Use of Music in Kannada Plays
Music and dance were the fundamentals of drama, but then, Bharata warned against overdoing any of them at the cost of a harmonious blending and beauty. The professional stage somehow disturbed the balance between music and the other aspects of drama by overdoing the former especially in the early stages of its career. Almost every speech and action was musically elaborated. A stage play in the first quarter of the 20th century usually had eighty to hundred songs and twenty to thirty Kanda and Vrtta. It was not different on the Marathi stage, where music had become the greatest blemish of the Marathi productions. Music was an integral part of the drama. It was used to enhance the feel of romance, dance, and even for a fight scene music was used. Even Varadachar paused to sing a leisurely-song while chasing the deer as Dushyanta, or while chasing the escaping Draupadi, as Keechaka. It was common that the hero sang before chasing the bandits who abducted the heroine. Thus, musically elaborating as to what he would do to the bandits when he caught them. A mother with a child at the point of death would sing a pathetic song in two or three ragas keeping perfect time the while, and it must be said to the credit of the child that it very obligingly refused to die till the music also came to a dying close. An able actor some times ignored his role to perform a regular musical concert by singing songs which were favourite to the audiences in response to their applauses, whistles and once mores, and, if it was a musical duet between rivals, the audience themselves had to intervene to bring about a peaceful end to the play. Music, instead of lifting the play, lifted itself at the cost of the play and disturbed the balance and good impression.
Music as a Support to Actors
Many an artless individual found place on the stage only because of his or her music. Though an illiterate, a dancing girl played the heroine mainly because of her musical abilities. It naturally became a hindrance to the progress of the stage, and an insult to its morality. After the advent of social themes, the undue importance enjoyed by music began to sink steadily. Enlightened artists like Garud, Raghavachar, Peer and Hirannayya were responsible in showing the stage-music its rightful place in drama. They established with the examples of their own performances that a play social, historical or even mythological could sustain itself and capture the audiences without music in it. They showed that a real actor with a sense of rational portrayal could make a glorious stage career without being able to sing. Today, the stage-music is at its low ebb, if not totally absent. The professional stage has yet to learn that the objection is not to the stage music itself - far from it - but to an indiscriminate employment of it; it has yet to strike a compromise between the excesses and a total absence of it
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