Length / Duration of Indian Classical Music performance

By Prof Sanjoy Bandopadhyay



Dr. Sanjoy Bandopadhyaya is Chair-Professor (Ustd. Allauddin Khan Chair), at the Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. He is also an acclaimed Sitarist. As an academic and performer he has given thought to serious questions, which determine the direction and momentum of evolution. On the question of “speeding up” Indian classical music by winding up a Raga in a few minutes Prof. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay expresses the following opinion --

Prof Sanjoy Bandopadhyay

I like this question.

Let us think it this way. 

Approach 1

How a performer sees the importance of the performance time. It all relates to how a performer gets appreciation. [Also; general understanding of goodness generate from the performance of star performers. A performer becomes a star performer when s/he gets acceptance from a very large mass of listening public. Whatever the star performer does usually comes to be accepted as good by the performer fraternity.] Longer duration is good if the listening public accepts it. Earlier days this was accepted as creditable because most of the performers could not improvise freely and competently. This may be one approach how you may see it.

Approach 2

The second approach is, if you can perform like the magic piper who takes the whole lot of boys to the seas -- then you can do anything you wish. A three minute performance is good and a 5 hour one is equally good. The point is how strong is the spell and how capable you are as a performer to cast and retain the musical spell over the audience.

Approach 3

The audience never decides the length or quality of the performance; the performer does. The musicians teach audiences to listen -- it is always true. So, if a group of able musicians decide to go for longer performance then they should try to teach the audience how one should listen to a longer performance and why. I always tell my students that when one goes to a concert hall [in a city like Kolkata] most people spend 1 hour to 2 hours on transit, 3 hrs. in the auditorium. The music should have the credibility to account for this spent time and should be able to justify to the music-lover why he should not spend this time in a coffee house or on some other activity. This is a big problem. I have discussed this point with many matured people.

In addition to above I feel like adding a paragraph that came out as sub-product.  

For good growth of Indian Classical Music acceptability in the society:

  1. The musicians MUST be able to cast good spell over the less-initiated or non-initiated public. [I believe this is possible through my own experiences.]

  2. Widely propagate the Indian Classical Music that bears the qualities as described in point 1.

References :

Talking Music: Sanjoy Bandopadhyay

Prof Sanjoy Bandopadhyay's home page

In my view: Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh

In my view: Pt. Rajshekhar Mansur

Aitijjhya Concert Report

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