Without the sound and fury

Without the sound and fury

The music market is mercurial. With Electronic Dance Music (EDM), House and folk-rock creating waves in the City and new artistes in these genres born every day, it seems like acoustic music is being slowly swept under the carpet and this basic form of music — vocals accompanied by a simple instrument — seem to be sidelined.

Musician and beatboxer Vineeth Vincent has a deep connect with acoustic music. “In my opinion, there is something about artistes sitting in a corner with an instrument and pouring out their soul. I started off as an acoustic musician and feel it’s always good to know how to play instruments. I have seen that a number of venues have stopped hosting acoustic artistes. There has also been a sudden rise in EDM and pre-recorded music over the last few years. Many acoustic artistes have told me that there aren’t
many places which pay live artistes and performers well. I prefer to listen to a live artiste when I go out rather that listening to an overly-pumped speaker with booming bass.” 

He feels that the voice of acoustic music is drowning in the clutter of entertainment and blitzkrieg. He is currently curating ‘Acoustic Nights’, an event at Church Street Social, every Wednesday. The set-up mainly comprises solo and duet artistes with an instrument, and a number of artistes from home and abroad have performed as of now. These include Dhruv Visvanath from Delhi, Julius Mitchell from Sri Lanka and Robin Madier from France.

According to Vineeth, to bring back acoustic music, a number of factors are essential. These include programming quality musicians, good payment for professional artistes, a sound live audio, change in people’s attitude towards musicians and being responsible musicians. He says, “We are looking at developing acoustic music at a smaller scale. Smaller venues cannot afford big acts every week and the technical requirements for larger acts are hard to supply to such venues.”

 Jerusha a vocalist, says that she hardly hears solo acoustic musicians in the City. “Artistes who work with vocals and instruments are more popular when they are in college but it gets a little difficult to completely take the acoustic route after they graduate.”

‘Eastern Fare’, an acoustic-rock band, was formed to increase the awareness of acoustic music. Jim, the lead guitarist of the band, says, “We found that there is an excess of electric and electronic bands in the City. Technological advancements and college graduates becoming DJs by using software, freeware, loops and grooves, have contributed to the rise of electronic music.”  

However, despite such challenges, acoustic music continues to garner a sizeable crowd whenever acoustic acts take place. Jason of ‘Allegro Fudge’, an acoustic band, says, “Music evolves and has different styles. People can play songs in the acoustic or electric route and there is a market for different kinds of music. The genre one chooses to play depends on the artiste, what kinds of songs and market the artiste wants to
attract.”

For example, Jason adds that people who want to grow as song writers or instrumentalists, take to the acoustic route. Jim says that the essence of Indian classical ‘raagas’ will be kept when they are played in an acoustic guitar.

Jason points out, “There is nothing wrong in taking whichever route as long the music is not diluted. The thought has to transcend to music and one has to visualise both forms as separate institutions.”

Parth, another acoustic artiste, adds that there is a balance to acoustic and electronic music. “I don’t think acoustic artistes struggle. There are venues which give opportunities to artistes of various genres and there is a balance in terms of audience’s interests.”

Though one can argue that different spaces of music cannot be compared as each has its niche, the acoustic form of art goes straight to the heart. It performs the basic function of music — of bringing in the ‘lilting’ feeling without any jarring synthesisers and speakers.

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