Times-a-Changing for Indian Music

Posted on June 9, 2012 in Media

By Mmrityunjay Nanda:

“Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” – Charlie “YardBird” Parker.

It’s a matter of fact that music does not have any concrete explanation or any exact definition. It has just different meanings for different persons which is unique in everyone’s life. For many of us music is a hobby, passion or a pastime which arouses our interests and is an ultimate bliss.

Fortunately we Indians are blessed with distinctive music resources blended with diverse cultures. The music of India is said to be one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world. Many different legends have grown up concerning origins and development of Indian classical music. These prodigies have come a long way to entitle Indian culture with raga music where the old cinemas are the sole publicists. The movies from 80s and 90s have successfully showcased our cultured music with some unforgettable golden memories.

But the elders claim that today’s music that appears in modern movies is deteriorating and spontaneously losing its quality. It is a strong belief among our elders that Indian novel music is highly influenced by western flavors where the essence of ragas are completely missing. The trendy music doesn’t even follow the classical notes; hence don’t hold a chance to be hummed for decades. Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar in an interview said that old film songs survive and are loved even today because they were based on Indian ragas – they were Indian in flavor. But film songs today ape the West and therefore cannot stand the test of time. Many old stars from Indian music industry even insist on returning back to the roots. Here you may wonder, is it a valid argument or an emotional drive?

But the young bloods don’t accept the blame at all. They believe that music; generation are two mutually influenced entities that have seen many transformations for its birth. It may be India or any part of the world but music has travelled a long way from classical to rock; from countryside to metal. I am sure of the fact that no one can deny the role of generation gap which drives young Indians towards western genres like metal, hard rock, pop, jazz & party-mixes. I even agree that today’s movie songs are made by mixing various genres and distinctive notes but this is happening as per market demands and latest entertaining drifts. Here I would like to mention few points about choice of today’s youth who is pretty adventurous, dynamic, fast & restless too. In present days they have an excellent exposure to world music strands and have a diverse taste of music to choose from. The lifestyles have enormously evolved from 80s and trends have completely changed. The latest transformed minds just prefer some fast, groovy, foot tapping & deep-toned music instead of some slow classical. Does it anywhere prove weakening of Indian music?

Lataji once challenged her interviewer to name a song from current hit list which will be remembered even after 20-30 years of time. Though oldies are still lying in some corner of our memory, but no one can ever predict the same for new generation songs whether these will be recalled in future or not. But here I would love to mention that in old days people were mostly exposed to Hindi movie songs where release of Hindi films were low in number & so the total number of songs are. But today’s scenario is much different than old days. Hundreds of new songs are getting released each day with diverse flavors availing to an incongruent bunch of people. So, the current situations don’t regale us to remember a particular song after 30 years of time from now & sometimes we don’t want to. The probability of grabbing same song from an unlimited music box may be very less these days but we can’t just misinterpret it as a deteriorating phenomenon.

Finally, no one can justify whether current music is regressing or even evolving but it is of sure that music has been transforming. It’s just like your dad’s college time pictures with long hair and busy mustache which can’t be seen anymore & neither in demand. Though we believe and respect our Indian classical music and the ragas, but now the ball is in different court. Things do change with time and no one can get hold of it. So better enjoy the transformation rather than questioning it. It’s a just a law of nature, do accept it.

Nadia Boulanger says, “To study music, we must learn the rules. To create music, we must break them.”