SESSION : THE TREASURE ON HAND
VARIETIES OF HINDUSTANI MUSICAL EXPERIENCE
By 
Dr. Ashok Ranade

Dr. Ranade views that Indian music could be seen as thriving in five categories. However, the dividing lines between the categories have never been firm because music in all these have been a part of a living tradition.

These categories are : primitive, folk, religious, art and popular music-s. All the categories possess certain structural features and give identifiable musical experiences.

Dr. Ranade's presentation gives an elaborate over-view of each category. He brings out interesting facts like the near absence of audience as a separate entity in primitive (ADIMA) music because there is a general participation and no one is entirely engaged in listening to music. He points out that folk music is distinguished by a dominance of melodic songs which essentially consist of sustained, unbroken sounds and is 'hummable'. Regional folk music indicates a pan - Indian nature as also the essential unity of Indian culture. Also folk music tends to maintain a 2-way relationship with art music.

He defines popular music as a product of many sub-cultures which co-exist and interact in a society and is inexorably ruled by market economy, demand v/s supply, profit margin etc. In the final analysis, it is the socio-cultural and not the aesthetic criteria that become more relevant in popular music. Devotional music, the points out came into existence largely as a result of the saint-poets' or their followers' work in different Indian regions. A characteristic feature is the inherent flexibility in this oral tradition which makes the metrical moulds employed conducive to accommodate an uninhibited stretching of individual words, variable line-lengths etc. and allow more freedom to composers and performers. He also explains as to how the rhythm and melodies employed give priority to mass-appeal.

On Art music, Dr. Ranade's analysis shows that performers serve to attain aesthetic or artistic goals; and in return bargain for an aesthetic appreciation from the audience. He enumerates the sholastic and performing streams as two distinctive features. He argues with force as to why art music affords more scope to individuals than to groups. In this context, he touches upon the impressive genres like Dhurpad, Dhamar, Khayal, Tarana and Gat. When it comes to knowledge of music for a rasika of Art music. Dr. Ranade draws an example with disarming simplicity to cricket match or sport where one can play and enjoy if one knows the rules or rest content with the thrill and the exhilaration one feels when blood circulates faster and limbs move smoothly !

Art music often joins hands with the artistic efforts like painting, drama, dance etc. for attaining new artistic goals; at the same time, it can assert its independence and achieve excellence.

He exclaims that never in the past have we seen so heavy a musical exchange within the five categories as now. Ideas, instruments, imagery and the like are moving from one to the other category with remarkable ease. The distinguishing lines between categories are getting blurred because each category is increasingly exposed to music from other categories. Consequently, there is much borrowing, imitating etc. from all. Hindi film music heads this trend.

The scene is thus exciting. The music lover has choices and the musicians have sensed them. Here is music for all tastes.

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