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Bring the 'cool' into Indian Classical music

A few top Indian musicians have found a novel way called Classicool to remind today's generation, why Indian Classical music rocks

Since the 1970s, India’s Classical musicians have tried to attract younger audiences through Fusion collaborations, blending Indian Classical elements with Western forms. While Fusion lives on till today, a section of musicians feel it is time to introduce a format where, instead of blending genres, one plays traditional Classical music in a modern soundscape.

(Left to right) Flautist Rakesh Chaurasia, drummer Gino Banks and sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee
(Left to right) Flautist Rakesh Chaurasia, drummer Gino Banks and sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee

This thinking has led to the birth of Classicool, a movement that aims to remind young Indian audiences that Classical music is cool, too. Participating in this venture are sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee, flautist Rakesh Chaurasia, drummer Gino Banks, tabla player Anubrata Chatterjee, sarod player Amaan Ali Khan and vocalist Suchismita Das. These musicians have tied up with digital media agency Qyuki.com, which will showcase their work and stream it to the right target audience.

While individual musicians have in the past tried to present shorter ragas and embellish them with modern orchestrations, a large group of well-known names is coming together in this case. According to Chatterjee, original musical content will be presented in a new context in capsules of three to five minutes. “We had observed that youngsters were shying away from Classical music because of peer pressure to be ‘cool’. Classicool is a reminder that for an Indian, Classical music is the coolest form of music.”

Classicool will, thus, retain original ragas and present them with bass and drum accompaniment. Purbayan elaborates: “As youngsters have a lesser attention span, Classical music needs to be fed in shorter doses of a few minutes in a song-like format. Also, youngsters are used to a certain bass-drum soundscape, which they think is cool. So, we will retain the sanctity of the raga, and yet sound contemporary.”

Drummer Gino Banks describes Classicool as a growing conglomerate of like-minded musicians who feel that a revival of the glory of Classical music can be achieved through slick and cool presentation. With this in mind, the musicians have already recorded new tracks and shot videos.

Says Samir Bangara, co-founder and managing director of Qyuki.com, says: “The key factor in getting ClassiCool going is having passionate artistes on board. We can’t wait to share their tracks with the audiences.” The first season, slated to begin over the next few weeks, will be available on iTunes and the videos will be on YouTube on the Classicool channel. Hopefully, it will serve its objective and entice youngsters with the beauty of Classical music.

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