Sense of Sound: Assignment 2

The Alternative State of Mind?

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”

 Friedrich Nietzsche’s words could not have been more accurate to show the progression and transformation of music over the years. Indian and western music have gone through decades of change and varies of critiques, finally achieving a high pedestal that it deserves.

Traditional music which played a big role in the communities of north and south India having a distinguishing factor depending on it’s origin are now popularized and flourished to the entire world. Music has been an important part of the lifestyle of the common man even before the regime of the colonizers could set in.

Music to celebrate holy festivals and in darbars made the environment and state of mind of the people, engaged in the festivities, a tradition followed for hundreds of years. The communities made their own music by making different kinds of wind and string instruments using natural resources.

With the rise of technology, these traditions are omnipresent with a few changes to the process of music making. Instead of local tribes crowds have been engaged to the beats of DJ’s. Instruments have got localized and have the same look and use whether it is played in India or any other western country.

This localization of the western into the Indian has been rooted through the practice of music in Goa. Goa is known as the hub of the new aged music over the past few years. From having the Ghumott as a pride instrument amongst the Goans to having pride in music festivals amongst cultures, Goa and music have come a long way.

The Portuguese intervention helped the Goan communities of Hindu and Christian practice music apart from the traditional way and introduced the westernized style of music. From playing the Ghumott to violins and percussions, to the new genre of Trance clearly shows the revolution of music.

The development of trance flourished with the 1970’s Hippie Movement. The early ideology included the counterculture values of generations disapproving with western materialism and the Vietnam War. This movement gave rise to a different set of communities that demanded peace, were naturalists, and explored psychedelic rock, sexual revolution and had a heightened use of drugs.

Trance music also known as an alternative state of consciousness or Psytrance pervades the life of every teenager till date who is introduced to crowd appealing music.

I remember one of my first concerts was a live singer, Shakira. The lit up stage, the craziness in the crowd almost camping on the grounds in the wait for one of the most revered artists, the chanting of song lyrics during the performance was one of my best experiences.

Over the years I have seen this experience of mine almost fade. From crowds like almost family to doped up alcoholics. From chanting to simply moving to beats without having a control over your body. This is the state of people while listening to trance music in recent times.

Trance was a genre of music that was unique and a difficult art of creating beats by mixing vinyl disks. Now it has become a genre that can only be enjoyed when in the state of a high. I don’t remember the last time I visited a live music concert or where I saw the crowd really indulging themselves to the beats of the rhythmic art of trance or EDM, electronic dance music, without being intoxicated.

Of course concerts like Woodstock had a large use of drugs, but the concerts had a motive of gathering people in support of a bigger cause and making them have a good time was just a part of it. It was in these concerts where alternate genres of music were experienced and encouraged.

Where are the folk? Where are the punk rocks? Where are the live?

The dominant association of drugs with Trance/EDM has almost hidden the others to a smaller sector.

The Sunburn Festival, which took place in Mumbai a few years ago, was something I was excited about, as it was a first in this city. I excitedly got my band as soon as they were out and waited for the day of the show. As soon as I entered the arena I felt like I was in a sauna of drugs. It felt as though with every breath I took I would be high, or “in an alternative state of consciousness”.

Considering every teenager is exposed to these kinds of environments, is it right to be a part of such a genre of music? There was a time where I absolutely enjoyed and loved EDM and Trance. But now is it just an excuse for people to get high? Why do artists of only these genres come on tour to our city? Where are the others? Is there such a drastic change in the mindset of people to only enjoy music when in a different state?

“Without music, life would be a mistake”

I absolutely agree with Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote. But what I ask all the music lovers is at what cost does one go to enjoy it?


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