“We need to see the complex arrangements that constituted Indian music and need to break away from our tendency to see music as a disembodied, static entity,” said scholar, translator, and musician Dr. Srinivas Reddy while speaking to students of the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) as part of the lectures series under the Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) elective course.
Speaking on ‘Indian Music: Interplay of Classical and Folk Traditions, he said Indian ‘classical’ music itself needs to be placed at the intersection of theory and practice.
“Even instruments speak of this interaction. The harmonium, today popularly recognized as an accompanying instrument in Hindustani music was banned from All India Radio for being a ‘western’ instrument incapable of producing Indian sounds,” he told the audience.
However, it was brought back upon the insistence of musicians and practitioners of the craft. While in theory, the harmonium was not a classical instrument, in practice it was, he said.
On the question of the disappearance of folk traditions and classical music due to the rise of popular music, Reddy said there was no need to lament it.
“Cultures also evolve by loss”. Srinivas Reddy explained how the concept of Classical musicians performing on stage is a modern concept that was not known a hundred years ago but is widely known today.
“It involved a loss of a certain exclusivity to Classical music which was performed in religious or courtly settings. Hence, while it may appear that something is being ‘lost’ in the present, it may signal a necessary transformation in the broader scheme of things,” he said.
Reddy said the “Indian” way of conceptualizing knowledge is to embrace change and innovation while respecting all that has been offered by tradition.
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