A pre-teen disciple of mine asked me recently, "Sir, you have asked me to listen to various great artistes. But who do you think is the best?"
"That is a tough question," I parried. "It's like asking which is the best fruit - mango, jackfruit, banana, grape etc. Each one is fine but what you like depends on your own taste."
"So is it always about 'A' being just different to 'B'? Is there nothing like A is better than B? How would I know if I heard an average artiste or a great artiste?"
In a flash (after many years of rumination!) I got the answer. "It's all about CID."
"CID, sir? I love mysteries but I thought we were talking music!"
"Oh, it is not that CID like police investigators," I said. "CID stands for Content, Intent and Delivery. Almost anything in life can boil down to this. You can use this formula to track anyone including yourself!"
"Sounds cool, but could you please explain more?"
"It's simple, really. One has to be very strong in intrinsic Content. If you take music as an example, this includes command over basics like perfect pitch, rhythm, tone, grammar and rules (of various ragas), voice or instrumental technique, quality repertoire, improvisational skills, which you get through consistent focus and hardwork over a few years. This is what gives a take home value to concerts."
"Wow, that's a lot! But not enough?"
"Ah, that was just science! Art begins only where science ends. One must polish it and package it attractively so that the Delivery has instant appeal to audiences across the world."
"So, Art is all about making Science exciting?"
"Yes, but the science has to be strong for it to be quality art".
"We have covered the tough C and D. What about the 'I'?"
"Actually, Intent is probably the toughest one. It is about honesty and integrity, no matter the city, venue, age or level of the listener. You must give 100% in every note you sing or play. You must never take an audience for granted, dilute music just to get an applause or spread the wrong things carelessly. I'd put Intent as the tilting factor when assessing two artistes who were otherwise equal in every way."
"So if A's CID is better than B's, A is a superior artiste."
"Bingo! I knew you were sharp!!"