Indian classical music to some are sounds of a bygone era. But to many the rhythm keeps them alive. Music is in their blood, music is in their voices. While they may be vocalists or musicians, there are also those who are just ardent music connoisseurs. Classical music goes beyond strumming the Indian musical instruments to churn out traditional Indian music. It is also using traditional instruments and blending rhythms to create a harmonious fusion that spells tradition with a twang.
Not fading away yet
Take, for example, the four-day Dover Lane Music Conference held in Kolkata every January for the last 62 years. Started by connoisseurs of music residing in and around the Dover Lane area in South Kolkata, successfully staged a three day concert coupling drama, music and songs in 1952. Today, the Dover Lane Music Conference brings the youth of Kolkata apart from regular listeners of classical music to a larger stadium now to witness the magic created over the years by maestros like Bhimsen Joshi. Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Shiv Kumar Sharma. Percussionists like Ustad Zakir Hussain and Allara Khan have also graced the festival with their presence. While maestros find their audiences, there budding classical artists across the country reaching out to strike a chord with the masses using this platform.
Encouraging youngsters and all
Other festivals also attempt to popularize classical music like the Vasundhara Mahotsav, the Indian International Guitar Festival to be held in January 2015 in Kolkata. Debashish Bhattacharya, an Indian classical musician who plays the slide guitar is one of the brains behind the festival. “It is the first of its kind, to create a platform for Indian classical and genres of western classical guitar, blues, jazz Hawaiian and world music. My commitment to the both ends of world and Indian classical music – to bring together youth to classical Indian music and other mainstream to create a bigger circle.”
There are guitar competitions like Indian classical guitar, Western Classical Guitar and Rabindrasangeet which endeavour to encourage budding artists to participate in the seminar and competitions that encompass the festival.
Over the years, the Debashish Bhattacharya School of Universal Music has been honing skills of aspirants through a specially designed course syllabus of six grades on the Indian musical slide guitar. Maestros like Hariprasad Chawrasia has initiated the Guru Kul, Shiv kumar Sharma popularized the Santoor, Pandit Jasraj teaches vocals to students to name a few. But Debhashish Bhattacharys also feels that Raga music should be introduced in secondary schools to create awareness of traditional forms of music.
Still room for revival and growth
There is definitely room for growth in the list of classical music listeners what with the advent of festivals and websites online catering to this genre. Take fusion music for instance, it is the in thing. After all, innovation has space in the listener’s mind. It is about an artist capturing the mood of the moment and evoking that emotion within the listener. Tajdar Junaid is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and composer who started out as a guitarist for a Kolkata based band called ‘Span’. One album down as a solo artist, today he steps into the world of Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makmalbaf’s film ‘The President’ with his soundtrack ‘Dastaan’. Two of his songs also make it in the Hollywood film titled ‘Sold’ directed by academy award winning director Jeffery Brown. Apart from the guitar, Taj plays instruments like the Charango and Ukulele and looks upto the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who popularised classical music in the West.
In the age of iTunes and Youtube, classical music can reach a wider audience more so if the youth is curious to explore different forms of music. After all music transcends traditional barriers to appeal to masses – be it traditional or fusion music.