Indian classical music connoisseurs had long been waiting for this — an app that packs in all things classically musical.
Saregama Classical, from the stable of Saregama India Ltd, is here, as a first-of-its-kind digital destination for Hindustani, Carnatic and Fusion music. The app offers a huge collection from all the three genres, with over 8,000 songs, more than 400 artistes and 50 radio stations.
Available on iTunes & GooglePlay, the app is simple and offers vocals, instrumentals and interesting anecdotes from the world of Indian classical music.
Besides top vocalists such as Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Dr M Balmuralikrishnan and M S Subbulakshmi, among many others, the app also as an extensive portfolio of instrumental music featuring violin, veena, mandolin, mridangam, tabla, guitar, sarangi, flute, nadaswaram, sitar, shehnai and others.
Saregama Classical claims to have something to satiate that classical musical penchant whenever a music lover names a classical or a fusion song or thinks of an artiste or an instrument.
To test this, I tried to find an Ahir Lalit bandish rendered by Ajoy Chakrabarty that I had heard way back in 1991 but did not come across again. To my surprise, I found the soulful composition, ‘Mere bhale bure sab tere’, right here on this app.
The content is a Pandora’s Box for any classical music lover. Apart from the very popular compositions, such as ‘Sambho Mahadeva’ and ‘Hari tum haro’ by M S Subbulakshmi and Parween Sultana’s ‘Bhavani Dayani’, I also came across some equally high-quality, but lesser known, works.
And for the not-so-classically inclined, the Fusion content, too, is quite extensive.
The app has already seen 5,000 downloads, and Saregama India plans a consistent addition of fresh content to it in all genres.
The app has a simple user interface, and each major content category — Hindustani, Carnatic and Fusion — is further divided into Vocal, Instrumental and Raaga categories. Users can select artistes, or navigate by instruments to listen to their favourite numbers. Under Raagas, users can access a list of songs based on their chosen raaga. And there is also the option of listening to the songs ‘offline’, without having to use the Internet. The songs will, however, remain on the app; you cannot download them on to your device.
“Research shows, with the decline of the CDs, ardent classical music lovers in India and across the globe find it difficult to discover and consume music of their favourite artistes. Hence, we decided to launch this unique app both for the music connoisseurs as well as those who want to get exposed to the classical music. From the first recording of Ustad Bismillah Khan’s shehnai to the Fusion music of Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan, the app…will surely appeal to the smartphone-savvy music lovers,” says Vikram Mehra, managing director, Saregama India Ltd.
The 20 MB app can link up to four mobile devices — across Android and iOS — to a single subscription account. It’s free-to-download, and users get a trial period to enjoy and experience all the features. Subsequently, Android users can pay Rs 99 onwards per month, and buy semi-annual and annual packages for Rs 495 and Rs 890, respectively. For Apple users, the monthly subscription is available for Rs 120, while the semi-annual and annual packages will cost Rs 620 and Rs 1,050, respectively.
With features such as commentary studded with anecdotes by specialists, besides notes on various raagas and biographical information, it seems the app has the potential to engage classical music fans. The radio option is an added attraction, with specially curated stations across genres. It comes with a list of pre-programmed songs and you can also see the upcoming track.
On the downside, I was disappointed to not find K J Yesudas, Kaushiki Chakrabarty and a few other singers. Some of the songs take unusually long to load, irrespective of Internet speed. I would personally like a robust ghazal stock; the ones listed — sung by artiste Naina Devi — simply failed to load on my device. Light classical compositions in other Indian languages will be a bonus.