Modern Influence on Indian Music and the Way Forward

Modern Influence on Indian Music and the Way Forward
Posted on 28-07-2023

Modern Influence on Indian Music and the Way Forward

Towards the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, a revival in Indian music took place, marked by significant developments and the emergence of modernism in the art form. Rabindranath Tagore composed unique songs known as 'Rabindra Sangeet,' while the patriotic fervor drew musicians like Kazi Nazrul Islam, Vishnu Digamabar Paluskar, and Subramania Bharati into the freedom struggle.

Noteworthy developments during this period include the establishment of institutions like the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Lahore (1901) by Vishnu Digamabar Paluskar to dilute the stronghold of gharanas over classical music and the Marris College of Music in Lucknow (1926) by Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande to revive the art of music. An All-India music academy was also established in 1919 to promote research and better understanding of Indian music, while the Madras Music Academy (1928) aimed to revive interest in Carnatic music.

Indian musical traditions were influenced by modernism, a period of diverse reactions challenging and reinterpreting older categories of music, leading to innovations in harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects. This artistic current gave rise to new music genres such as jazz, pop music, freestyle, and alternative R&B. Cross-cultural collaborations between Indian and international artists led to the fusion of Indian classical music with new art forms. For instance, in the 1960s, pioneers like John Coltrane and George Harrison collaborated with Indian instrumentalists and incorporated Indian instruments like the sitar in their compositions.

The impact of Western music on Indian traditions has been both positive and negative due to globalization and technology. The positives include wider acknowledgement of Indian classical music traditions at the global stage, the revival of Indian classical music due to interest from global artists, and increased livelihood opportunities for traditional artists in the country. Additionally, Western influences have enriched Indian musical traditions, evident in the emergence of indie-pop.

However, there are also negatives, such as some students preferring to take up Western music for economic reasons, Western music becoming more popular among the common people, traditional artists struggling to cope with modern methods of composing and marketing compared to their Western counterparts, and increasing Westernization even in rural areas posing a threat to local artists' livelihoods.

To ensure the survival and thriving of Indian musical traditions, the following steps could be taken:

  1. Provide sufficient funding to support classical artists in pursuing their art.

  2. Conduct awareness training at the school-level to encourage students to take up classical music training.

  3. Create more livelihood opportunities for traditional artists in the country.

  4. Equip institutions like the Sangeet Natak Academy with resources to research and find solutions to preserve all aspects of the rich musical tradition.

While modern influences have enriched Indian music and brought it global recognition, efforts must be made to strike a balance between preserving traditional forms and embracing the potential of modernity to ensure the continuity of India's musical heritage.

  1. Bollywood Music: Bollywood, the Hindi film industry, has a significant impact on Indian music. Bollywood songs are typically a mix of various genres, including pop, rock, classical, and folk. These songs are often catchy and widely popular throughout the country.

  2. Pop Music: Indian pop music has grown in popularity over the years. Independent artists and musicians emerged on various online platforms, creating original compositions and covers in multiple languages.

  3. Indie and Fusion: The indie music scene in India experienced a surge, with independent artists and bands experimenting with a wide range of genres. Fusion music, blending traditional Indian sounds with Western elements, gained a lot of attention.

  4. Electronic Dance Music (EDM): The EDM scene saw significant growth in major Indian cities, with international DJs and music festivals attracting large crowds.

  5. Hip-Hop and Rap: The Indian hip-hop and rap scene were gaining momentum, with artists expressing their perspectives on social issues and personal experiences through their music.

  6. Regional Music: Each Indian state has its unique cultural heritage and musical traditions. Regional music continued to flourish, and artists from different states gained recognition on a national level.

  7. Sufi and Qawwali: Sufi music, characterized by its devotional and spiritual themes, remained popular among a significant segment of the population.

  8. Music Festivals: India saw an increase in the number of music festivals, catering to different genres and drawing music enthusiasts from all over the country and beyond.

  9. Online Platforms: With the rise of digital platforms and streaming services, musicians found new avenues to showcase their work, and listeners gained access to a vast range of music.

It's worth noting that the music scene is ever-changing and continually evolving, with new artists, trends, and influences shaping the landscape. To get the most up-to-date information on modern Indian music, I recommend exploring online platforms, music streaming services, and reputable Indian music news outlets.

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