Fusion is rocking!

Fusion is rocking!

Art, with all its facets, is ever changing and so is music, its democratic subset.

These days, while just a handful of people are going behind original classics, many want sensational fusion sounds like Celtic pop, Carnatic-Gregorian sounds and country folk.

In the City, up-and-coming bands have been trying out fusion music in all its varied flavoursCity-based bands, like ‘Divine Raagas’ and ‘Hamsadhwani’, are on the rise, helping listeners and critics consume their different sides.

While fusion is a blanket term, it is often confused with  ‘collaboration’, ‘remix’, ‘mix’ and ‘mashup’. Fusion is a melting pot rather than a salad bowl.  

Ramesh, the drummer of ‘Hamsadhwani’, says that for the fusion of a Western and Indian song, the scales of the former have to be collaborated with the latter.

“This requires instrumentalists to understand both systems perfectly. Carnatic ‘Kritis’ have to be played a number of times and a pattern has to evolve while processing music.”
 
However, a mashup is a composition created by blending two pre-recorded songs and overlaying one track over another. He adds that mashup is mainly used in pop style.

“Mashup is a different system altogether while fusion is an alloy.”

Lyle Rodericks and Shanelle La’ Porte, who have a YouTube channel consisting of different mashups, say that a mashup requires the artiste to understand two tracks carefully, and know the timing perfectly to see where to create harmonies and when to overlay a track.
  
To break away from the politics of language that ‘fusion’ tends to create, Harish, vocalist of the Carnatic progressive rock band, ‘Agam’, says, “Fusion is a highly abused term. Bands that play Melodic metal, Celtic Carnatic and psychedelic rock fall into fusion but today, the term itself is a misnomer.”

Another aspect of fusion are its two evil twins — experimentation or innovation and tradition. Although, an artiste should not be orthodox in style, the question of whether the original sanctity and authenticity of the song is retained or diluted in fusion music comes into play.

Harish calls this notion of purity as ‘elitist’ and questions, “Who knows what is pure and what is original? I learnt Carnatic music but I don’t know if what I learnt is pure. I don’t think nomenclatures like this should exist as it doesn’t help learners or listeners.”

Ramesh adds that whether innovation or tradition, fusion has helped increase listenership and the overall health of the industry.

“Music lovers go back to original, classical songs once they listen to its rock version or metal version. Fusion sees two stalwarts under the same stage, and increases the confluence of cultures and goes for new trends,” he says.

Technology has helped musicians collaborate with even those from abroad. Opportunities, especially for DJs, have opened up in terms of mixing and producing new sets.

DJ Tuhin says that technology has helped him experiment with different tracks like house, ‘tribal techno’ or psy-trance.

DJ Tuhin adds, “Fast evolving and improving technology has made things easier for DJs. As a producer, we only need a computer and the right software and we are ready to create two different systems altogether. For mixing songs live, a DJ doesn't have to manually mix two tracks anymore. A DJ has the option of doing so much more than just mixing from one track to another through technology. Sometimes, it’s harder to work within the framework of an existing song than creating something new altogether.”

As there is no hard and fast rule, fusion must be judged on its own aesthetic merit rather than being resorted to comparisons to the original.  Fusion is perceived as a different system, with a voice of its own and with different technicalities.

Ramesh says, “A musician essentially has to pour their heart out, fusion or otherwise,” while Harish adds, “If a musician is honest to his art, he will go far.”

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