Last night I went to see Asha Bhosle with the Kronos Quartet. I went because the event was run by a relative of the family - a person we care about who was trying to bring South Asian artists to the area. The venue was beautifully appointed in its contemporary styling. I had never heard the Kronos group before, but had high hopes as I enjoyed the World Music of Zakir Hussein, Planet Drum, VM Bhatt and others who fused Indian and Western music into something interesting and beautiful. When Kronos sat down, there were 3 with violins, 1 cello and a woman holding a Chinese/Japanese stringed instrument.
Then I heard the music... At first I thought it was the sound system. Could it be that they were mistakenly playing out of tune in clashing minor chords? No, this was their style, their distinct "genre." After their first piece, which seemed completely out of tune, it got worse. Imagine people playing their instrument with their eyes closed, playing as if it they were passionately playing for a symphony. Yet, what you hear is like five kids playing the violin and drums for the first time. It was horrible...but the crowd was clapping after each one.
I was trapped at the end of a row against a wall. I could not leave without disturbing many others. Yet the jarring cacophony of noise made me frequently grip my seat. Music is meant to evoke great emotion. For me, the emotion was anger at having to sit through someone scratching their nails against the blackboard. I felt the desire to get up on stage and smash the instruments. So, yes they evoked a feeling, a feeling a anger and despair. Maybe they intend this, but I do not have to sit through a concept to feel these emotions.
Happily it ended when Asha Bhosle came out on stage. She sang wonderfully with great melody and passion for her music. The Quartet changed to a more melodious form, almost brilliantly by contrast, displaying how they could make 6 instruments sounds like 20. Kronos certainly is talented and can play their instruments beautifully when they want to. As a person that is not a great fan of Hindi movies, listening to Asha's voice was tremendously enjoyable.
I thought I have heard every type of music possible and even if I did not like it, I could see the art in it. Yes, even gangsta rap. With the Kronos Quartet, this is the first time that I did not get it at all.