It has been a while since I wrote anything on this blog. However, today is special as I got to know that my rendition of Sri Venkatesa Suprabatham was featured in the beginning of the Hindi movie, Evening Shadows. You can see my name in the end credits of the movie. Thanks to the director, Sridhar Rangayan who considered my voice for his movie. The movie is streaming on Netflix so, do watch it.
As artists/musicians, we often think about why the audience is not taking our work seriously. This can include people not spreading the word about our work or willing to pay for our work. We tend to get frustrated and eventually, we would feel self-doubt and become ashamed of our own talents and skills.
In moments of shame, we often look for instances to assign blame. We would start finding faults with the world and why the world is not recognizing our work. However, more often than not, the problem is us and not the world. It's highly likely that we haven't been working right.
In his interview with Chase Jarvis, Seth Godin offers two possible reasons your art isn't recognized by the world yet: 1. People don’t know what your art is for. 2. Maybe you aren’t that good at your art.
I will be addressing the second point in this blog post.
So, how can we offer something valuable to the society?
Seth Godin in his book, The Dip talks about the lie of diversification, which validates the tip #2.
One reason I love the Indian Carnatic Music concerts is the lack of assistance using technology to make the concert experience better. Most of the Carnatic Concerts do not have any sound engineers, or big mixing consoles or any major technology that replaces the human effort by covering up the flaws. Technology can push things down to mediocrity by making people fall into the trap of perfectionism to escape shame. Therefore, if you want to make it big as a Carnatic Music artist, you need to be really really good.
Another strategy some of us would choose to get recognized for our work is doing something 'different' than what the others in the same field have been doing. I have heard many of my friends, who had taken an unconventional career path, convincing their parents and peers of their decision saying, 'Sachin Tendulkar didn’t complete his schooling and went the unconventional way of becoming a cricketer and he is famous and rich. Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg was a Harvard dropout and yet he made it.'
While these are true they are also, superficial reasons. What my friends couldn’t see is how Sachin and Mark became what they became. The how is more important than the what. They were so good at what they did and that’s the reason they made it big, not simply because they chose to go against the status quo.
Clearly, what this requires is embracing a growth mindset.
The other day I searched for my full name on YouTube and saw my songs in other people’s public playlist. It was heartening to see that your work is out there in the world and people are curating and listening to it albeit not going viral or trendy.
I had the fortune to collaborate with IndianRaga's intercity labs held in Chicago in September 2016. The final audio recording and video shoot was preceded by almost three to four months of rehearsal sessions over the web and was followed by several iterations of editing and post production work. Finally, it is here.
Here are a couple of pictures taken during the final shoot and during the rehearsals.
We often say, ‘where words fail music speaks’. Art forms exist to compensate for the limitation that language provides. Does that mean when we get better at articulating our emotions, we tend to rely on art and music less? Well, I guess so.
When I was in undergrad, and I had just got my first full-time job, I was at that stage of life (18 - 24 years old adult) where I had encountered a plethora of emotions such as friendships, love, financial mismanagement, identity crisis, conflicts with parents, and so on. I was an emotional and mental mess.
Adolescence is a confused phase of life that can help you make better art. Precisely why college students seek out for more new music to listen as they find solace in the most confused stage of their lives. The quality of music we make could depend on our age and at what phase of life we are in.
Another factor is the place you live in. Residing in a crowded metro in a highly populated third world nation means you are regularly exposed to pain and sufferings of people around you. All these can serve as an inspiration to make art.
Personally speaking, since I started blogging the urge for singing and making music for expressing myself has reduced. I still do my daily 'riyaz' as a way to keep my voice and knowledge sharp but, the throbbing need has definitely reduced. Maybe as our command over the language improves, we find lesser need to express ourselves through music and other art forms unless of course, it's a source of livelihood for us.