I’ve been exchanging e-mail with Raghu
Tambe about Indian classical music. Among other
things, I asked him what the status of this great art might be in w:st="on"> class=GramE>today,
class=GramE>today,and here’s the thoughtful, informative, and encouraging
answer he sent (posted with his permission):
The status of and outlook for
Indian classical music is, in my experience, pretty good despite a number of
our senior performers thinking otherwise and predicting its down fall. I
suspect their fears arise from the usual problem of the older generation
predicting the down fall in standards of the newer generations in most if not
all fields. In addition to this, their above perception may be due to a big
change in the ways classical music is taught/learnt these day. The traditional
and admittedly the well proven system of "Gurukul"
for the "Guru-Shishya Parampara"
( the tradition of desciples
living in the homes of and with their Gurus) to teach/learn Classical music is
virtually unsustainable today. In the modern pace and style of life, specially
in Urban India where, for commercial reasons most if not all Gurus live, it is
hardly possible. Further, the modern would-be performer is better educated,
faster on the up-take and less mindful of the traditional Gharana
(literally, Clan) purity by which great store is put by the Classicists.
Having said that,
there is a large crop of young singers and instrumentalists who are indeed very
serious, practise for a large number of hours daily
as required and are indeed blossoming out into first class artists.
Admittedly, I am not qualified to be a competent judge of the finest points of
classical music performance, but do feel that there is no real danger to this
"Ganga" of w:st="on">India
There is no dearth of young ones
learning music and dance because it is a common practise
in educated families to send their children-specially girls- to special
coaching classes for this. Of course most of them do not take this up as their
professions despite attaining fairly advanced levels.
Besides, it is not necessary to
"know" anything about Classical music to enjoy it. As an example, I
started going to musical concerts with m u mother back in the mid-1930s since I
was 5/6 years old and have been enjoying it passionately. ( I
am now almost 76). I have no training at all but am ever in its thrall.
Further, there is very little music that is “Indian” which can be said to have
no roots in Classical music. Hence the transition of a listener from one who
likes film, or light, or light classical
style='mso-spacerun:yes'>to Classical music is not a very big
step for most people. These aspects are to my lay mind also supportive of my
view above. In
Classical music is considered "high brow", not old fashioned. You may
find it interesting that the Indian nouveau riche adopt Classical music as a
symbol of their arrival. (Perhaps same in your neck of the
I’m not sure that happens in the west — not sure that the
nouveau riche adopt classical music to show they’ve
arrived. That used to happen, a generation or more ago, but probably not now.
But I’m glad to know that Indian classical music is healthy. Thanks to
class=SpellE>Raghu, I’ve begun to learn about Indian vocal music. He
correctly guessed that my knowledge was limited to instrumentalists like Ravi Shankar
who’ve made a reputation in the west, and gently urged me to explore more