With the institutionalization of the learning of music, many students in the field of music pass out every year from different Universities and other equivalent institutes. Like everybody else, learners of music also need jobs. In fact, music is emerging as a very good career option presently. New horizons are appearing and newer employment opportunities are being created in the field of music. Besides the traditional jobs for the music learners, various kinds of new alternatives are being offered these days in the light of the changing living conditions and technological development. Previously, students of music had to be content with just two or three kinds of jobs. Either they would become the teachers of music or as performers. Not enough opportunities were available to them. But with the development of new cultural and educational circumstances, new areas have been opened for the students of music in the field of employment. This article deals with new and emerging career options for the music students.
2 Traditional career options in the field of music:
First let us see the traditional career options.
2.1 Career options during the ancient period:
If we go through the history of our music, [our music here refers to the music of the subcontinent], we will see that in the very beginning of the Vedic civilization, music had attained a very high place in our cultural aspirations. Music was considered a religious act. All social and religious happenings as well as the rituals had not been considered complete without the accompaniment of music. All the three components of music – vocal music, instrumental music and the dance – were common in our cultural ethos.
In Saam Veda, there are references of different kinds of specialists with regard to the Saamgaan, a particular singing tradition of Saam. Those musicians, who used to perform the saamgaana, had been divided in three different categories: the Udgata, the Prastota and the Pratiharta. In the singing of “Panchvidh Saam” and “Saptvidh Saam” these three categories of singing maestros would sing there specified portions.
This shows that these categories of musicians were required in various rituals and on social gatherings. These Samgatas were called as “Rikdwijas”. They had a very respectable place in the social strata. In the Gurukul, which were the schools for the learners and can be compared to the present schools, the students were taught the musical skills with special attention to the saamgaan. Though the present schools are very different from that of the ancient gurukul, but still they were the substitute to the present schools. In these gurukuls, musicians were taught the music of that period. During the period of Ramayana and Mahabharata, more career-options came into existence. To categories of Veena-maestros are mentioned in this era. These categories were Veena-Gathin and Veena-Vadin. In the same period, a special class of professional musicians called Gandharwas came into existence. Many gandharwas are mentioned in the great epics. Haha, Huhu, Narad etc can be mentioned as some of them. Kings and emperors had also been fascinated towards the learning of music. Emperors like Samudragupta, Harshvardhana, were skilled Veena-players. Playing on Veena was considered a very sacred act. Ravana knew the art of Veena-playing. When Hanuman secretly visited the palace of Ravana while he was in search of goddess Sita, he saw many musical instruments in his palace.
In this period, we find that a special category of professional musicians came into being. This category was called the Kushilavas. These musicians were not only the skilled musicians, but they were great warriors too. They were trained in many skills. They could dance, play on musical instruments and they could use many weapons too as and when required. They were a kind of a psychologist and could read the face expressions. They could easily win the hearts of all sorts of people and could collect the required information’s. These people were used as the detectives by the kings and the emperors. In Arthashastra of Kautilya, these people have been named as the Goodh Purushas.
In the era of the epics, many classes of professional musicians have been referred to. In Ramayana as well as Mahabharata, we find such classes like Kushilavas, Kinnaras, Gandharwas, Talapcharas or Talapanis etc. Here mention of Talapacharas or Talapanis would be very relevant. In fact, there was a class of musicians who assisted Tala accompanists by displaying Tala Kriyas through their hands. In Sangeet Ratnakar, with reference to 10 tala pranas, four Sashabda Kriyas as well as four Nishabda Kriyas have been mentioned which were displayed by different hand movements by the Talapcharas or the Talapanis.
In Manusmriti, professional musicians like the Kushilavas have been heavily criticized. Manu has clearly stated that the musicians can be categorized in two classes: the professional musicians and the musicians in the service of the Almighty. He has condemned the former and praised the latter.
From Natyashastra onwards, professional musicians got prominence. In the Natya, several musicians were required in order to provide the background music as well as to fulfill the musical requirements on the stage too. Bharata has clearly stated that for the background music, there would be a well-furnished orchestra, which he named as the Kutup Vinyasa. Orchestral music in the subcontinent began from hereafter.
A special professional group was also flourishing side by side with the development in music. This group was of the makers of the musical instruments. With the invention of numerous musical instruments, now it was not easy to make or repair musical instruments without the help of the skilled workers. Therefore, this group served as the workshop for the artists of music. They provided the music-lovers with the suitable musical instruments so that they could give all their attention to the upliftment of the musical skills.
From Arthashastra of Kautilya, we can find several clues about the professional status of the musicians of that time. We find the references of Ganikas, charming women who were supposed to be skilled singers and dancers and who would earn their living by publicly exhibiting their charms as well as their skills. These Ganikas had specified places to live and run their business. They used to employ professional accompanying musicians like the Veena players, the Mridangam players etc.
After Natyashastra, Vrihaddeshi of Matanga also tells us a lot about the professional status of musicians. Matanga has described two kinds of Sangeet, namely, margi sangeet and Desi Sangeet. Margi was bound by a well-devised set of rules and was performed by the Gandharvas whereas Desi was like the folk music of that period.
