Contemporary Indian music will continue to preserve its rich heritage
Salil Chowdhury

Q : Just two years after the West Bengal Govt introduced it you received this prestigious Alauddin Memorial award. The first person to receive this award was the legendary Sarod player Timir Baran. This award is an acknowledgement to musicians who have made exemplary contribution to music - how do you feel about it ?


A: If I want to list my feelings just after hearing that I will be receiving the Allaudin Memorial award, they would look like - firstly - It must be a fake news or somebody must have heard it wrong, second - surprise ! Although current literature, art, film etc may get acknowledged contemporary composers till now have been rewarded with uncomplimentary words and insults. It is really beyond belief that a composer like me who can not even play classical instruments like Sitar, Sarod, or Sarengi or can not even sing Dhrupad or Kheyal and one who has only been trying to express the current culture and the current time using lyrics, melody and different musical instruments is being recognised as a creative musician ? This is beyond imagination ! It was a beginning of new thinking and consciousness when Timir Baran was awarded for the first time. He was unique and original in introducing orchestration using Indian instruments. However, he was primarily interested in preserving the Indian classical tradition. Although he was the first composer introducing Ballet music in the Indian tradition we can not ignore the valuable contribution made by Udayshankar.It is like if Bolshoy Ballet would not

be there Tchaikovsky would never have thought of composing Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty or if Sergei Diaghilev was not there we wouldn’t have Stravinsky’s “Rites of Spring” or Petroushka. There is always a reason to create some new art form including music. The West Bengal Rajya Sangeet Academy (West Bengal Music Academy) and the West Bengal Govt recognised and acknowledged this new ballet art form by honouring Timir Baran. My third feeling is If the news of my award is true then it makes me wonder even I never had any opportunity to really analyse and evaluate my own work in contemporary music. I walked thru various disciplines of Indian music depending on what my needs were, what I was looking for and my conscious or subconscious needs. In composing mass songs I have used western choral techniques for the first time in Indian music, experimented in singing in different types of harmony, experimented in orchestration with large orchestra,experimented in new forms of songwriting and melody. I have experimented with new kinds of lyrics relating to our modern urban democratic society with bourgeois and socialist values .

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