I hope Indian music remains distinct: Hariprasad Chaurasia

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By Radhika Bhirani

New Delhi, Feb 7(IANS) Internationally renowned flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia feels that in the midst of the IT savvy Indian youth, overtly charmed with western culture, Indian classical music is losing its sheen and so is our tradition.

"Our culture and tradition is so rich that people from the West are deeply inspired. But sadly, our own students and citizens, instead of being proud of this richness want to be influenced by western culture. I wish more people start thinking of preserving our tradition," he told IANS.

When asked about his vision for music in India, Chaurasia said: "I hope music in India remains untouched by western influence and maintain its quality and distinctness forever."

Chaurasia, who was in town to perform for the annual 'IDEA Jalsa'-an Indian Music extravaganza, blames the increasing influence of the West, modern schooling system and parenting for the lack of reverence for Indian music among children.

"If Japanese is what you will hear in your childhood, that is all you will know. Similarly, if the kind of loud music that prevails nowadays is all that you hear, any other form of music will not soothe your ears," he said.

A proud recipient of the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, Chaurasia thinks that Indian classical music must be taught in school but an increased emphasis on books prevents students from appreciating the cultural heritage and art of our country.

He said: "Christian schools do impart training in all musical instruments, but hardly any of our schools do so. It is their responsibility to introduce Indian culture and tradition to the students and if they fail in this endeavour, students cannot be blamed."

Chaurasia added that with manifold increase in IT-related job opportunities people have started are busy accumulating money.

He said, "Parents have become money-minded. They try to push their children into a field where there will be a lot of money. Hence, children have also started thinking alike."

He is among the few musicians who have made a conscious effort to reach out and expand the audience for classical music in India and abroad.

Based on his international experiences, Chaurasia recounted: "Western people are more inclined and fascinated by Indian classical music than Indians. I feel very nice about their inquisitiveness which they satiate either by learning how to play the instruments or by buying Indian books on music."

Chaurasia is disappointed with the music talent hunt reality shows on television. "It is all about money making," he said.

Adding his comments over such shows, Chaurasia expressed: "These shows portray a bad picture of tradition. While singing Indian songs, the contestants should wear Indian clothes and treat their 'Gurus' (mentors) with due respect. Indian tradition demands the student to show respect by touching their teacher's feet before singing. But here nothing of this sort happens."

When asked which contemporary musician influences him the most, Chaurasia says he particularly likes compositions by A.R. Rahman. "Rahman is very talented and his music is very soothing. I especially liked his music in the film 'Lagaan'," he said.

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