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Tracking tastes

India is enthusiastic about developments in music, says Leah Zakss, Music Projects Manager of British Council, who was in Bangalore recently.

WHAT SOUND does Bangalore groove to? What music do we move to? Bach? The Blues? Boy bands? Questions and more questions are what Ms. Leah Zakss had to ask at a "free wheeling session of music listeners and providers" organised by the British Council in Bangalore. Ms. Zakss is the music projects manager of British Council, London, and had visited the City to get answers to these questions and review policies accordingly.

The meeting opened our eyes to the varied music tastes of Bangalore audiences, disproving the popular notion that this is the age of ailing music tastes. Jazz and blues, rock and reggae, classical music from both sides of the world, the meeting proved that Bangalore is a city with great potential for music lovers.

All fingers pointed to the Radio and TV programming, blaming them for creating this wrong impression. The average Bangalorean, who has been exposed to plenty of Western music in the past, is now subjected to Indipop and film songs throughout the day. Asks Kaberi, a young music enthusiast: "If we don't have the opportunity to hear different kinds of music, from where do we derive our tastes?" And rightly so, Bangalore is a city that appreciates good music from any genre.

Ms. Leah Zakss says that while in England too, popular music dominates the media, and accessibility of other sounds helps overcoming this problem. "Also," she says, "Different kinds of music are merging together in the UK, forming a huge music fusion of sorts and creating a similar effect on its listeners. Now, club music is played like chamber music and pop sounds like rock. So, there really is no `ailing of the music industry', just a sort of revolution."

The British Council is trying to change the existing scenario by bringing more British Music to India, but there again they will have to face practical problems such as programs being made economically viable. "We are trying to find the right balance between what will draw crowds and how to introduce new sounds." This would probably result in workshops and small concerts and recitals, but as George Kurian, a musician points out, "We don't need Western musicians to do lecture-workshops, we need communicative sessions where there could be a confluence of the different styles of music."

In fact, most people were more enthusiastic about Western musicians coming to the City as compared to musicians of Indian descent such as Nitin Soni who are quite popular in England.

Ms. Leah Zakss claimed that India is far better than many other Asian and African countries, where concerts are often limited to imitations of Western musicians. The piracy issue too, seems far worse in other Southeast Asian countries where the music industry has been taken over by piracy.

With music festivals and concerts, organisations promoting young artists, local bands, organisations like the British council, music lovers, and artistes working steadily to change the face of music appreciation in our city, it looks like Bangalore is well on its way to become the music capital of India.


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