Monday, March 16, 2009

Globalization of music



From the very beginning of the evolution of culture and the civilization, music has been one of the most popular fine arts; not only in the Indian Subcontinent but all over the world. It is one of the finest gifts which Mother Nature has showered upon us - the most import boon of our cultural heritage that the dawn of the human civilization witnessed at the very outset. In the ancient times, when there was very little communication between the stretches of the human habitats, arts and cultures evolved around civilizations, which developed mainly alongside the rivers. Music of each civilization was unique and distinct from the others. Music say, of Indus Valley civilization, was quite different from that of the Chinese, the Egyptian or the Greek civilizations. However, as the means of transport and communication made it possible for us to come closer to each other and the world looked to be a global village, music of one cultural heritage mingled with the music of other societies. Cultures and civilizations came close together and in the process influenced each other. This phenomenon of the Globalization changed the meaning of arts and culture. In this article, we will try to look into the effects of the Globalization – good and bad – in the field of music in general and music of India specifically. We will not discuss the historical evolution of musical traditions – these traditions may differ from region to region. Neitherr shall we go into the appreciation or the criticism of newly emerging trends in the field of music as these developments generally are based upon the demand of the era or different circumstantial demands. Our focus would be upon the impacts which have been, and are brought by the phenomenon of the Globalization itself.

What is music?

Music is a fine art wherein, the medium of expression is the sound. However, not all sounds are used in music. Only musical sounds are permitted. In the terminology of music, the sounds that are considered musical are called 'tones' or 'naada'. These tones are expressed through musical notes. Names of these notes differ from place to place but in the present era, it is universally accepted that there are seven musical notes in one octave. These musical notes are the alphabet of music. We have just these notes to express ourselves musically. This is the reason, these notes are said to be so important. In the Indian subcontinent, the teachers as well as the scholars of music insist on the practice of these notes. This process of getting control over the musical notes is called 'Swara Saadhana'.

A glimpse of the past

In the most of the Civilizations, initially, music was considered to be a tool of the religious practice. This is the reason why we still see musical instruments in the places of worship of most of the religions. In Indian context, the inscriptions on the walls of different temples prove this fact. In the west too, the Catholic as well as the Protestant Church supported musical expressions and we still can see pianos in most of the churches.

Alongside the religious music, another stream of music originated out of the necessity – necessity to cope with the boredom, necessity to find a source of entertainment which could relax the human mind, which was incessantly growing and becoming more and more complex. That is why; we see that in Indian context, the books of musicology like "Sangeet Parijat" suggests chiefly two objectives of music; one, the entertainment of the masses and two, the Emancipation from the worldly matters or the spiritual upgradation. From the early history of music itself, we see these two streams of music – one, the religious music and two music as a mass-entertainer.

Impact of Globalization

Now let us concentrate upon the present state of music. The present era is the age of technological advancements. Barriers are being broken in terms of virtually everything – speed, accuracy, and time – in every field of physics. Computers are getting faster and more accurate; internet is bringing us closer through the video-conferencing techniques and what not. In this age of newly emerging technologies and the trends, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to keep pace with all the new developments.

The world of arts and the artists is a bit different from that of the world of the technocrats. That is why, the artists, these days; need the technocrats to adapt their masterpieces to the changing technological advancements. The following example elaborates the aforesaid hypothesis:

For instance, a vocalist – howsoever perfect he/she may be in his field – needs the support of the sound engineer in order to perform on a highly sophisticated stage, where the most modern sound system is installed. Not only that, technical assistance is also important on the part of the lightsmen who are capable of creating fabulous visual effects, giving a new look as well as a more expressive environment to the performer. Supplementing all this, there are the Stage-managers or the Event-managers who look after the choreographical part of the event. Thus, we see that now-a-days, more and more technology has got involved along with the arts so as to make the space of fine arts a more pleasant experience. Performing on the Television is different from that of performing on the Radio, stage-performances before the audience or the pre-recorded performances. Moreover, there are different streams of music – popular music, classical music, Jazz, fusion, folk music, - the categorization can go endlessly. It looks there are endless varieties of music available to the audience these days. In all this hustle and bustle, the delicacies of the real music have lost somewhere so far away that it is not an easy task to grab them again.

