Get ready for a musical experience

IME’s Instrument Gallery, with collections from renowned musicians and music connoisseurs, will soon open its doors to the public

There are over 300 instruments native to India and more than 120 regional forms of music. Such nuggets of information will soon be available on touchscreen and computer-based interactive installations in the three-storey Centre for Indian Music Experience (IME). Spread over 50,000 sq. ft, the IME is expected to be ready later this year. It is located on a 2-acre property within the Brigade Millennium Enclave in J.P. Nagar.

“The Instrument Gallery will house items donated by renowned musicians and their families, and connoisseurs. Their generosity is touching,” said Manasi Prasad, project director, IME. The gallery will house 250 instruments, of which 108 will be part of the permanent collection.

Music as a shared experience

In September 2014, the family of Ustad Bismillah Khan donated one of his shehnais to the IME. Although giving away the family’s treasure was a heart-breaking moment, the maestro’s son Zamin Hussain is happy that it would become a “national treasure” once it becomes a part of the ‘Bharath Ratna Memorabilia’.

Later, the IME received Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s silver paan box.

“Vocalist Sudha Raghunathan donated one of her antique tamburas, as she felt IME will help people re-discover Indian genres of music, both traditional and contemporary,” said Suma Sudhindra, director, Outreach, IME.

Chitraveena Ravikiran donated one of his gottuvadhyas so that people can see, feel and understand the instrument. “I have seen my father making this instrument at home. The Instrument Gallery will also be a tribute to the makers. Gottuvadhya’s history goes back a few centuries. It is mentioned in Bharata’s Natya Shastra by the name Maha Nataka Veena with 21 strings,” said Mr. Ravikiran.

Other valuable contributions include Bickram Ghosh’s tabla, B. Rajashekar’s three morsings, B.R. Ravikumar’s ghata and Palanivel’s nagaswara.

Memorabilia from Carnatic vocalist late M.S. Subbulakshmi, sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and singer Lata Mangeshkar are expected to reach IME soon.

“String instruments from Rajasthan, percussion pieces from Kerala and veena varieties such as the Bobbili, Tanjore and Mysore are part of our collection,” said Ms. Sudhindra, who has donated her Mysore veena. Non-Indian instruments, such as the clarinet, saxophone and mandolin, which are now integral to Indian music, will also be showcased.

The rare collection

“We have 28 instruments in the classical section and nearly 80 in the folk section of our permanent exhibits,” said Ms. Sudhindra.

Rare instruments include the Nagphani (wind instrument) from Bengal used in Garhwali folk; Gopi that preceded the Ektara used in Baul music; the deep resonators from Rajasthan Tarpi and Bankia; the stringed tribal folk Jogiya Sarangi; the stringed Surinda from Rajasthan; Timila from Kerala; Hudak from Bengal; Taus and the Mayur veena from Uttar Pradesh.

Bengaluru’s percussionist Anoor Anantha Krishna Sharma has donated four instruments, including a Thavil, Manipur Pung and a mridanga.

Vikram Sampath, who has written books on music, said, “IME will definitely enter the tourism map of Bengaluru. Foreigners will be surprised to see the different existing forms of music outside of Bollywood.”

First interactive music museum

The IME is touted as South Asia’s first interactive music museum. It is a ₹50-crore initiative designed by Gallagher & Associates who also worked on the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, and are familiar with the Indian aural culture.

IME will have 11 thematic spaces, including a sound garden, learning spaces, tribute to classical schools (some of them demonstrated by musicians Ranjani, Gayathri, and Ravikiran), folk traditions and several computer-based installations that allow visitors to experience the process of making music, including recording.

The contemporary section will have an autorickshaw in which people can sit and listen to individual bands. Melting Pot will showcase an amalgam of Indian and foreign melodies on touchscreen, including military bands patronised by the maharajas, which had a great influence on the army; shaadi (marriage) and jazz bands.

“The entire effort transcends the idea of IME being a mere artefact-driven museum,” said Ms. Prasad.

Listening to lore

Visitors are likely to enjoy the fascinating stories that accompany rare instruments. Take the case of the Surbahar whose predecessor is the Rudra Veena. Maestro Omrao Khan Beenkar is believed to have designed the Surbahar after being denied music lessons on the Rudra Veena. Over time, the Rudra Veena started to see a decline, as Dhrupad is said to have been easier on the Surbahar.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 4:43:29 PM |

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