Tunes beyond boundaries

Tunes beyond boundaries

Experimental music

Tunes beyond boundaries

Bengaluru is often referred to as the rock and metal capital of the country but it is no surprise that there is a market for all kinds of music here. 

As bands spring up by the day, newer genres are germinating giving music fans a real treat. 

One of the unique features of the industry is the growth of ensembles which look back into traditional forms of music and present them with a twist. Be it Carnatic, Hindustani, ‘Rabindra Sangeeth’ or Western music, city-based bands are trying to blend different genres. 

With bands like ‘The Raghu Dixit Project’, ‘Swarathma’, ‘Agam’ and ‘Advaita’; new-age bands are presenting different shades of rock and pop, adding a ‘desi’ twist to heavy metal and in turn helping experimental music to stay alive.

Harsha, the flautist for ‘Hamsadhwani’, a Carnatic fusion band, says that most of their members are trained in Carnatic music. They try to replicate its essence using Western instruments giving age-old, traditional ‘krithis’ a new punch. 

Though the band revisits ancient Carnatic ‘krithis’, ‘Hamsadhwani’ tries to keep the essence of classical music in place.  

“Instruments dominate our band. We don’t have too many vocals. The members on Western instruments play Carnatic solos and ‘swaras’, along with Western harmonies.”

The band has an audience across all ages as the older ones love to listen to Carnatic music. 

Harsha adds, “People do get fascinated by our experimental music. They listen to more cover versions of a ‘krithi’ after watching us perform.” 

Similarly Shubham Roy, the vocalist of the folk and fusion rock band ‘Kalari — Strike A Chord’ “reconstructs and revamps the structure of old songs. The band has revisited a traditional ‘Baul’ number by giving it a punch through bass and drums. 

They have also added a twist to the classical ‘bandhish’, ‘Piya ki Nazariya’ in ‘Raag’ ‘Yaman’.    
“Experimental music is appreciated by everyone. The music industry is still evolving and there are newer genres and instruments coming up. People like the music and relate to it when we infuse elements from different genres.” 

“However, decisions to go experimental are not always intentional,” says Buddhadeb, the vocalist of ‘Divine Ragaas’.  

The band fuses earthy Indian music with rock and their compositions draw influences from multiple genres rooted in ‘ragas’. 

He says, “Our songs are mainly contemporary ones based on a ‘raga’. When we jam and try to meld in pieces of melody, we build a song around it. Some songs may be in a particular ‘raga’. It’s not about what will work always but what we as a band want to say. There may be certain influences from ‘Hindustani’ music in a guitar solo but we try to stay true to the baseline of our instrument. The song also has to sound interesting and relevant when it is ‘raga’ based.”

Experimental bands do face challenges when they try to make a perfect concoction.  Harsha says that trying Carnatic solos on a guitar or a keyboard, keeping the timing and the ‘tala’, and playing solos in the same ‘raga’ on a Western instrument can be tough. 

Shubham adds that revamping the structure of a song becomes challenging because one has to figure out what instrument you have to use for which song. If the feel of something is mellow, one has to use an acoustic violin or guitar and not resort to heavy bass. It is important to retain the essence.”

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