The basic objective of any fine art – including music and dance – is the pleasure which has the power to hypnotize the minds of the viewers and connect them with the mental expression of the performer. When the artist sings dances or plays on the musical instrument, he/she should enjoy the same. The performance ought to reflect the mental satisfaction of the performer in order to deliver the joy upon the viewers. That is why; it is advisable that initially, one should perform to the pleasure of his own. However, in this age of the Globalization, the primary aim of the performer, apparently, looks to be the popularity with the prosperities and possessions. It is not that there were not the artists in the ancient and the medieval times who wanted to become popular as well as prosperous. Fame and the wealth have been the common desires of the human beings from the very early stages of the evolution of the civilization. But popularity by virtue of one's wisdom or the artistic calibre is different from the present attitude of popularity and the possession at any cost – by hook or by crook. This lust for the popularity and fame is the result of the Globalization of music.

Today, there is print as well as the electronic media which is capable of rising up the popularity of the artist to the highest possible or dropping the same down to the lowest. This potential of the electronic and the print media is tapped by the "intelligent" artists and in no time they are shining like stars in the sky of success. Those who promote their artistic skills carefully and in a calculative manner become famous and cross all limits of success. However, more often than not, the real gems remain undiscovered forever. The shining "stars" borrowing the light from advertising Industry, shower their brightness upon the masses who get captivated through the strength of skilfully designed advertisements and therefore bow their heads in the praise of these "stars" without even having the capacity to appreciate or criticise "the Iconic personalities". As a result, those real talents who neither have the skills nor do they get resources to promote and highlight their skills and potentials, are not able to withstand the stiff competition and subsequently, get lost to never be found again.

Another very dangerous trend which has come with the Globalization is the intention to bring about uniformity in music. We have seen that in the times prior to the Globalization, music of each and every region was distinct and had a different flavour and fragrance. In the present era of the Globalization, efforts have been made to compose a uniform kind of music so that it can be launched all over the world and thereby more money can be collected through the sale of such music. Moreover, the music Channels of TV have contributed to the trend of this uniformity. The cable TV Networks have launched some channels which are supposed to cater to the needs specifically of the so-called music lovers of the world.

In addition to this, folk music which was traditionally the simple representation of the oral tradition of the countryside has been very badly hit by the "invasion" of the media. Many music Albums are being launched in the name of the "folk music" but there is very little culture of the folk tradition in these Albums. This kind of irreasonable imposition of a special kind of music, full of Western beats and synthesized tones, cannot be called the folk music even in the slightest terms. In Punjabi Gujrati, Garba, Lavni, in almost every folk tradition, this nuisance has become a routine exercise.

Remixing or the reproduction of the previously composed music is another newly emerging trend. In the name of experiments, the previously composed music Albums is being produced in a slightly different manner. These Albums are presented with exciting and some times, vulgar videos inserting into them. The song "Kaanta laga" from the Movie "Samadhi" was presented with a new look. Synthesized tones and beats, coupled with a sensual video attached to it, it gained popularity in the new Generation. Many of them had never heard the original song. They always thought that the present one was the original song and thus the real credit went to the team which reproduced the song. The instances like this are numerous. It is an injustice to the real composer of the Album.

The last but not the least, the originality is destroyed through a very new tool – fusion music this tool is tested anywhere and everywhere these days. Fusion of North-South, Hindustani music with the Karnataka music, Indian music with the Western music and so on. Although some pieces of this kind of "fusion music" have been up to the mark and these Albums have been recognized by the artists and the masses alike, yet most of the fusion work has not been able to do justice to the world of music. The sole objective of this kind of fusion has been to grab popularity and wealth.

