Great director Jahnu Baruah once said in an interview- “The biggest fault of Indians is that they take visual and audio art as a medium of entertainment and nothing else.” Music was once a way of expressing your deepest thoughts, principles, beliefs and your take on the socio cultural environment of your surroundings. Music over the years has changed drastically, lame lyrics, monotonous techno beat and a mockery of rap culture is all one needs to grab the market and earn money. Another great musician, Kabir Suman once said, “a musician’s work is not to follow the market, but to give which is required to keep true art alive.”
If you just take the case of the music scenario in Assam, it is at a level where the content is superficial. There are two aspects here- one, the listeners must be musically educated, and secondly, if there are true artists like Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, then their music will automatically educate the listeners. The problem is that there are not many artists, but businessmen. Song writing is not something which just happens in one single day. It is not just about rhyming the words and putting them in place. It takes immense practice with proper evaluation of one’s beliefs, perceptions and perspectives. Then the composition has to go with the words and how and in which feel the words have been written. A certain metre of count is hidden in every written song and only a musician with the correct knowledge and experience can get hold of that metre of beat or ‘matra’.
For example, I wrote and performed this in a rock fest- “Will anyone ever think of being my friend? Will I be bleeding in tears till the end? Will there be naked poets walking the dead street? Will you be there before I decay, will you come to meet ….? Will the glory of war end? Will the agony of thousands burry in the sand? Will my tortured heart ever get up and stand? Will you lend me your hand, will you lend me your hand….? Will Dylan’s clown stop crying in the valley? Will the king’s verdict and people’s voice tally? Will all the religions fade away one day? Will humanity again make its way …?” If anyone just reads this song then anyone will find a resemblance with today’s time that we are going through.
A song is successful when it grabs an image of the time and happenings around, it acts as a time traveller.
All these factors are to be studied by all the people who want to make music, it is not about money or fame but about setting a soul free through your music. To understand all these factors it requires years of learning, art is not and never was that easy. A musician should have a global mind; only then will his music speak globally. And the listeners should also understand that whatever you like is not necessarily good, and what you do not like is not necessarily bad. Learn to judge music on the basis of what the song is saying, if a song is saying drink, party all night, police and law doesn’t matter and its speaking about how a girl should undress herself, you’re surely listening to crap and that is what you will pass on to your children. Judge and listen, it will help good art and music will survive and will also keep the values of a good society alive.
For instance, north east is considered the hub of rock n roll, but me being a rock musician, can say it is tough today to survive doing rock n roll in north east. People are turning their back on this revolutionary form of music. Live shows are conducted but payment is minimal. Local bands barely get any support, rather the organizers call bands from outside the region.
If we take independent music as a whole, it is almost dead, and even if someone is pursuing it, you will only find commercial lyrics. Rock n roll was true to the core. Independent musicians do not know about Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Pete Seeger, etc but are instead highly influenced by the Bollywood music scenario which is again lame.
How many independent musicians or regular performing bands do you find in north east talking about rapes, poverty, politics, religious conflicts or something which can force your mind to think after you go home? None.
The spirit of rock n roll is being killed. Long hair, guitars, drums and tattoos don’t make you a rock musician, your approach and mindset does.
Few people like Sir Lou Majaw is keeping the spirit of rock n roll alive. All these factors can develop once the musicians themselves are first well educated and learned, or else rock will die a natural death.