Renowned classical singer Shubha Mudgal and tabla maestro, Dr Aneesh Pradhan, recently conducted a public lecture on ‘Perspectives on music in socio-cultural and eco-political contexts’ at International Centre Goa (ICG), Dona Paula. The event was organised by Goa Institute of Management (GIM).
At this session, Mudgal elaborated on the socio-cultural aspect and music, and stated that many a time, it is assumed that musicians work in isolation due to riyaz, meditation, etc. But in reality music is not made in isolation. “The music we make, the lives we live, sing, play, write is very much impacted by the happenings of this world,” she said.
Then, by singing a few songs, she explained how nature, culture, religion, mythology are an integral part, especially of Indian classical music.
Dr Aneesh Pradhan stated the ground realities related to the world of music. He added that it was highly stratified just like our society, even though we may not acknowledge it. There is a hierarchy between the vocalist, instrumentalist, accompanists, dancers in the musical community.
He gave the example of how, in the past, certain music forms – such as thumri, dadra were looked down upon as they were not considered ‘pukka songs’ since they were sung by professional women artists, like courtesans.
He further said that this hierarchy continues today amidst first generation musicians, but in a different form. Mudgal elaborated that nowadays, on YouTube, one may not find the names of accompanying artists, but only that of the main artist; or for a government-sponsored events, there might be images of the ministers, but no images of artists, etc.
They also spoke about the corporate influence on the music world – for example, listing the name of the brand before the name of the event or a legendary musician.
Pradhan also stated how sensitivity and understanding of music is dwindling. He gave the example of the kawwali — which is sufiana music — which is sometimes performed during a corporate event, in the presence of an audience which is busy drinking, eating, etc. So, there is no element of respect shown for that form of music, which is about the Almighty.
During an interaction with the audience, Mudgal spoke about social media trends in music and how it has killed diversity and plurality. She stated that if certain kinds of songs get popular, there will be millions of songs of the same kind; so there is no attempt made to experiment or re-discover what we already have.
She, however, commented that social media has indeed democratised the whole process, as now, musicians are not dependent on the music label or TV channel to take their music to the world.
She also stated that social media is changing the way music is made in many ways. Mudgal gave the example of the riyaz, since many musicians now share their riyaz on social media. She commented, “Riyaz is something one did in solitude. It is meant to examine your limitations, introspect in brutal honesty. If you are sharing it with the world, then you will put your best foot forward. It becomes a performance.”
She concluded by adding that there is a need to understand music, be sensitive about it and contextualise it.
A GOAN INSTRUMENT
Prior to this event, Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan engaged in an interaction with the students and faculty of GIM as part of the B-school’s ‘Distinguished Visiting Scholars’ programme. As part of the initiative, the management students, faculty, Goa’s folk artists and music maestros discussed strategies on mainstreaming Goa’s traditional percussion musical instrument – the ghumat.
Ajit Parulekar, Director of GIM, said, “We are focused on creating socially responsible business leaders of tomorrow. Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan are not just musicians, they are scholars in the field of music and academics, and we feel privileged to be able to give our students the opportunity to engage with them and get their insights. This is truly a great learning experience for students.”
During the session ‘Mainstreaming the Ghumat: A hackathon to discuss future strategies for the instrument and its practitioners', Mudgal and Pradhan, faculty and students deliberated on the challenges and nuances of the ghumat.
Goan folk-artist, Kanta Gaude, was also present to give an insightful peek into his experiences with the instrument, followed by a performance by the folk troupe.
During his address, Aneesh Pradhan said, “As we all know, the ghumat is an integral part of the world of Indian music. Its distinct sound can be identified easily and is loved by many. It has encountered many problems in recent years. Mainly, the controversy surrounding is the use of the skin of the monitor lizard. People have tried experimenting and coming up with other alternatives to combat this issue, but nothing sounds like the authentic ghumat.”
The students at GIM presented the introduction, context, and problems of Goa’s traditional musical instrument, the ghumat, and suggested solutions in teams.
Harshda Gholve, a student of Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) who participated in the Hackathon said, “I realized that to preserve our traditions and music culture, we need to do much more than be a mute audience. We came up with the idea of using new trends as well as traditional mediums such as social media, street art, influencer marketing to enhance the cognizance and visibility of the resource such as ghumat.”