Music of a different type

Music of a different type

There are many bands and individuals in the City dabbling in Western music these days. Even now, the general concept of learning a new instrument means one of the two things — drums or guitar.

This is probably because there aren’t too many people who play, or have time to teach others how to play, a saxophone, harmonica or perhaps, a harp. “I always fancied playing the harmonica and picked it up myself because there weren’t many teachers in the City. One of the reasons for their non-availability is the negligible number of students who are interested to learn such instruments.

It’s purely a demand-supply theory in place,” explains Harsha Bharadwaj, an engineering student with a passion for music.According to him, the times are quite bad for youngsters like him who are keen on picking up new instruments.

 “I once approached a guy who plays the accordion, asking if he could teach me how to play. He said it is almost impossible to find an accordion for sale even if I was ready to pay a huge amount for it. The difficulty in procuring some of those instruments also makes it a not-so-popular option,” notes the music lover.

In a country like ours, the focus has always been on Hindustani and Carnatic music. Still, independent bands and musicians have explored English and fusion music and cultivated fan bases after breaking cultural barriers. But the fact is that the idea of genres like blues
and jazz, for which many of the said instruments are used, does not go down well with many Indians.

“Lead instruments like the guitar or synthesiser are popular, more attractive and readily available. There are enough and more people giving classes on them. But an instrument like the harmonica is individual in nature and unless one is comfortable with that, there’s no point trying to play it,” says Kapilesh Kale, co-founder of The Harmonica Club.

The club comprises of only six to ten active members, who try to learn from each other and meet at home or Cubbon Park whenever they can. “We hear from youngsters who want to know if we conduct classes or not. Most of us are working professionals who are
willing to make time to share what we know with enthusiasts. But there are usually no return calls,” shares Kapilesh, with disappointment in his voice.The core problem is that people make music these days using clichéd instruments instead of allowing rarer
instruments to take the spotlight. Even in the recording studios, people prefer to
use presets, samples and other digital alternatives to record these instruments.

“I haven’t seen anybody bring in any non-mainstream instruments to jam with.
The most unique sound we’ve had here was of a mandolin,” says Biju D T, who owns the CentreStage rehearsal studio, a popular jam room for many of the City’s bands.
But not everyone in the music scene agrees to this.

“I play the banjo and the ukulele on stage once in a while and I always see a
sudden push in the audience’s excitement level,” says Bryden Lewis, the guitarist
for The Raghu Dixit Project. “I picked up both the instruments keeping the band’s sound in mind. What is not mainstream Indian folk is folk in another part of the world. We can’t just overlook them if we’re making world music,” he adds.

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