Music was an integral part of our folk tradition. Our traditional theatre as well as the folk theatre was full of music. During the period of Sangeet Ratnakar too, music and musicians held great importance. From this work, it looks that the profession of making and repairing musical instruments was increasing manifolds.
2.2 Medieval Period:
Although, music evolved as a career option during the ancient Vedic age, (and professional musicians like Veena Vadins and Veena Gathins were present in the society), there is no clear reference as to how they were paid or what the method of appointment was. Therefore, it is very difficult to ascertain such positions in the present circumstances. However, we are certain enough that great emperors of that age employed musicians in their courts in order to teach as well as perform.
In the story of “Nal Damayanti”, king Nal was employed as a teacher of Veena. In Mahabharata also, during “Agyaatvas”, Arjuna was appointed as the dance teacher for princess Uttara.
Samudragupta of Gupta dynasty was himself a great player of Veena. He had employed various artists in his court.
During the medieval period of history, we hear of different court musicians like Amir Khusro, Baiju Baavra, Bakshu, Gopal Nayak etc. Mughal emperor Akbar, (1556-1605), was also a great patron of music and arts. He employed many musicians and other artists in his Durbar. Tansen, the great musicians, was one of them. It is also likely that there might have been some accompanying artists. Although there is no specific reference to the accompanying artists, but it can easily be inferred that during the vocal/instrumental performances, the rhythmic accompaniment must have been there. Thus accompanying artists were required in order to provide the rhythmic accompaniment. During the dance, other melodic and vocal accompaniment was required besides the rhythmic accompaniment.
This shows that traditionally, musicians had four broad categories of jobs during the ancient as well as the medieval periods of history. These categories are:
A. Performing artists,
B. Gurus (teachers) of music.
C. Accompanying artists.
D. Makers and menders of musical instruments.
Besides these four kinds of employment opportunities, we do not find any other options for the musicians of that period. Musicians earned the livelihood just by these four options. This cannot be said a very happy situation for the musicians. That perhaps was one of the many reasons as to why general public did not show any interest in learning music during that period of history.
2.3 Modern Period:
As the Europeans, (especially the British and Germans), came to India during the modern period of history, they were fascinated by the delicacies of Indian music. They initiated research in the field of music. In the meanwhile, modern system of institutional education came into being. As this system of modern education was introduced and implemented by the British, they tried to introduce a little bit of music with the new system. School prayers, with other cultural functions became the part of institutional curriculum. Moreover, in the newly organized British army, Band masters were required. Thus, new class of musicians began to emerge. Many of our musicians took to music Bands. Many music Bands were formed in different kingly states in order to please the British rulers. Great Ustad Allauddin Khan was the in charge of one of such Bands for some time. Ustad Allauddin Khan (also known as Baba Allauddin Khan) (1862-1972) was an Indian Sarod player and multi-instrumentalist and one of the greatest music teachers of the 20th Century.
Thus, music bands became popular in India during the British Raj.
There were several changes which reformed the system of music teaching. These changes had some negative connotations, no doubt. Gurukul tradition of teaching of music collapses on account the patronage of music through Durbar of the medieval rulers. Gharana system was the first victim. Artists of different Gharanas had to look for other options as the Sultanate was taken over the British Regime. British rule never directly patronized Indian artists. However, many musicians came forward to encounter the new challenges.
Great artists like Kumar Gandharva and Pt. Bhimsen Joshi had to run away from their homes in order to continue learning music. This shows that during the period of the British, the state of music was not very good. Music was considered a profession of the lower strata of the society. It was not thought to be the profession of noble men and women. Because of all this, the masses began ignoring music.
The reason of such pathetic condition of the profession of music was that during the period of Durbars, musical compositions were filled with romanticism. The flattery of the king and romance became the subjects of musical songs. The devotional music which was going on alongside with the Durbari music, kept intact in South India and in some corners in the other regions too. However, the main stream of music, which was later called as the classical music, was full of romantic depictions. This was one of the reasons that people parted themselves from this great art.
In this era when music was losing its shine, and the followers and the appreciators of music were getting lesser in numbers, two great musicians changed the scenario. These were Pt. Vishnu Digamber Paluskar and Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande. Both of them tried very hard to take music out of the pathetic situation. They created a chain of music-learning schools. Some of these music-learning centres are still running. Both of them devised a notation-system so that musical compositions might be written and preserved in the printed format. They trained the teachers for the proper teaching of music. But for their efforts, music would not have regained its lost ground. We cannot forget the contributions made by these eminent personalities.
3 New career options:
After Independence in 1947, Indian Government made music an integral part of education system. Government provided the necessary infrastructure that was required for the development of music and musicians. Thus, many new career opportunities emerged which can be classified as under:
During the ancient and the medieval periods, we have already mentioned four categories of jobs for musicians:
A. Performing artists,
B. Gurus (teachers) of music.
C. Accompanying artists.
D. Makers and menders of musical instruments.
Modern period of the history of music of the Subcontinent saw phenomenal changes in all the dimensions. In this period, notation systems were designed to write musical compositions in the print media. Audio/video recording facilities were invented, which had a great impact on our music. The invention of radio marked an era of broadcasting and the television further increased its capacity. The arrival of movies with speech output, paved the way for movie melodies and later on, it opened the field of popular music. Presently, we call it Indi-pop. We have seen the impact of computer on our music. All these happenings opened new career options for the learners of music.
