MUSIC BLEEDS through borders, runs in the vein of billions of people and binds them together. The language of music needs no translation but the recognition of the soul behind it. In the international arena, Indian classical music has been the hallmark of the Indian identity. With the dynamics of the music trade changing, the international acknowledgement of Indian music testifies to its worldwide appeal.
Although historians have attempted to trace its past accurately the fact remains that it is timeless. It’s an art and science inseparable from our education. A modern scientific study of music would translate into the theory of vibration and the physics of sound. Over time, many great personalities have cultivated it with their creativity and watered it with their soul. Bhimsen Joshi’s vocals ring through the heart; Ravi Shankar, an honorific sitar player, has a global audience and composer Zakir Hussain’s tabla beats are the rhythm of our existence with nature.
Music in India is largely associated with Bollywood and musicians who want to gain popularity stick to film music. Our industry is brimming with brilliant music composers and lyricists, but only a few are original. Our audience is unaware of many independent artists shining in the international arena.
Unlike commercial musicians, independent artists prefer being away from the media glare. Approximately 70 percent of the market is dominated by Bollywood soundtracks. However, this hegemony has started to dissolve because of the international audience. While Zakir Hussain has two Grammy awards to his credit, AR Rehman is an Oscar and BAFTA awardee.
Carrying the legacy forward, musicians like Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones are coming up with new sounds and collaborating with international artists. Also, broader distribution channels have helped. The retail revolution, and impending radio privatisation, has given a boost to independent artists. Also, with big record labels like Sony and Universal, the marketing of independent artists has improved.
The essence of India can be felt through its music that pacifies the spirit and penetrates the soul, for the raga alone verifies Indian philosophy.
Vaagisha studies at the Amity School of Communication, Amity University.