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Thursday, January 20, 2022

The popular strum

Ten-year-old Saurabh's summer vacations were just round the corner. His parents were keen on him joining a productive class,so that he wouldn't wile away his time.

Written by Kartikeya Ramanathan |
July 2, 2010 2:50:00 am

Ten-year-old Saurabh’s summer vacations were just round the corner. His parents were keen on him joining a productive class,so that he wouldn’t wile away his time. Being music lovers,they naturally decided to enroll him for music lessons. But they zeroed in on guitar classes instead of any Indian classical instrument. His mother reasons,“The guitar is a modern instrument,and used extensively in India and abroad. So,it was an easy decision.”

The Western culture has permeated our country,leading to a curious blend of Indian and Western ways. Two main areas where this integration is most visible are clothes and music. Everyone knows how the jeans have scored over the pyjamas and dhotis,and just as apparent is how Metallica and Pink Floyd have replaced the classical gurus,who our fathers follow reverently to this day.

“We opened our store in 2007,and in the three years that we’ve been in business,the acoustic guitars have proved to be the most popular musical instrument,” says Sameer Gadgil,store manager of Furtado’s at ABC Farms,Koregaon Park. “Western instruments are,as a rule,more popular than their Indian counterparts,but even among western instruments,the guitar segment sells the best.”

The guitar has taken Pune’s kids by storm. If one knows how to play the guitar,he or she is automatically considered to be ‘cool’. Jay Anand Tripathi,a media professional,says,“An acoustic guitar is light and easy to learn as opposed to most Indian instruments,which require a great deal of time for one to achieve mastery over. The maintenance of the guitar is also easy,and replacement quite cheap.”

Jaswinder Singh,an IT professional,agrees with Tripathi. “In today’s fast paced world,one simply doesn’t have the time to learn how to play Indian instruments. Thus the guitar,along with the keyboard,scores every time.”

Before potential critics point out the similarities between the harmonium and the keyboards,let’s make the picture clearer – the harmonium is a Western instrument,and was in fact first invented in Paris,and later imported to India. However,it has been so heavily absorbed into the Indian culture that today it is a part of it. And with the soaring popularity of the guitar,it seems to be going down the same path.

“The beauty of the guitar is that it can be used in Indian classical as well as Western music,” says A Gokhale,a music teacher. “The guitar is increasingly being used in Indian classical as a substitute for the heavier,more cumbersome sitar. Then,of course,there is the phenomenon of fusion music that has caught on so well with the masses. The best part of the guitar is that it even caters to filmy music,and has thus captured the hearts of the masses. Today,all romantic and ‘cool’ guys are associated with the guitar,be it Lucky Ali or Elvis Presley,” she says.

However,Gurpreet S Rana of the Musical Mart,Camp,is not completely convinced. “Yes,guitars and keyboards do sell the fastest at my store,as compared to instruments like the tabla or sitar. However,that is simply a phenomenon of the more cosmopolitan side of town,and most of my customers are from the newer Pune. In the old city,Indian classical still rules supreme,” he smiles.

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