Previously mentioned four categories of employment have evolved to an extent that more and more jobs are being offered to the learners of music through them. We have integrated music in our school as well as college system. Post-doctorate fellowships are being offered in the field of music research. Moreover, more and more music institutes are coming into being providing more opportunities for teaching of music. Branches of Gandharwa mahavidyalaya and Prayag Sangeet Samiti are all over India. Indira Kala Vishva Vidyalaya (Khairagarh) has been dedicated especially for music studies. Other private institutes include various music academies. One of such music academy is run by ITC (Indian Tobacco Company) in Kolkata, West Bengal. Sangeet Natak Akademy, run by the government of India, encourages various projects and fellowships in the field of music.
Besides this, some of the new career options are:
A. As an artist in TV and Radio:
Presently, Aakashvani and Doordarshan provide good job opportunity for the artists of music. We can choose to be the programme executive or staff artist in different centers of Aakashvani.
B. Orchestral groups:
One can form an orchestral group or music band and can perform independently for private programmes.
C. Job prospects in the Bollywood world:
We can refer to some big names like Pt. Ravishankar, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma; Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan etc. these personalities did not have to search for employment in the film industry because they were already established performing artists. They were distinguished celebrities in their respective fields. Therefore, it will not be proper to say that they came to the film industry in search of career options. In fact, most of the times, these personalities were contacted by people in the film industry in order to give a new dimension to their films. Sometimes, these people came to films in order to make new experiments in the field of musical compositions. On the other hand, many ordinary musicians have been and are coming to the Bollywood in order to earn a living. This great entertainment industry offers a great opportunity to the artists of music – vocal or instrumental music alike.
Musical instruments like flute, guitar, santoor, different kinds of drums, different categories of violins, sitar, sarangi etc. are in demand constantly. Proficient of these musical instruments have ample opportunity of jobs here. Moreover, music composers are also required to compose music for different feature films as well as the documentary films.
D. Advertising industry:
Although the film industry or the Indian cinema is the biggest institution with regard to the world of entertainment, but other agencies like the advertisement agencies, the cable TV networks, National Films Division, various production companies engaged in preparation of TV features for different TV channels etc. also play a great role in providing employment to musicians of different backgrounds.
Jingles for numerous advertisement agencies provide the alternative opportunities of employment. Those who somehow, do not get opportunity in the world of cinema directly try their luck in the advertising industry and get some space to survive and struggle for their success in cinema. Advertising industry is very much related to the world of cinema. These two industries apparently, complement each other. Many actors and actresses, who generally work for the films, can also be seen in different advertisements on TV and other forms of the media. Likewise, many singers give their voice to the jingles recorded for different advertisement agencies. Famous playback singers like Kailash Kher, Alka Yagnik etc. have fluently given their voices in many such ads. In the ever-increasing consumerism, the advertising industry is growing at a great pace. Numerous big as well as small advertisement agencies have mushroomed in different cities of the subcontinent. These agencies employ many musicians in order to compose and playback music. These prove to be multipurpose artists.
E. Music journalism:
There are many newspapers and magazines who employ cultural correspondents. We can opt for such employment opportunities. Music students, who have also a degree in journalism, are preferred for such posts.
F. Music Therapy:
Music can be used as a tool for a happy and a healthy life. Presently, dance and music have been used as alternative medical therapies in order to have a good health without using harmful drugs. We are aware of the fact that music can affect the growth of plants in a positive manner. We are also in knowledge of the fact that more and more doctors are advising their patients to include music-listening in their lifestyles. Nada Center of T. Sairam is running many courses on music therapy.
G. Dance therapy:
Likewise, dance therapy is also getting popular these days. Dance is the most fundamental of the arts, involving direct expression through the body. Thus, it is an intimate and powerful medium for therapy. Dance therapy (also called dance/movement therapy) is the use of choreographed or improvised movement as a way of treating social, emotional, cognitive, and physical problems. Throughout the ages, people of many cultures have used dance to express powerful emotions, tell stories, treat illness, celebrate important events, and maintain communal bonds. Dance therapy harnesses this power of movement in a therapeutic setting and uses it to promote personal growth, health, and well-being.
Dance as therapy came into existence as a marriage of sorts between modern dance and psychiatry. It was pioneered by Marian Chace (1896-1970), who studied dance in New York City before establishing her own studio in Washington, DC, in the 1930s. Because Chase's dance classes provided unique opportunities for self-expression, communication, and group interaction, psychiatrists in Washington began sending patients to her.
By the mid-1940s Chase was giving lectures and demonstrations, and other professional dancers soon followed her lead, using dance to help people with an array of emotional, mental, and physical problems. It was not until 1966, when the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) was founded, that dance therapy gained professional recognition. Today the ADTA has nearly 1,200 members in 46 states and 20 countries around the world.