Three Young Musicians Are Promoting India’s Folk Music And Helping Create Livelihood Options For Artists

16 Oct 2017 1:25 PM GMT
Three Young Musicians Are Promoting India’s Folk Music And Helping Create Livelihood Options For Artists
Image Credits: Anahad Foundation

Traditional folk music of India has a rich legacy. The realm of traditional folk music in India is very large and it is basically a countryside representation of the urban Indian society. When it comes to such music, there are numerous folk artists across the country who hardly get any recognition. They often go unnoticed and lack of recognition often leads to eventual dying out of the art form.

Anahad Foundation has been striving its best to help these grassroots level musicians to survive. Powerhouses in their own way, these musicians need support to move ahead. Anahad gives them the much-needed push to take it ahead and face the challenges of cultural marginalisation and urbanisation head on. Anahad aims at ensuring that no musician has to play with an empty stomach or fall prey to the vices or the misdoings of the industry.

Laying the foundation stones

When The Logical Indian spoke to the founder of Anahad, Abhinav Agrawal, he said, “Our organisation has been founded by musicians and we embarked on the journey of creating a digital platform for the several talented yet neglected indigenous artists across the country. Our main aim is to help them translate their intellectual property to tangible property so that the art form does not perish.”

Abhinav is an alumnus of the Berklee College of Music with a degree in Music Management and a specialist in landscape architecture. Apart from this, he is a trained musician in Allahabad Gharana. He said, “Since my childhood, I had a keen interest in folk music and gradually understood the bond between folk music and nature. Most of the musician pen lyrics, create melodies that intricately depend on nature, say harvest season, monsoon or even the chilly winters.”

Musicians with the two founders of Anahad, Abhinav and Shuchi (in the middle)

With urbanisation and expansion of cities, nature gradually started losing its importance and so did the artforms begin fading away. The artists gradually started taking up other odd-jobs like working as daily wage labourers. The urge to saving these dying art forms is what led him to take up a formal degree in Music Management.

Anahad was registered in 2013 and it actively began working towards uplifting these indigenous musicians from 2016. It is manned by three people, including Abhinav who form the core members of the team and a bunch of dedicated, motivated volunteers. Satyam Sangwan is an expert at the audio and other nitty-gritty of recording whereas Shuchi, a qualified lawyer looks after the copyright issues.

Conversion of intellectual property to tangible property

At a time when electronically generated rhythms are overtaking folk traditions, Abhinav Agrawal works towards preserving and recognising the evolution of classical and folk tradition in India. “Our main motive is to uplift these musicians and provide an employment scope which essentially pertains to their skill set. Learning a completely new set of skills to get employment would gradually lead to the eventual dying out of the art form,” said Abhinav.

Abhinav started visiting tribal villages across India and began learning and researching about their music. His first trip to Rajasthan, Kalakar Colony, Jaisalmer was a learning lesson where he could provide the musician opportunities, quality services to record the music and get fruits of benefits from them. This venture showed him the way how he could bridge the widening gap between the urban and rural genes.

Abhinav setting up his mobile recording studio at Jawahar Niwas, Jaisalmer.

The conversion of the intellectual property to tangible property involves a lot of research and three steps. Recording, documentation, copyrights,” he said. The Anahad team travels to different parts of the country, their pilot project being rooted out of Rajasthan. The team listens to music created by the artists, specifically focussing on any rare instruments used by the musicians.

A volunteer trip is organised every two months. A total of six tribes are taken into consideration and two music videos or documentaries are made for each tribe. They listen to the music and record their work with the help of the state-of-the-art mobile audio recording units. After recording their work, a well-researched documentary is made. After ensuring that the music is original, it would be converted into a digital format. A website is made for the concerned artist where his works are uploaded along with the details to contact the artist.

Watch their documented work, here:

Anahad’s work does not end here. After the website in place, Anahad’s team visits the area again only to give a tangible outcome of their intellectual property in a handmade box. The handmade box contains a printout of the website, CDs containing recordings of their work and a master pen drive containing detailed documentation of their music. Additionally, they also provide the needed know-how about how to operate the website and support on other related technical issues.

Recording Khamaicha player Dapu Khan with his group at Barmer, Rajasthan

This is where Anahad is a cut above than the others. We return them their cultural property which most of the others don’t. There are a lot of other tribes and musicians who have approached us to create a documentary. Prior to the volunteer trips, we ensure that the musicians are exceptionally good and that they play some rare instrument,” said Abhinav, his voice resonating with confidence.

Need of translating intellectual property to tangible property

The idea or the need of translating intellectual property to tangible property comes is needed due to the issues of copyright. Copyright is a means of protecting the artist and his creative property against misuse by any third party, essentially without his permission,” Abhinav said, upon being asked about the relevance of converting intellectual property to tangible property.

Through a tangible format of their creative property, the artists can apply for copyrights and prevent the misuse of their creative work by the third party. The recorded songs will be released worldwide and the royalties generated through selling or streaming them will help in further documentation.

The road ahead

The organisation plans to invite international producers to collaborate with tribal artists to produce one song. Anahad will be organising a music festival next year to accomplish the mission. By 2020, Anahad aims at raising the economic livelihood of 30 tribes in three underprivileged musical communities of India by 70%. They plan to work in the North-eastern states, next year, primarily with Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Upon asking about his message for the readers of The Logical Indian, he said, “We often come across folk musicians while travelling to different places. Most of us upload these videos on Facebook. It would be an act of acknowledging the efforts of the musicians if we just could add his/her name and contact details along with.”

Click here to visit their website. You can get in touch with them through their facebook page

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