Music Inc. 2019: Industry greats talk about restoring lost genres
Moderated by Atul Churamani, Turnkey Publishing, the panel included vocalist Shubha Mudgal; Durga Jasraj, Founder, Art & Artiste; Abhinav Agarwal, Co-Founder, Anahad Foundation & singer Papon
Music Inc. 2019 saw industry experts and artists taking part in a panel discussion on "The lost genres in the Indian music landscape".
They spoke about the need for a comprehensive cultural policy in order to get back the lost traditional music genres of India, as to get their due honour and place in the music ecosystem.
Moderated by Atul Churamani, Founder, Turnkey Publishing, the discussion panel included eminent Hindustani classical vocalist Shubha Mudgal, Durga Jasraj Founder Director Art & Artiste, Abhinav Agarwal Co-Founder of Anahad Foundation and folk and Bollywood singer Papon.
Churamani began the discussion on why people today want to watch films rather than going for the classical music concerts. According to Mudgal, "There are music festivals where a large number of people who know the genre come to listen, but yes classical music today is a challenge primarily because there is a severe lack of awareness about the form. There is a fear of it being unfamiliar. Since the presentation given by a musician equally depends on the interpretation by the listener on the work on what is happening. So there is a mindset that it cannot be comprehended by general listeners, and that has created a huge gap between the general music loving people of this country to reach the classical concerts."
"So the support for classical music is becoming very difficult and the reason being is that there are overlaps that are happening which are not necessarily artistically driven but need driven. The genres are not considered as part of the music industry as it is considered something that is practised, performed and can never make money, except for a lucky few," she added.
Highlighting key hinderance in the propagation of folk music, Papon said, "I think folk music can be really rocking and can be on mainstream too but in India anything that is not film music faces difficulty in reaching the audiences since they are not being promoted by the mainstream music industry. It's been in only the last 5-6 years that folk music is being considered as cool."
On connecting with the audience, Churamani said, "We are genuinely shrinking classical music by continually playing what is more popular."
Mudgal also highlighted the lack of opportunities to showcase rare aspects of classical repertoire.
On why folk music has been suffering, Abhinav Aggarwal said: "Our country's 70 per cent music is folk music but it still suffers because firstly there is no recording infrastructure in the villages and secondly folk musicians do not have funds to record. We took this initiative to go to various villages with a mobile recording setup to record and restore folk music. We also created a livelihood generation project as part of our CSR activity to help musicians especially those who were below the poverty line to help them earn their livelihood.”
Mudgal brought forward the need for data collection, saying, "We need to have data of how many artists we have performing in different genres across different demographies of India and we cannot think of planning welfare schemes for musicians if we do not have the numbers out there."
Talking about the need to create a cultural policy as raised by Churamani, Mudgal said, "There has never been a cultural policy to address these issues and especially to connect the traditional music with other industries like the music and tourism industry.”
Jasraj added, "I would like to create a cultural policy to involve the mainstream media to attract youngsters to the cause of propagating our traditional music. We need to create content of high quality be it on digital media platforms like YouTube, Radio and Television and it needs to be a collective effort by everyone."
The session left a food for thought and spoke about the need for an opportunity to create a dialogue with the policy makers.
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