A Prayer & Plea For Indian Arts, Culture & Music

Acts alone do not help in the promotion or prevention of a culture from going to rack and ruin. The hapless condition of our Music & Culture is a glaring example of governmental apathy and neglect. According to a report prepared by UNESCO, the Punjabi language will disappear from the world in 50 years. Our language, dialects, and specially one of the oldest, enduring rich heritages of music, is decaying.

We ourselves are discouraging our children from opting for arts, culture & music as a career. Envious of the progeny of our nearest & dearest ones studying medicine, engineering or IT, we force our children to pick the same career, which they may be least interested in. We don’t want our children to be what they wish to be, and where they can excel; rather we wish them to be, what they don’t want to be and remain average. We want to create doctors, engineers and managers at the cost of our fine tradition of arts and culture. This is a catastrophic development.

We are ignoring music, arts & culture education at the primary level, secondary level, and undergraduate level. In India music is provided very little support as an academic subject, and music teachers feel that they must actively seek greater public endorsement for music education as a legitimate subject of study. Hence, music advocacy is to be promoted significantly. It is our collective responsibility to preserve our inheritance and to develop it into a rich legacy for future generations.

Modernity does not make tradition redundant. We are the offspring of a complex and rich culture, and music has played a crucial role in synthesizing it. It merits more than a disinterested glance by the authorities in colleges and universities. One is amazed at their callousness and quite dumbfounded at their ignorance when they talk of abolishing the subject from their syllabus. They argue that ‘unnecessary’ subjects require monetary props and they want to save their beloved country some much needed cash. We are not the victims of any financial crisis but of pure, unalloyed prejudice. Who will take up cudgels on behalf of us musicians who languish on the dusty shelves of modern education in India?

Of course, a new education policy has been announced by our Govt. Sadly, only technology, polytechnics, industry linked training centers, medicine, management etc. have been the point of discussion. What about our culture, arts and music? Philosophers and pedagogues variously define education. This is said to be the sum total of a man’s character. Education in the Indian tradition is not merely a means of earning a living; nor is it only a nursery of thought or a school for citizenship. It is initiation into the life of spirit, a training of the human soul in the pursuit of truth, and the practice of virtue. However in the present context it is a means to earn one’s living. Education should not merely be treated as a means of empowering people to get jobs for livelihood. The Indian Education Commission (1964-66) asserted that education ought to be related to the life, needs and aspirations of the people and thereby made a powerful instrument of social economic and cultural transformation.

Music has also remained the victim of State Govt.’s horrendous apathy and neglect. As the result of the deliberate, inexplicable intentions of the Punjab Govt. posts of lecturers in music from various Government Colleges like Govt. Barjindra Collge, Faridkot, were abolished. They declared that such subjects were an unnecessary surplus and a drain on the treasury. Later on, following an agitation by the Student and Teacher Unions of Punjab, and keeping in view the upcoming elections, the Govt. of Punjab changed its mind and a few posts were reinstated.

Our academia in India has failed to attract students who are genuinely interested in music. Life has changed in the last decade. We cannot apply the same decadent vision to our education system. Our educational institutes are offering the same old fashioned, hackneyed, outmoded two/three year courses & examination programs in arts, culture and music. A revision is mandatory and it should be accepted without any raising of eyebrows. We will have to design new state-of-the-art curricula to urge students towards the study of art & culture, especially music.

The United States of America and some of the European Countries have outlined National Standards for arts Education to be followed by every student and teacher at the primary level, as well as the secondary level art education.

– Students should be able to communicate at a basic level in the four arts disciplines-dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts.
– Students should be able to communicate proficiently in at least one art form.
– Students should be able to develop and present basic analyses of works of art.
– Students should have an informed acquaintance with exemplary works of art from a variety of cultures and historical periods.
– Students should be able to relate various types of arts, knowledge, and skills within and across the arts disciplines.

There is a set of national standards in music education also, which most teachers adhere to:

– Singing alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
– Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
– Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
– Reading and notating music.
– Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
– Evaluating music and music performances.
– Understanding relationships between music, the arts, and other disciplines outside the arts.

The Indian Government and private institutions should also include these musical standards in their Education system. Teachers should establish these standards in classrooms beginning in a kindergarten general music class, and ending in undergraduate level general, band, choral, or orchestral classes.

In today’s ‘global village’ scenario, the higher education system of developing nations like us must seek integration with universal learning. The concept of internationalization of higher education in syllabi, teaching and research should be implemented. Our institutes must introduce some new ultra modern courses in music.

Small duration Courses:

Music playing and performance courses should be offered at college level, e.g. Guitar/Sitar/Tabla Intermediate (duration 3 months), Music performance, Flute Ensemble etc. 3 months duration Courses in different instruments like Sitar, Tabla, Harmonium, Sarangi, Flute, Violin, Guitar, Synthesizer, Drums etc. Different courses in different genres should be offered e.g. Classical, Folk, World Music, Fusion, Bollywood, Light Music, Western including Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, Opera, Operetta, Zarzuela, Rock, Grind core, Heavy Metal, Punk, Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Rap, Jazz, Electronica, Break beat, Drum & Bass, Ambient, Electro, Down tempo, Electro, House, Trance, Techno, UK Garage, Reggae, Calypso etc.

