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At these jam sessions in Chennai, it’s the audience that takes centre stage

An independent musician has started Motta Maadi Music to give listeners a chance to sing.

As the musicians tweaked their instruments and played a few chords, their eager audience settled down. It was a warm Saturday evening. The sun had dropped, and the rooftop in Nanganallur, a suburb in South Chennai, was bathed in a dull light. Slowly, as the performance began, the band just played the music – it was the audience of 350 that sang Tamil film songs with gusto.

The audience and the band were part of Motta Maadi Music, or music on the terrace, an initiative that calls on music lovers in Chennai to jam on a rooftop. The brainchild of sound engineer and musician Badhri and his bandmates, Motta Maadi Music “puts the limelight on the [audience]”, while “the musicians take a backseat”.

“In most performances, [we see] it is the musician who performs while the audience [largely] claps, shouts and hums,” said Badhri, who goes by his first name. “But everyone [should be part] of the music.”

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