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Music on stage is magic

Nithya Rajendran

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It was my first ever stage appearance. I was around five or six years old. I distinctly remember the feeling. A microphone was thrust into my face by the soundman, who was completely oblivious to neither my three-and-a-half-foot size nor the feelings trapped inside that little human being. I was bewildered at my own rush of mixed feelings. Stage fright accompanied excitement as a hundred members of the audience waited quietly for me to begin singing. It was a simple two-minute song and didn’t warrant the level of nerves I was feeling, now that I look back. But when on stage, one’s fight or flight response kicks in, and the bundle of nerves becomes a natural bodily response to the situation. But something astounding happened as I started performing. As the music took over both myself and my audience, we fell into a magical bubble of rhythm and sound. It was a complete transformation of their state of being. By the end of the performance, my body had transformed from a bundle of nerves to a hot seat of feel-good chemicals as the beauty of the music, the applause, and the feelings of validation that followed that applause introduced themselves as my first experience of a high.

The stage, as I have come to see, is a magical place. A space where strangely wonderous things happen. No amount of riyaaz off-stage can mimic that experience. This phenomenon has happened time and again after that first experience. A case in point was during one of my recent concerts. This time, the stage was fancier with accompanying artists, both vocal and instrumental, giving support to my music. But the same magic happened again. As the concert progressed, an unexpected impromptu musical dialogue ensued. As the vocals, the harmonium, the sarangi, and the tabla engaged in an exhilarating creative impromptu session, the audience couldn’t help but sway and clap along. There is just an inexplicable energy that unfolds. Or, maybe not so inexplicable after all. After all, music that comes together among artists in front of an audience is nothing but a form of musical language. The language is spoken between artists and between the artists and the audiences. And as beautiful Raagas fill the auditorium with lovely moods, a bond of sorts emerges between the artists and the audience, and amongst the artists on stage too.

Our deepest desire as human beings is to bond, to belong, to communicate, to be understood, and to connect with other souls. This happens so easily on stage, as the moods created by the Indian Classical Ragas disarm the audience with surprising ease.

The whole group of people on that day during my performance day, both on and off stage, became united in the experience. Hierarchies were broken. Barriers ceased to exist. All that remained in that magical space was music and the souls that were connected through the divinity of the music.

I keep endorsing the power of music to equalise and level people. The stage and the auditorium are places one can see it happen live! We are all just one soul connected by our common desires and common troubles. Music is a way to understand that and become one with God. And nothing can come closer to experiencing this in real life than the stage and the auditorium.

Truly, music on stage is magic.

The writer is a vocalist of both Hindustani and Carnatic ­Classical music, with over three decades’ experience. She is also the founder of Music Vruksh, a venture to make classical accessible for its aesthetic and wellness benefits.

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