IndianRaga Lab comes to Chennai to train musicians

In a time when Indian classical music has begun making inroads into the digital with online music classes and live streaming of local concerts on the internet, IndianRaga, an organisation based in USA, has designed two interesting platforms that attempt to launch Indian classical musicians into the digital world. While one is the IndianRaga Fellowship which is an annual event where selected Indian classical music practitioners collaborate with each other, train under senior artists, learn accompanying aspects of music like sound production and recording and finally, produce a music video together, the other is the IndianRaga Lab which is a more inclusive concept where music labs are set up in different cities to train local talent in skills that are similar to the fellowship. While the fellowship has not been introduced in India, the IndianRaga Lab comes to Chennai this year.

“When I was learning carnatic music, I was told that it is not a stable career option for me. It is the lack of structured paths for a field like Indian classical music that made me conceptualise the fellowship and the lab. The idea is to train artists to be performers but along with that to teach them accompanying aspects like sound recording, production and social media skills,” says Sriram Emani, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, IndianRaga.

Ask him the difference between the lab and the fellowship, and he says, “For the fellowship, we are only able to take 11 fellows but we realise the level of talent is way higher than that. Therefore, we thought we could set up labs in individual cities where we could work with local talent. We have not yet brought the fellowship to India and hope to do that soon. Currently, we are planning to set up a lab in Chennai in the coming months where an IndianRaga Fellow will train local talent and mentor them the way he or she has been mentored in the Fellowship. We already have such labs running in major cities in USA,” says Emani.

Visibility

Shreehari Raghavan who participated in the fellowship last year says one of the biggest advantages of platforms like these is the visibility it offers to musicians, especially Indian classical musicians.

“A platform like the fellowship not only gives us a chance to collaborate with other artists in the field and a slot to perform but gives us a kind of visibility that Indian classical musicians need. The video I recorded last year as part of the fellowship has got over a 100 likes and people have begun to recognize me after seeing the video. IndianRaga has also created personalised profile pages for each of us. What is interesting is how they leverage technology to promote Indian classical music and its practitioners “, says Raghavan.

The intention is also to attract new audiences to classical music. “What these platforms do is equip the classical musician with 21st century skills. Today, an audience is lacking for forms like these. The question to be asked is how to spark interest. The fellowship and lab is one way to think about it,” says Akshay Anantapadmanabhan, Indian Raga Fellow,2013.

Clearly, then, there is no doubt in Emani's mind when he says, “The digital is the future. It's just a matter of how we are going to get there.”

Application

Candidates can apply to be a part of the Indian Raga Lab in Chennai by sending a video link to their performance and a short write-up on why they want to be a part of the lab. There will also be a nominal fee of Rs.2000. The deadline for applications is July 15th. Those interested can send their applications to sriram@indianraga.in.

Indian Raga Lab comes to Chennai this year