Monday, September 18, 2006

Random rhapsodies
Music Mania

If technology has invaded all facets of our lives, can the realm of music be left behind? Thanks to techies today we can listen to music anywhere, anytime through any device. I can enjoy my favorite song as a ring tone of my mobile. I can listen to my choice of music as I work, play, drive, shop, eat…music and I have become inseparable. Thanks to technology old music can be saved for posterity. Thanks to all kinds of wizardry music is certainly going to enjoy the patronage that was never seen earlier.

But, pause that button and think! What is the kind of music we would be listening to? Sure, the golden voices of the past are always there for us to enjoy. What about the present? Truly democratic I should say. The monopoly of a few selected singers has given way to scores of voices who prove that the ‘unheard melodies are sweeter’. This is certainly a positive signal for a nation with multi-crore population. It’s good to see fresh talent getting recognition.

One of the trends that catches my imagination is the use of SMS to rate the singers. With so many talent shows being beamed on all the TV channels I get a feeling that music and singing has been reduced to a mere game of mammon where each channel is competing on the basis of SMS its singers/contestants receive. Joining this bandwagon is the host of music directors who have their personal favorites as their contestants. Not to mention the music production companies who support these programs.

Take Indian Idol for instance (modeled on American Idol) the talent show is quite entertaining as the rounds begin. It’s a good launching pad for talented singers. However, as the competition gets tougher, there’s intense heat among the rivals. Recently I got to see something that was absolutely sordid to say the least. The amount that would have gone into making publicity for this aspirant ‘idol’ would have easily been used for a better cause in promoting music.

Let me not be judgemental. Today anything can be passed off as music. If I say something against a particular singer or his or her style of singing then I may be expressing my intolerance at abundant variety of music. The classical ‘gharanas’ have their modern day equivalents in the style of the music director. The ‘riyaz’ is reduced to a few hours of practice. And performance can always be edited to get the desired effect. Hence a singer need not be right the first time. The lyrics can be anything…I leave it to your imagination.

Change is certainly necessary in whatever we do. This applies to music lovers as well. I don’t crib like I used to earlier when I heard a remix of my favorite Kishore or Lata number. I don’t sound prudish when the ‘music videos’ go on. I’m certainly more open to new interpretations of delivering and presenting music that was made in studios with latest techie gadgets. I don’t complain if the lyrics hurt my sensibility. This is because I have a lot to choose from: I can still fall back on evergreen oldies from films or modern classics from Swades, RDB or Parineeta. And of course, when I need food for my soul I have my collection from Times devotional music. When I’m in mood for country/romantic numbers there are a whole lot of English numbers to choose from.

Nevertheless, my worry continues… what about my little nieces listen to when they grow up? Will they croon along with the soulless numbers that are dished out by the TV channels. Well, they might. That’s ok. Perhaps my parents would have had similar thought about my choice of music when I was a teenager.

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