The Transformation of Indian Music with Technology

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Indian music is a mix of both traditional and contemporary. While the evolution of music is good and bringing India onto the forefront of the music scenario, it is essential that the essence of Hindustani classical music and lok geet (folk music) is not suppressed.

Indian music has its roots in ragas. Today, with bass and blast beats, music is transforming. With the earliest references in Samaveda, a raga called Kharaharapriya has all the seven notes: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni. It was only in the 11th century that these notes were incorporated into Western music by an Italian theorist Guido da Arezzo in the form of do re mi fa sol la ti. Eventually, modern-day Hindustani and Carnatic music were born from it.

Till digital mastering of music evolved, Indian recording studios had singers and musicians recording live in the same premises. Thus, even if a minor mistake was made by the singer or the musician, the entire song had to be re-recorded. Fast forward to today, rearranging music is simply possible with digital audio workstations. Sampling sounds and using them wherever required can also be done easily.

Another transformation that the music industry has witnessed is the way music is being incorporated into the movies. Considering a Bollywood classic, Mughal-E-Azam, the songs were all recorded with instruments including Sarangi, Mridang, Tabla, and the courtesan’s Ghungroos, specifically for the movie.

Currently, songs are pre-recorded in the music director’s studio, with the help of a team of engineers and producers. The songs are then used in the movies by the directors according to their need.

Unfortunately, technology has also given rise to some less talented musicians, who use auto tune when recording songs. It has led to new predicament; to chaff the good from the bad. Programmed drums and MIDI sequences are sadly, ruling the music arena.

While technology has bestowed upon us avenues to record music efficiently, it is unclear where the future of music will take us. Will it be auto tune ruling the industry or will we understand the true meaning of music and respect the art?

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