This does not mean that the Globalization has the problems only for the world of music. Although the originality, uniqueness as well as the diversity of music has surely been affected with the phenomenon, yet it has done many goods too. Some of these positive effects are being presented here:

Globalization has expanded and enhanced the horizon as well as the dimension of music. At present, an artists has got several channels to express himself/herself. In addition to the stage performances, one can shoot the visuals and record the song separately – having the advantage that both the audio/video parts can be attended separately. Not only this, the audio/video editing is also at one's disposal, in case of some slight errors still left. In fact it has become a static art instead of the dynamic form. Like painting, sculpture and other static fine art forms, music can also be first "proof-read" for the correction of the errors, and after the complete satisfaction of the composer, the Album can be released.

Furthermore, the internet has provided the platform for the musicians/composers to post their video for virtually all the world of musicians to view and comment. Sites like 'youtube' are giving ample space to the creativity. Other avenues include, TV channels, Radio networks, Audio/Video Industry, the vibrant world of the popular music, feature films Industry etc. There is more scope for the artists as well as the producers/composers these days than ever before. The musicians [professional/part-time] are using this opportunity to the best of their satisfaction.

Therefore we have to analyse the good/bad effects of the Globalization over music. It is not an easy task. We have to go deep into it. Then only is it possible for anybody to assess the advantages/disadvantages of the Globalization. It is a difficult task for me to draw a final conclusion about the phenomenon. That is why; I am posting this article on my blog for the comments and the suggestions of the readers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Romance: The Mirage

"Romance is the prerogative of the rich and the prosperous and not the profession of the poor and the prosaic". An eminent short-story writer, Oscar Wilde expressed the above thoughts in his famous story "A model millionaire". However, in the real-life situations, it is the latter category of "the poor and the prosaic" that is generally found engaged in the "sinful" activity of love. Therefore, we come to the conclusion, beyond any reasonable doubts that one tends to achieve the targets which are not supposed to be advisable or in other words are not meant for him/her. In fact, the rich are busy tinkling the precious metals or counting the bucks they possess. They do not have time for such disdainful engagements. Princess Diana of the great Buckingham Palace ventured in to the world of romance and she had to pay the price by sacrificing her own life. One kiss imprinted on the "cream-quoted" cheeks of Madhuri Dixit or Mallika makes news over the electronic as well as the print media whereas millions and millions of pair of lips of "the poor and the prosaic" entangle with each other and nobody notices them. Thus the act of love although is mainly nurtured by the so-called "common man" but the "holy and adorable romance" committed by the "the prosperous and the powerful" is generally and sometimes specially too, attended by the magnet of Media. The lessons which one can learn from the above description is that if you wish to enter in to a commitment of love and romance with somebody of your choice, first apply for a license from those who are the masters or the conductors of the society.

Friday, March 6, 2009

National pride versus international brotherhood


The Nationalist Forces which in different parts of the world, successfully countered the challenges posed by the Colonialism, which proudly guarded, protected and preserved the illustrious cultural heritage as well as the uniqueness of so many nationalities over the ages, can the same now prove to be a threat to the International Brotherhood? This article is an effort to discover the facts and the fiction, the tapestry of which has concealed the concept from the light of truth.

The Word Web Dictionary gives the following meaning for the word "Nationalism":

Nouns 1. Patriotism. Love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it.

Adjectives 2. The doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other.

Adverbs 3. The aspiration for national independence felt by people under foreign domination 4. The doctrine that nations should act independently (rather than collectively) to attain their goals

The aforesaid concept has been the motive power that was responsible for the evolution of many national states. This is the force that inspires the millions and millions of human beings to sacrifice their lives with a magnificent smile on their faces as and when, the need may arise. The nationalism strengthens the sentiment of the patriotism which, in turn, incessantly stands like a rock - the guiding peak - as a guardian of the nation. This is the sentiment which keeps on binding together the inhabitants of a particular land. Over a period of time, they develop a mutual sociocultural unity. This unity further strengthens the bondage between the inhabitants and thus, a feeling of national brotherhood is developed. The spiritual love for the Holy Motherland instinctively evolves as the feeling of the patriotism and nationalism inspires the fellow beings to live together like a big family. Gradually, as the time passes, they develop a congenial cultural heritage which is able to fulfill the common aspirations of the inhabitants. Hence, they love their common culture. They are bound to believe that they are the sons and the daughters of the motherland which gives them food and shelter. This leads them to assume that they belong to the land – they possess the land. This possessiveness which they cherish like a lovely dream makes them proud and some times, egoistic as well.

