Sunday, 4 November 2012

From the Vedas to the Computers: A Journey through the Milllennia

It would not be wrong to say that Bollywood Music is the most important resource of contemporary music in India. Without undermining the importance of other genres, one can accept that its mass appeal goes much beyond any other genre of music or any of its regional counterparts. During the seven decades of its history, it has seen a lot of experimentation, taking a leaf every now and then from the classical traditions, folk traditions, Western styles and Sufi genres of music and amalgamating them all without much concern about their purity. It evolved into a fusion of different styles that remains one of the most popular musical resources in this world.

 
The origins of Indian music can be traced as long back as the pre-historic tales can lead us to. It is said to have begun with the Vedas. Rig Veda set out the hymns for praying and the Sam Veda set the tunes for their recital. The rules of Vedic recitation were strict and rigorously followed, setting fanatical standards of purity that were later adopted by the experts of classical music tradition.
 
The Bollywood music, though, began on a much more humble note, with Alam Ara in 1931, as the first 'talking movie' produced in Bollywood. The seven songs of Alam Ara were nothing compared to 42 songs in Shirheen Farhad which followed next and 69 songs in Indra Sabha. Ever since then, the musical tradition of Bollywood movies has continued unabated.
 
The rise of Bollywood music was largely coincidental with its use of classical music in the fifities and sixties, after which it has always been the most important musical genre of the country. The Hindustanti Classical itself has a long journey beginning from the Vedic times and going through the fusions with different traditions, particularly during the medieval period. One of its famous proponents, Amir Khusro, used to sing numbers in dilaects drawn from both Indian and Persian languages, while following the classical traditions and creating their treatise.
 
 
 
During the more recent times, the classical tunes have been fused with , and largely given way to folk traditions, Western music and Sufi rhythms. Today, the finnesse of music is controlled and created by computers - a luxury the masters of the earlier times would not even have imagined. However, there is a danger being brought about by all these revolutions. As the dependence on technology grows, and its use as well, there could be a neglect of the human genius and artistry.
 
Computers are great for implementing a science. They are still not the best when it comes to art. Humans, it seems, will take longer to be substituted in music.

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