Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I just wanna play my music…

Jonas brothers were speaking for my entire generation and the generation before us when they sang-

“Turn on that radio
As loud as it can
Wanna dance until my feet can't feel the ground (feel the ground)
Music's in my soul
I can hear it everyday, everynight
It's the one thing on my mind
Music's got control
And I'm never letting go, no no
I just want to play my music”
                                 (From Disney’s Camp Rock)

Oh yes, we just want to play our music, our way. Every morning while coming to office, I and my chauffeur go through a silent tussle. The point of difference is in the choice of music to be played in the car. I prefer old songs and using my remote from the backseat change the channel to AIR-FM Gold playing songs of 1960s. The moment car stops for a red signal, Ashish comes back to Radio Mirchi or some such noisy FM channel playing current numbers. After almost a month of this war – we declared truce. So on Monday-Wednesday and Friday we play my choice and on others, I let Ashish have his way. Interestingly on one of ‘my days’ I found him immediately taking out his mobile and put ear plugs to listen his channels privately. It was a revolt. But I have to admit - a smart one. Next day I followed suit with my Mp3 player and listened to my ragas while he enjoyed his Punjabi pop. So now, travelling in the same car, every morning we listen to two different types of music. After all, music is very personal in our times. We like to carry it with us in gadgets of various shapes and capacities. But look around, how easy it has become to carry your music. It is not unusual to find parents entertaining their babies in trains or public places by playing portable DVD players. Or joggers running with iPod or office workers playing mp3 in the desktops or fliers tuning to favorite music in-flight. Times have changed indeed.
Most people have their specific likes and dislikes when it comes to genres of music, musicians and way they like to listen. But till very recently, music was not portable. After our wedding, when my hubby called on my grand uncle, he was told that the eldest member of my family had visited Kolkata sometime back( actually in late 1930s) .My hubby politely asked if he visited the Howrah bridge and the Victoria Memorial ? With a mischievous grin my grand uncle replied that he was more interested in visiting Kananbala’s house in those days. Well, the love and craze for musicians is nothing new. We all have music icons of our generation. In my grandparents generation the only way to listen to music was live performance. People used to travel for days to listen to their favorite artists. Then came gramophone and brought the music close to its fans. It took some time to get popular and it was not so easy to find records. I remember we had a gramophone in my childhood. It was used to play records on birthdays and special occasions.I still remember how we used to dance on those old tunes. It was fun when long playing records came to the scene. We had such craze of listening to film music on them. Of course radio was our staple. Tuning different radio stations for different types of music was like following a class schedule. In school days transistor was my all day companion. Discovering a new radio station was like a favorite game. I will not repeat much about my craze for radio listening as I have already written on that here.
But in our teenage, the way people listened to music changed dramatically with the coming of tape recorders. Two in ones- as they were called popularly. A must have in a hostel room. An inevitable companion in a showroom. The tape recorder made it very easy to record and play voices from our dear and near ones. It might sound retard to today’s generation but it was thrilling to hear your own voice coming from the tape. Earlier one has to go to a recording studio to get a record made. I believe this was the time when music turned personal. We were no longer waiting in front of radio for the program to play our favorite song. We could play and replay it any number of times. Still tape recorders were bulky and not very easy to carry and cassettes were neither cheap nor durable. First factor was changed forever in India by the advent of Gulshan Kumar’s T Series – suddenly all cassettes were 29 rupees (as against Rs 120 or more of HMV), some were priced even lower at 17 rupees – it was almost liberation for young music aficionados. Then came walkman- how dramatic it sounded that you can walk and work while listening to music. An entire generation was plugged to it immediately. This was the much coveted gift which my elder cousins aspired for . It was very cool to have one. Parents, of course, thought it is incarnation of devil to ruin their children’s ears and mind. But to be fair, their parents had similar views about gramophone.

In front of my eyes the audio tapes turned into all powerful CDs- sleek and compact with immense storage capacity . First time I saw them at AIR Lucknow- I thought what can be better and sleeker than this. I found the answer soon enough. In a matter of years DVDs revolutionized the quality of music. Then technology took another step forward and came digital music. First time I heard music on computer (on winamp) I thought- this is it. In a matter of days- most of my CD collection was copied on the computer and I learnt a new lingo of music listening. Winamp, Real player, .wav format and of course .mp3 . It was a matter of minutes to find your favorite song, copy it online and play it on computer. Napster made us realize the power on Internet in very tangible, very musical way. Till the famous lawsuit made it illegal, it opened the floodgate of music for everybody across the globe. But by then, there were thousands of sites providing access to music online. It was around 2000 that I learnt all this and in just 10 years – this music is everywhere. Now, you don’t even need a computer to play it on. A small mp3 player would do for many thousand songs. Now every day I share music, download it, edit it and record it. Play it at my own convenience, at my own choice.
Of course, there is a school of thought that says that the magic is lost in this control freak environment of music listening. You no longer wait for your favorite number, no longer send request to play it- its so much in your hands that the craving for those sounds has gone forever. If you ask my mother, the sense of listening it together is also lost in this personalized way of listening to music. May be there is some truth in that. A CD of shehnai playing at a wedding can hardly replace the charm of live performance. Similarly the sound and energy one feels in a classical performance on stage can never be felt through a mp3 player. But then, convenience has a cost attached with it.

As I said earlier, music is very personal. I have people around me who listen to almost anything from Bollywood numbers to Buddhist chants on iPod, on mp3 players and many such gadgets. This morning I found that even my chauffeur has his playlists made. Come to talk of it, last year when I bought my first car, I made it clear that in my car my music playsI see people engrossed in their music while travelling by crowded buses, metro or even walking on the streets, almost every day. If you ask me, though live music will remain charming in its own way, it’s great fun and great convenience to have your music your way at your command .ok you can’t have the charm of live classical performance in other formats but come to think of it - how many more can today listen to a great musician - who 200 years back would have remained limited to only a single raj darbar. How much more music is available to the yearning ears crossing boundaries of money, geography and politics. Really, as the taglines goes, there is actually so much to hear .

So here I end this post and go back to my music :

“Don't you feel it growin', day by day
People gettin' ready for the news
Some are happy, some are sad
Oh, we got to let the music
What the people need is a way to make 'em smile
It ain't so hard to do if you know how
Gotta get a message-
Oh, oh, listen to the music
Oh, oh, listen to the
Oh, oh, listen to the music baby
All the time .”

(from Listen to the music by-Doobie Brothers)

No comments: