I read Yellowface this week, Rebecca F. Kuang’s satirical (as well as funny and thrilling) novel about publishing. It is essentially a book about the loneliness of a writer in a fiercely competitive industry that seems driven by social media, and could resonate with anyone who creates any form of art. We now have the running commentary of social media, much of it sparked by the writers themselves, that could drive writers into a tailspin—as Kuang’s book shows—but creating in previous decades may have been no less anxiety-inducing. Trolls are just as debilitating to an artist whether they are on Instagram and Twitter or gossiping over coffee after a concert or a reading—and that is one of the threads in our cover story.
Hindustani musician Kumar Gandharva, whose birth centenary year celebrations have just begun, was an artist who spent most of his life hearing people criticise his approach. Classical music, whether Hindustani or Carnatic, has always held fast to its traditions, which are often abstruse to those who aren’t within its tight circles. Kumar Gandharva broke many of those “rules”. He brought theatre and literature to Hindustani music; he created compositions that stretched traditional grammar; he incorporated folk music into his repertoire. But you don’t have to be a fan to enjoy the story, which is essentially about the way music allows us to understand the world around us.
Years ago, I took one of those online courses on music and the brain. I don’t remember too much of it except for the fact that the reason music makes you feel so good is that it affects a whole lot of neurological pathways, and therefore impacts not just behaviour but also the way your brain works. If you enjoy it, it’s good for you, no matter whether you love Beyoncé or Kumar Gandharva.
And on that note, I will let you move on to the rest of Lounge, and our recommendations for the best art, books, shows, food, and yes, music, to enjoy your weekend.
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