The CSMVS museum bus for children enters second leg, showcasing the journey of sound and music through Indian classical instruments
The outdoor panels display the ancient musical bow, dutar and tanpura. Pics/Atul Kamble
Classical music can be thought of in many ways: soothing, a background score or simply inaccessible. That's why stepping into the new Citi-CSMVS Museum on Wheels bus docked at the city museum's premises is necessary. It forces you to erase all preconceived notions, and to start from scratch — the definition of sound and musical sound. The exhibition housed inside the vehicle is titled In Tune: The Journey from Sound to Music and has been in the works for seven months. The MoW project is headed by Vaidehi Savnal and Joyoti Roy. Primarily aimed towards schoolchildren, it will travel to schools in the state post the inauguration today, which features maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain.
Nandita Krishna, education facilitator at CSMVS, who is helming the project, takes us through all 15 exhibits, developed in collaboration with the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and well-curated with bite-sized information that kids can easily digest. "I'm not a musician and had to do lots of research. It entailed consulting Dr Suvarnalata Rao at the NCPA as well as scanning JSTOR articles and going on field trips. It had to go through a lot of drafts and the challenge was to not make it complicated for children," she maintains.
Nandita Krishna demonstrating the concept of timbre via a xylophone
At its very entrance, the bus sports a text panel with the title 'No Honking Please!' It's purpose is to differentiate noise from musical sound. This learning journey begins with two stunning dioramas. The first one showcases three types of sounds: geophonic, biophonic and anthrophonic. The external reproduction of these sounds can be observed in the second installation that depicts the earliest instruments via a replica rendered through a cave painting. You can spot a copy of a flute based on one excavated from Hohle Fels in Germany.
The third exhibit is perhaps the most important: a diorama that shows how sound moves from the outer, middle and inner ear, before travelling to the auditory cortex in the brain. Press a button, and these areas light up in succession. It's also when you realise how much information can be absorbed in a microcosm of a bus. The further you go, you learn about crucial concepts such as frequency, amplitude and resonance through a miniature sitar or timbre through the xylophone. Then MoW narrows down to specifics like percussion, string and wind instruments.
A diorama of how sound waves travel through your ear and to the brain
They've also got four interactive exhibits devised by Bangalore's Indian Music Experience. You can choose to play a game of tala on a tablet that challenges you to maintain rhythm on a tabla or mridangam — it's addictive, even for adults. Another device helps you find your shruti: sing a note and it will tell you what note it is as well play Hindustani and Carnatic songs in that shruti. Krishna concludes our visit with an apt comparison — "It feels like dipping your toe into the pool and realising that there's an ocean in front of you. We're introducing you to that ocean."
We try the interactive installations on the components of music, devised by Bangalore's Indian Music Experience
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Membranophones include the tabla and the mridangam
A miniature sitar
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