Will acoustic music in Goa become a thing of the past?
BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Music is a quintessential attraction – the other being fun and food – that has drawn tourists from the world over to Goa through the years. Western, Indian, jazz and traditional are the genres most linked with Goa.
However, technology seems to be upstaging acoustic music, partly aided by the limitations set on playing music by the Supreme Court of India.
“You cannot fight technology. A change in styles of playing music was slowly coming, but the pandemic accelerated the process. With the restrictions on not playing music after 10 pm, acoustic music is beginning to disappear,” admits Marino D’souza, who started as a drummer in the eighties.
Bands and beat groups flourished in Goa before the ban on playing music after 10 pm, with most of them charging upward of Rs 40,000 for beat shows and dances.
“There was a lot of money then. There are no beat shows now, dances are a handful and music cannot be played during a wedding after 10 pm. The problem of noise pollution could have been solved had the parameters been on decibel levels,” argues Marino, who after retiring as principal of an ITI plays for a band called Sound of Music.
“Music is about getting people to dance; share good times and feel comfortable with the person one is dancing with. Today, dancing has turned into drills. It is difficult to see couples dancing these days, and our band is trying to change that through acoustic music,” avers Marino, who at sixty-plus is comfortable playing most instruments.
First was the ban on playing beyond 10 pm, and then came the pandemic, but the music industry did not allow itself to be inundated with duos, one-man bands and deejays creating music by using technology and making it financially viable to perform.
“I started singing with a band called the Cascades eleven years back. Now, we perform as a duo in hotels, and sometimes even weddings, though I still prefer singing with a band,” claims Xanisha Fernandes.
“Performing with a band is different from performing in a duo because in a band five people have to be in tune to get a huge crowd on their feet. The high is better as compared to performing for a smaller audience,” confesses Xanisha.
“Technology has invaded the live music scene. It helps as long as it is not misused. Today, the music scene has shifted to restaurants where it is not economically viable to pay for an acoustic band. Couples, deejays and one-man bands are the better options,” she explains.
“My band performs at a five-star resort, but I have also started performing with my wife, and sometimes my kid joins me for shows. Organisers and restaurants are also looking to get the best and the cheapest and hence it is not always viable to perform with an acoustic band,” maintains Savio, who also has a six-piece acoustic band.
“Music cannot be changed by technology. Technology may reduce cost, but in the end, it all depends on the artist performing,” says Savio Fernandes, who leads Forefront and also performs duos with his wife.
“Bands could well perform beyond 10 pm had the courts set sound decibel levels. It is not difficult to play under the decibel levels set by the courts. Music sounds good under those levels, but, unfortunately, the courts are not advised accordingly,” opines another senior member of a band from South Goa on condition of anonymity.
“Except for music played during rave parties on the coastal belt, music can be enjoyed within controlled decibel levels and that is not noise. Music is melody, not noise,” explains the musician.
With there still being no clarity on what constitutes loud music and the market shifting from acoustic bands to duos, one-man bands and deejays, mostly in restaurants, the styles of dancing will change, and traditional forms of dancing may finish as synchronised drills.
Unless decisions are made in favour of music in an informed manner by the powers that be, any change in the situation seems a distant reality.