Sweet December is here and so is the Music Season. The Man from Madras Musings dons a musical hat during this time much to the distress of the Chief who, rather like Aurangzeb, prefers music to be buried deep. But as this is the time when the Chief lets the Yuletide spirit take over, he overlooks this minor transgression of MMM and forgives and forgets. Come January, Chief and MMM are back to brooding on matters of pith and moment. Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit would about sum it up.

An integral part of the Music Season is, of course, the lecture demonstration, when the theoretical aspects of the performing art are discussed with vigour and animation. MMM usually enjoys these as much as he does the actual concerts. But of late he finds a certain pattern emerging in these ‘lecdems’ as they are called. It is only now that MMM understands what an editor-in-chief-cum-founder of a musical magazine meant when he labelled those who speak on music as ‘lec-demons’.

As is well known, the golden age of this art was in the 2nd Century BC as is vouched for by some of its audience, who were clearly around even then. MMM, who like everyone else is not growing any younger, certainly agrees when it comes to the lecdems. Most of them keep repeating the same stuff that was churned out for years. Some are one-topic lec-demons – they did a Ph D on it, say, sometime in the 1940s and then dine out on it for ever after.

As for the actual lecdem – it is quite easily done. After all, when you have been speaking on the same stuff for years, it should flow out. It is, however, in content that most of these lecdems suffer terribly . Almost all speakers waste their time on inanities – thanking the organiser, thanking the committee of experts who sit in the front row, thanking the audiences that sit in the rear rows, thanking the sound man, thanking the person who is operating the laptop, and so on. This takes around ten minutes of the allotted fifty.

Then follows a longish paean to their Guru who is dead and, therefore, is canonised as a saint and an all-knowing expert. This takes up a further 15 minutes. This is generally the cue to launch into song. Most of these lec-demons have a lingering feeling that they would have blossomed as concert stars if only the audiences had had some true appreciation of worth. So they make use of this opportunity to give their singing voices an airing. This takes a good twenty minutes. And then comes the time when they look at their watches and exclaim in a shocked fashion, “Oh, is that the time? I got carried away and never noticed. This topic is an ocean and you can never do justice to it in 50 minutes.” It always makes MMM wonder as to why the speaker then accepted the lecdem invitation if he/she was of the view that the time given was inadequate.

But to get back to the lecdem. The shock about the passage of time is followed by a beseeching request to the chairperson for ten minutes more. No doubt the ocean requires an hour and not fifty minutes to speak on. The request for extra time is usually denied, chiefly because there is another lecdemon waiting in the wings. That means it is time for the vote of thanks which is basically a repeat of all that was said at the start. Then it is time to sidle into the wings, to the sounds of some sporadic applause.