'Fusion in classical music is good'
Santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma feels blending modern elements with traditional music is good experimentation.art and culture Updated: Jun 30, 2007 14:28 IST
Fusing modern elements with India's traditional music is good experimentation, says Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, one of India's most well-known classical instrumentalists who not only popularised the santoor but also enjoyed a successful stint as a Bollywood film composer.
"Many different things are happening in the classical music field today and one such thing is fusion," said Sharma, who is held as being the single most important factor behind the popularity of the santoor.
"I feel fusion is good because it is definitely taking classical music to the world stage. It is being appreciated globally," Sharma told IANS, adding that the experimentation was also being appreciated globally.
Many of India's classical musicians are now experimenting with digital mixing and incorporating Western instruments to tap into new audiences.
"Fusion is not tampering with classical music, it is just an experiment," Sharma clarified.
"We all remember what Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan did with electronic music. He became such a craze," said the globally popular musician whose mastery over the instrument has made his name synonymous with the santoor.
Sharma, who teamed up with flautist Hari Prasad Chaurasia to form the enormously successful composer duo Shiv-Hari to give music in films like Silsila and Lamhe, has passed on the baton to his son Rahul who is also a well-known santoor player.
"Classical music needs a lot of dedication to master it; it is something which no one can learn in quick time," Sharma said.
"Its appeal is to the people who know it because it is difficult to understand the ragas. It is surely not meant for everyone to practise. But its melody can surely be appreciated by one and all."
India's classical music, which dates back to the oldest Hindu scriptures, have been practised for thousands of years by gharanas or music schools that specialise in a particular style.
But classical traditions have always had limited appeal due to their complexity and need for rigorous practice.
People like Shivkumar Sharma are changing all that.