From this point onwards the trouble arises. They wish to extend the boundaries of the land they possess in the name of the same nationalism which helped them to grow like a family. In order to establish their superiority over the other nations, they wage war and hence inflict damages to the other nations and themselves as well. The stronger nations get engaged in these struggles in order to extend the possessions whereas the weaker ones take on the battle so as to defend their national pride as well as the motherland. None of them has the slightest desire to desist from it. When Asoka the great attacked Kallinga, there was no prior conflict between the two. Both were independently marching to the path of progress. However, Asoka's will to become a "Chakravarti" emperor, led him to declare a war against the tiny Republic. Before this war between him and the republic of Kalinga, none of the Republics had resisted the attack so strongly and so courageously. But Asoka wanted nothing short of Kalinga. He achieve his target but after so much disaster and damage to the humanity. The mission of Asoka the great was accomplished but alas! After the devastation and distress all around.

Moreover, the progress and prosperity of one nation, more often than not, troubles the other nations. Sometimes, this prosperity happens to become the cause of war between two countries. Most of the attacks on India, from the outside, were initiated out of sheer desire of looting the enormous wealth which the country possessed. The attacks of Mahmud Ghaznawi and Muhammad Ghauri fall in the very same category. There are many more reasons which are responsible for the wars between the two nations. But I will not go deep into them. My objective here is to ascertain the role of the nationalism in establishing the world-peace.

Initially, there were mono-national states. But in due course of time, the multinational states have come into being. These national states are multilingual, multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic in their demography. Therefore, the intra-national disputes have also joined the international struggles and both of them are the greatest threats to the international peace.

Presently, we are living in a world of the highest kinds of the hypocrites. On one hand, we spend millions and millions of Dollars on the conferences for the unity of the world. (The United Nations' Organization is the best example of this kind.) And on the other hand, the weapons of mass-destructions are developed in the name of the same world peace. At one level, the workshops and seminars are conducted and emotional speeches are delivered on the nonviolence and the international brotherhood and at the same time, the so-called developed States try to indirectly rule the weaker States by virtue of so-called International institutions like the IMF, the World Bank etc. the US attack on Iraq was not to defend the rights of the Kuwait but to capture the Oil-Fields of that country. The same trap is under construction for Iran too.

In India too, the BJP is using the sentiment of Hindu Nationalism in order to grab power in politics. Likewise, the Congress with other like-minded Parties is banking upon the appeasement of the minorities and other divisive forces like OBC, the Scheduled castes and the scheduled Tribes etc. by creating intranational disputes and by rousing the sentiments of the innocent people, most of the political Parties try to accomplish their goals. They are not the least bothered about the well-being of the people of this country.

Access of everything is bad. The nationalism in its extreme form is dangerous to the unity of the world and to the wellbeing of the humanity. That is why, our ancestors, while worshipping the motherland, never suggested that the inhabitants of the land anywhere are the real possessors of it. They preached that the land has been given to us by Nature with many other of its gifts. By preserving and protecting the part of land we live in, we insure that all the inhabitants of mother earth have this sacred duty to protect their portion. There is a Sanskrit verse:

सर्वे भवंतु सुखिनः सर्वे संतु निरामयाः.

सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यंतु मा कश्चित् दुःखभाग्भवेत्.

In English it can be summarized as:

May all be happy. May all be healthy. May all look like the gentlemen. May nobody be in a state of sorrow.

This is the real feeling which can lead us to the unity of the world. Concept of "Vasudhaivakutumbakam" is the most urgent requirement of the humans of the era. This can inspire us towards the real and the long-lasting peace.