandfather's anjanapotti or what?

In Madras, anything is possible. However, to be safe, we have cleverly transcribed the harpsichord and lute scores into music for piano and classical guitar, which are still in production, so there.

And it sounds the same?


Oh. Because the instruments are different.

Correct. And because voices brought up on a diet of nadan kozhi curry and morkozhambu performing European music on a sultry Chennai evening 500 years after it was composed, are bound to sound different. Cooler, but different.

Can't 'ardly wait luv.

Then come over to The Unwind Center's Acoustic Music Fest at KRMM college hall (Behind Adyar Ladies Club), 3rd Cross, Gandhinagar, Chennai at 6:45pm on Sat, Sep 1, to hear us. Four voices, piano and classical guitar (played by a random jolly green tambrahm). We perform for half an hour or so, after which all manner of contemporary sorts will take over the stage. Don't be late ok?



CW said...

When does yr world tour begin? Can I get a complimentary ticket?

Krish Ashok said...

When shall we two meet again
In Thunder, Unwind, Lightning or Acid Rain?
Ill be there. With laptop. Live blogging.

Bikerdude said...

cw: sure, just buy me the air ticket :)

ka: live blogging eh? yikes :)

Pri said...


pepe M. said...

darn, why that so early. my office work ends at 7 pm! sigh!

Thoppai mama said...

Queen Margot anth ondh picture nodidhvi-ri, ivru Isabelle Adjani act maadidh.

bhaaL best itth bid-ri!

aa picture-naag neev heLo haad iddhang itth.

Yaako? khaatri ittho, ill-vo anth kaeLbahudh neev.

Aenaath-andra aa picture naag heNNmakkLu haakondiro dress nodi innyaavdoo gamana kottill-ri!

RustyNeurons said...

No shows in namma bengaluru????? Wat is this i say??

Rambodoc said...

Does this show have any self-respect at all?
Doesn't it know that no show worth its salt will ignore the Kultural (Das) Kapital of India: Kolkata?
In which case, the booze and the cheeken kaarry, or tikkka moshlaa are on me!
Did I manage to drum this into your head?

rj said...

nice nice...

when can we not-so-blessed souls be able to see the video on youtube?

Bikerdude said...

KA: So you made it huh :) Thanks for coming bro. And for the very flattering blog. Pity I couldnt spot you in time to say hello :)

pepe: Didnt know you were in chennai. Will let you know the next time theres a gig in town.

thoppai mama: Our costumes were quite 21st century, so you might have noticed the singing too :P

rusty: Awf course I say. ONe is there in Sep. Will let you know.

rambodoc: kolkata here we come (soon i hope)

rj: Thanks man. The youtube thing- not sure. We only videoed the rehearsals which werent that great. Maybe next time :)

mike said...

da.. when was it.. i was in madras over the weekend.. wish i had known! :(

Tamu said...

aiyo... konjum quick aa padichundal naan ange vandhurupen ilaya....
how sad .... next time maybe ambi!!!

Bikerdude said...

mike, tamu: You were in chennai this weekend? Err tamu- you too??
Solpa confused is being.
Dont worry pannikovaadhengo. Im sure there will be a rerun of sorts at some point.

ellie said...

hi bikerdude
i work for a magazine in bangalore which features a section on blogs in their monthly issue. we find blogs from bangaloreans and the best one wins a prize. i saw the bangalore bell curve blog that you wrote and thought it was really good, if it was submitted and you won would you be interested in giving up your anonymous identity for a dinner for two voucher in a nice restaurant??

Bikerdude said...

Ellie: Ahem, more than happy to do so for a free meal :) Just kidding, and thanks!

Mac said...

16th century, I believe. Unless you mean Monteverdi, but even with him the bulk of his madrigals were composed well into the 16th. But surely your crew were singing English madrigals from the time of Queen Elizabeth, were they not?

Bikerdude said...

Mac- thanks for pointing that out. Yes the earliest piece we performed at the recital was was O Nata Lux by Thomas Tallis (1507)
By the way did do some Italian motets and madrigals (Monteverdi,Marenzio etc) as well.

Mac said...

Hmmm...Tallis was talented, to be sure, but are you certain he was composing madrigals at age 2? His dates are 1505 - 1585.

Bikerdude said...

Kill me now!! :) :)
You're right again. I dug out the music and the date on the piece seems to be his year of birth.

Must be tremendously talented though to be writing 5 part harmonies and spitting up his applesauce at the same time, eh? ;)

Mac said...

I wonder if you were brave enough to essay John Farmer's "Fair Phyllis I saw sitting all alone" with its substitution for the usual madrigal "Fa la law" of, after "Oh then we fell a-kissing, "up and down, up and down, up and down..." and if so, how it went over with a Chennai audience.

Bikerdude said...

Haha, well we didn't perform it mainly because it happens to be a rather boring standard-issue madrigal, musically speaking. The up-and-down entendre is quite cleverly concealed in the music so as not to be easily understood by anyone but the singers, so Im not sure if a Chennai audience (or that of any other city) would have figured it out.

Mac said...

Surely not so deeply buried! Nor is "Fair Phyllis" all THAT well known: you must be vastly over-estimating the musical literacy of the average audience, as indeed surely the aural acuity of a Chennai audience!

Incidentally, I should mention that I am referred to your vastly entertaining blog by a good friend who is also a friend of yours. I forbear to put my email address here in public or to refer to you by name: is the email address apparent to you as the proprietor of the blog? Or how shall we establish a more direct communication? (I propose to visit your part of the world in the new year and it would be a pity to miss out on meeting up.)

Mac said...

(underestimating the aural acuity of a Chennai audience, that is. I have, I might mention, advertised your upcoming concert among my Chennai acquaintance: possibly they will come up and introduce themselves afterwards. Is there a stage door for autograph-seekers, as outside Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and the Broadway and West End theatres?

Bikerdude said...

Err which upcoming concert? This concert happened last year :)

Sure, would be happy to keep in touch on email. My id:

Anonymous said...

Dude.. I am not much into reading, but somehow I got to read lots of articles on your blog. Its amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often. -

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