The fact that various kinds of music in India are still so much a part of our lives is sometimes forgotten by us in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines. But more careful listening, rather than a biological activity of hearing, would lead us to deciphering multiple musical strains emerging from surrounding soundscapes. This would be one of the many ways of creating awareness of the rich musical diversity that we possess but will soon lose if we are not careful about nurturing it and engaging with it.
There have been attempts at various levels to consciously explore and map musicians and locations of music-making in specific geographical areas. One such music-mapping project supported by the Serendipity Arts Foundation and conceived and headed by vocalist Shubha Mudgal, crosses boundaries of musical categories and genres.
Planned as a demographic study of professional musicians across India and the socio-cultural contexts in which they make music the project hopes “to submit the data to relevant policy makers and cultural organisations to suggest welfare schemes that would be of great benefit to professional artistes in the country”.
The website for the project also provides links to audio and video links to their music, thus making diverse musical streams accessible to the public. The pilot project started with data collection pertaining to Delhi and includes practitioners of Hindustani music from the city.
See it here.
Another music-mapping project undertaken by the Department of Instrumental Music of the Rabindra Bharati University focuses on Hindustani music in Kolkata. As the official website states: “This research project is involved in an extensive documentation of the presence of Indian Classical Music [ICM] in various forms in Kolkata and their impacts on Kolkata’s city life.”
See it here.
Perhaps, such music-mapping projects could be included on a small scale in our school and university education to sensitise young minds about different forms of music and their practitioners. Such music-mapping projects could help as teaching aids too. They are sorely needed to engage students with music in more ways than emphasising performance alone. They would attract a cross-section of students who may be interested in anthropology and history, among other subjects, rather than restricting music to those who are adept at performance.
Naturally, this would need our policy makers, curriculum designers and teachers to be sensitised first. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be happening at present.