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(Published in "Studio Systems" Nov-Dec 2001 issue)

My recent spate of Classic Rock shows in Bombay and Pune has brought into focus for me the great importance that music plays in the lives of people. Hundreds of people meet me after the shows to talk about the joy that the music gives them and their effusive praise humbles me as it makes me even more aware that I am just the custodian of some of the greatest music that has been composed in this century. It is my intense devotion to this music that has made me internalize it so that I can present it to the fans as an interpretation. The joy that this gives me far exceeds any other gains that I may accrue as a result.

Of course, this does not mean that I will not be doing original music anymore. My re- discovery of the Classics has, in fact, made me even more aware of the traditions of music and the exciting future that it promises. My study of Indian folk music and Indian Classical vocal training continues unabated and I see interesting musical possibilities, which I can hope to realize in the near future. The presently 'in vogue' World Music segment often deals with mixing superficial elements of different genres from different cultures and countries. Just the addition of a tabla very often signals the arrival of 'Fusion Music' and unfortunately, does not really lead to any new areas of enlightenment. Music will have to meet at philosophical levels to break new grounds. Thankfully serious 'fusion' artistes have made considerable progress towards this and the recent efforts of a friend to get Mynta, the Swedish/Indian fusion group to perform in India, exposed me once again to the exciting prospects of such a venture.


This fusion band from Sweden features two Indian musicians, Fazal Qureshi the brother of Zakir Hussain and son of the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha along with Shankar Mahadevan, the South-Indian classical vocalist and now Hindi film composer. They describe their music as a fusion of Nordic ice and Indian spice. Mynta brings you a colorful mix of Indian vocal, African and Latin American rhythms, Arabic sounds, Swedish Folk music and Cuban violin, together with Indian traditional instruments as tabla, santoor, kanjira, ghatam and veena.
Founded in 1979, the group has created their own genre of music, while preserving the integrity and traditions of their root sounds. The Swedish-Indian fusionists define world music, by extracting the organic elements that runs through the vein of centuries-old musical histories. Mynta has performed at Jazz festivals throughout the world and their music has won them many fans. Here's hoping that their Indian fans get to hear them live in the near future.

Pune Jazz Club

My interest in Jazz and World music brought me to the monthly meeting of the Pune Jazz club. Founded by Ahmed Ibrahim and run very efficiently in association with his jazz loving wife, monthly Jazz listening sessions are held at the beautiful Max Mueller Bhavan where Jazz a ficionados play and discuss their rare Jazz CD collections for the benefit of the Jazz starved music lover. This was not just an elitist crowd pretending to be in New York because their devotion to the music was real as could be ascertained through their well-informed views.
Interestingly, Ibrahim discussed the influence of Jazz on the genius of Indian Film music, Kishore Kumar with audio demonstrations. The swing era was indeed a fun period for the Jazz lover and a great time was had by all as the origins of 'Ina Mina Dika' were explored. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the delightful music, the knowledgeable crowd and exquisite surroundings made this outing a truly memorable one for me. Later, the Beer and Brunch at the Jazz Garden was icing on cake with live Jazz by talented Pune musicians playing in the lazy Sunday afternoon. Now, if only one did not have to return to the real world!


World Space

The launch of this product in India is indeed a long overdue audio entertainment alternative to the plethora of television channels that jam the Indian skies. For the serious music lovers of this country, there is a paucity of avenues to quench his thirst for the enormous musical resources available in India and abroad. Sure, the existing TV and Radio music channels pump Hindi Film music and Western Dance and Pop music round the clock. But they're millions of Indians out there that would like to listen and see something else!
Private FM channels still continue to be silent for years after they were unceremoniously thrown out and the entire bungling of FM in India continues unabated with not a protest from those involved. Net radio is a great alternative but the government with its out- dated restrictive policies and huge telephone costs have sadly made this a non-starter. World Space therefore offers the perfect low cost solution to lovers of serious music lovers.
For the uninitiated, World Space is a US based direct Audio and Multimedia broadcast system via satellite. The audio equivalent of the hundreds of TV channels we receive on our TV sets, the purchase of a World Space receiver is mandatory and is quite cost effective considering the number of free to air Audio channels available. There is a fair bit of Indian language programming and a general sampling of the channels show a high degree of variety and excellence. For Jazz lovers, this is an absolute goldmine as the programming is truly superb! Importantly, the sound is near CD quality and free from the crackle and hiss of normal radio. World Space seems to be catching on in India, at least among my friends, as a great non-intrusive form of entertainment in houses and offices. So what are you waiting for? Go grab one, before the government decides to clamp a new 'service' tax on it and makes another good idea bite the dust!


Western Outdoor

One of the leading media production studios of the country recently celebrated 30 glorious years in the advertising and entertainment industry of India. Western Outdoor Media Technologies celebrated this milestone with the unveiling of a spanking new audio and video facility. Mumbai can now boast of another world-class service to this ever-increasing industry, which is constantly striving for excellence. Spread over 6000 sq feet, the Mahalaxmi studios has a Digital Audio and Special Effects Studio with the Sony DMXr100 56 channel digital mixer and state of the art editing suites with the Quantel digital special effects editing system. It also features 3D Computer graphic workstations running Alias Wavefront and Maya besides Flint and Flame for 2D and 3D animation. The comforts of the client have also been well looked after. They have their very own in-house coffee shop and an outdoor garden section, where you could even play a game of darts!
Jiten Solanki, the sound engineer, was kind enough to guide me through the various features of the new Audio studio and played me some of the great work that they have been doing there recently. Probably the only audio studio to have the Sony DigiBetacam available to them at all times, the studio also features DAR's Storm 24 tracks HD workstation and active Genelec Monitoring speakers with Lexicon and Eventide outboard processors. Western Outdoor has always stood for the highest technical competence, both in the choice of the equipment and the people who man it. This is yet another feather in the cap of this fine company. Truly a wonderful one-stop postproduction facility for the discerning media professional!

AES Activities

The Adlabs IMAX Theatre visit by the AES members along with the members of the Indian Documentary Film Producers' Association was an unqualified success. This is the biggest IMAX dome in the world and Manmohan Shetty, Managing Director of ADLABS should be congratulated for bringing this incredible technology to the shores of India. Imax is far more exciting than traditional theatres as the image size is 10 times larger than the regular 35 mm & 3 times larger than standard 70 mm
The six track, 12000 watts sound system plays a major role in the enjoyment of this spectacular cinematic experience and Jal Mistry, the man responsible for the installation of this system was on hand to explain to the members the various issues involved. Govind Nihalani, the leading filmmaker and cameraman, also enlightened us about the production techniques involved in this medium. It was indeed a proud moment for us Indians to be in a facility in India that can be ranked as among the finest of its kind in the world.
January sees the AES members go on a field trip to Gujarat to visit the Soor Mandir studios, Anand. The state of the art studio, designed by Daman Sood, ex-chairman AES India, has been located in beautiful rustic surroundings and provides accommodation facilities as a part of its services. Mr. Sood will be accompanying the members to explain the various highlights and features of this high tech Audio facility. It looks like it's going to be the start of another enlightening year for AES India Section members!
Keep listening,

Nandu Bhende

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