Over a 100 drummers bring the city’s commuters to a standstill as they ring in World Music Day in true rhythmic style

If you commute to work everyday through Brigade Road, just like I do, then your usual sights and sounds are the traffic snarls and the dozens of early shoppers and college students ambling along the zebra crossings and sidewalks. Saturday, however, saw a different scenario. Instead of the hefty traffic cops and angry pedestrians that usually trawl the roads creating chaos, travellers were greeted by the steady and mellow sounds of a 100 drums beating away in the morning.

That’s how I started my experience with World Music Day this year. Organised in front of the Soundglitz music store on Brigade Road, around 100 musicians from all walks of life had gathered to create a musical awareness of their own, on one of the most important festivals celebrated across the world - the Fête de la Musique, also known as World Music Day.

Commemorated on June 21, the onset of the summer solstice, this tiny group of music lovers easily drew in a steady crowd of curious onlookers, me included, to the spot at around 10.30 a.m. Echoing above the hubbub of vehicle horns and noisy pedestrians, the drums drowned out everything else and had everyone stopping their vehicles to give a listen to their music.

While any other day and we would be annoyed with the honking of passing vehicles, their incessant horns seemed to add to the musical marvel that was been created on the street side, syncing in time to the intense rhythms of the percussionists.

Rishikesh, the youngest percussionist at the event, beamed at the growing audience they were attracting all through the hour-long impromptu gig. So I made my way to the little chap between the show and asked him how he felt. The standard four student held his djumbe close and tells me it was one of his best shows ever. “I’ve played in some programmes before, but since today is World Music Day, it was even more awesome. I’m excited that I got to play with so many drummers, that too on the street,” he grinned happily.

Siddharth Patwa, director of Soundglitz, says a group of percussionists, who frequent the store, approached him with the idea of celebrating the event. “Though the festival is celebrated across the world, it hasn’t really flourished in India, so we as musicians felt the onus is on us to make people aware of this global phenomenon by coming together and sharing this common platform. We didn’t want this gig to be structured and organised for only professional musicians. This event was for everyone, even the amateur musician to be part of so we involved music lovers and musicians to promote music. Though the scene has been growing steadily in Bangalore, we felt doing it out in the open will garner further impetus to the cause. We wanted Brigade Road to experience a musical event that has never happened like this before. We even provided drums to people who had come to attend — all in the spirit of good music.”

While it was drum frenzy from the start, the free jam session also had guitarists, singers, harmonica players and dancers adding to the funfair. The beats grew with intensity and soon, the crowd pitched in and danced in time with the rousing tempo of drums, undeterred by the steadily growing midday heat. Some impromptu Kannada tributes were also raised with a couple of songs by artistes, giving a more colloquial vibe to the gig. But all thorough, the infectious beating of drums easily kept the crowd milling and the performers pushing themselves to more high-octane passionate playing.

Keywords: World Music Day