CLASSICAL ART : NEITHER SUITABLE NOR MEANT FOR THE MASSES - THIS IS A MYTH
By
Shri V. Subramanian

There is no denying the fact that there are niche audiences for the various categories of our traditional music, which has already acquired classical overtones. But it would be a fallacy to conclude that, in general, serious music cannot have a mass base.

The varieties in traditional music serve many tastes. It would be wrong to talk about mass audiences for all varieties as one sees in a cricket or football match. In the more serious versions of traditional music, like art music, the musician and the audience are in an inaudible dialogue which unites them. As audience forms larger, this contact will lessen and may even vanish at a given point. Hence, audiences such as the above certainly could grow but within this limitation. The musician also may be more comfortable with a compact group as in a 'baithak'.

In Dr Ranade's presentation that follows, it is pointed out that it is quite possible for even an audience without much knowledge on the grammar and nuances in music to enjoy serious music for its sheer aesthetic beauty. It is, however, undesirable that knowledge of the basics would give greater joy while listening. This is one good reason to look forward to large audiences.

The fact that serious (art) music transcends space and time is an interesting factor in the context of larger and larger audiences. Art forms become classical with the passage of time. In other words they transcend time. They also transcend space. This is seen in abundant measure through the growing internationalization of Indian music, specially Art music. Our musicians going abroad in increasing numbers working in groups with nationals creating 'experimental music is proof to this trend. Also more and more non-Indians are studying Indian music. All these are aspects of globalization and drawing of more audiences on a world scale.

The various categories in Indian music are cross fertilizing each other by borrowing adapting etc. This is undoubtedly going to make our classical musicians understand that Indian music is a multi-faceted cultural expression. By assimilating new features, their own category will get richer, be more in demand etc. creating in its wake more audience.

Good music, whether it is Art music or other varieties, has the propensity to draw sizeable audiences. It is indeed a myth that serious traditional music holds no attraction for not-so-knowledgeable music lovers; and that it will lose out to exotic forms of 'Pop' or non serious or frivolous music which does have the propensity to attract certain type of audiences in large numbers.

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