“The urge to experiment, create and explore must be encouraged”

By Shubha Mudgal

Shubha Mudgal says rehearsing, scoring and writing new compositions specifically for the blended music could get better results

Shubha Mudgal says rehearsing, scoring and writing new compositions specifically for the blended music could get better results

Fusion music in India has often been derided and discredited as being ‘confusion’, even by artistes who have themselves been actively involved with hybrid forms of music. But contrary to the orthodox dismissal of this popular form of music, younger musicians attempting to establish themselves in the world of Hindustani classical have often embraced fusion music.

One popular strategy is to take an existing bandish and replace the conventional accompaniment with keyboards, drums, guitars. Another approach involves establishing a rhythmic pattern in a 4/4 measure, over which solos are played by each member of the band. This often results in an anarchic, high-decibel jumble of sounds. There are even a few projects, which blend Indian classical music with non-Indian elements but resolutely announce that “this is not fusion”.

Rehearsing, scoring and writing new compositions specifically for the blended music could get better results. The urge to experiment, create and explore is present in the DNA of every artiste and must be encouraged whether the experimentation remains within the parameters of classical music, or takes them towards other systems of music.

Shubha Mudgal is a Hindustani classical singer, who is also known for her indie pop numbers. She received the Padma Shri in 2000

“Meddling with pure art forms is like adding kadi patta to biryani”

By Shilpa Rao

Shilpa Rao says Indian music has evolved on a melodic structure and Western music has developed more in the harmonic structure

Shilpa Rao says Indian music has evolved on a melodic structure and Western music has developed more in the harmonic structure

All art forms have taken centuries of work to become what they are today. Amir Khusro started basic khayal gayaki in the 12th century, but Dhrupad existed even before that. Many generations have worked out every detail – what kind of raga, its purpose and its treatment.

But you can’t randomly change art forms, just like you can’t add kadi patta (curry leaves) to biryani.

Indian music has evolved on a melodic structure and Western music has developed more in the harmonic structure. So I love Chopin’s symphony the way it is and similarly a khayal for me must have tabla, sarangi, tanpura and harmonium, with Rashid Khan saab singing.

The worst ‘fusion music’ is the type where you don’t create structures. But today, Armenian jazz is proof that you can fine-tune a genre and make it your own.

And then there’s pop culture, where you express yourself in a lighter vein but with some depth.

Meddling with pure art forms comes from an escapist thought process: when you want to do something new but via a shortcut. Our cultural heritage comes to you for free, so please make the best of it.  

Shilpa Rao is a Hindustani classical and playback singer known for songs like Ghungroo and Tose Naina