We must host in our college, graduate and undergraduate programs in musicology, evolutionary musicology, ethnomusicology, bio-musicology, music technology, zoo-musicology, music therapy, musilanguage, and music education.

Courses in Musicology (Socio-musicology, Zoo-musicology and Evolutionary Musicology): including:

Music Archeology, Music Appreciation, Introduction to Musicology, Methodology (research methods) of Music, Philology of Music, Orchestration, Counterpoint and Fugue, Acoustics of Music, Aesthetic Philosophy, Composer or Genre, Topics in Music Literature, Introduction to Music Bibliography.

Courses in Zoo musicology: including:

Fundamentals of Sound and Music of the World, World Music Theory and Musicianship, Musical Cultures of the World, World Music Performance Organizations, Psychology of Music, Experimental Research in Music, Anthropology of Music, Music of different countries, Music and Mind, Historical Readings in Ethnomusicology, Material Culture of Music, Interpretive Theories and Music.

Courses in Music Technology: including:

Degree Course in Creative Sound Engineering & Music Technology, Degree in Audio & Music Production, Live Sound Courses, Music Writing, Music Business, Music Publishing.

Music Therapy Courses:

A university in Australia is offering a course in Music Therapy which includes: – Applications of Music in Therapy (child clients, adult clients, contemporary contexts), Research in Music Therapy, Music Psychology Research, Music Therapy Skills (guitar, voice, groups and verbal counseling skills, improvisation skills, working toward performance and songwriting, vocal improvisation, receptive methods), Clinical Training in Music Therapy, Guided imagery and music (therapy that combines music and deep relaxation states to explore and guide thoughts and feelings).

Music Education courses:

This program should be designed to enhance the knowledge, skills and understanding of both current and prospective music educators. One can learn through academic study and practice within an international context.

Institutions must start offering courses which are universally recognized and acclaimed. Each course must provide an opportunity for all different kinds of musicians to pursue their own work. A student should also learn about the wider context of music. One of the primary aims of the course should be to facilitate students’ understanding of their contemporary musical world, in short its wide historical and contemporary context. At the same time, Music Degree pathways should offer considerable crossovers and opportunity for collaboration, so that a student is enabled to explore and use the most advanced techniques of contemporary music. Throughout the course, a student should be encouraged to choose his/her own area of focus and identify his/her own distinctive musical personality. This personal evolution of potential will easily lead to a body of composition, performance or written work that will, in turn, open doors both to existing career paths and the creation of new market niches. A creative vocational approach arms graduates with diversity of experience, backed with a strong skill base and theoretical underpinning.

Burlesque Fashions – A History of Burlesque and Its Costumes

Burlesque & pinup fashions are suddenly all over the Internet. The original burlesque designs with their risqué overtones have become the fun fashion, being adapted and adopted by rockabilly. Almost every city now hosts regular burlesque events where not just the performers, but the audience gets to dress the part as well.

Origins of burlesque – lingerie on show!

The word burlesque probably derives from the French, which describes a piece of slightly outrageous, humorous art. The term burlesque originally applied to shows intended for middle or lower classes. Such shows lampooned upper class niceties and parodying upper class entertainments like opera & dance. Such music and comedy shows and plays grew in popularity on both sides of the Atlantic during the nineteenth century. In Victorian England, where even “a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking”, burlesque challenged its audience by offering rather more than a “glimpse of stocking” – the lure of young ladies appearing in tights and lingerie! Certainly demure by today’s standards these slightly suggestive interludes certainly boosted the popularity of burlesque. Lydia Thompson took a burlesque troupe, called the British Blondes to New York near the end of the 1860s where they were an immediate hit. At first they were feted by the press, but before long strident voices, from the pulpit and the papers were complaining of loose morals and indecency. The result of all this adverse publicity was to spread the word about burlesque far and wide in America effectively having the reverse effect to that desired by burlesque’s critics – female burlesque troupes with close copies of the original British act sprung up around the country.

These shows owed a great deal of their structure to the minstrel shows of the time and generally consisted of three parts – the initial section featuring the ladies, the middle section was a mix of male comedians and specialty acts and the final part the grand finale. Copying Lydia Thompson’s lead, most of the troupes had female managers. However towards the end of the nineteenth century, as male managers took over, they switched the emphasis away from comedy to push boundaries, determined to show as much uncovered female flesh as the laws would allow.

This form of entertainment metamorphosed in the early twentieth century into a mix of music hall, satire and striptease. During the twenties the bias continued inexorably towards striptease and away from the accompanying elements. This shift doubtlessly was burlesque’s downfall; by the thirties the popularity of burlesque waned as a social reaction against what had become slightly tawdry striptease shows. Local authorities were no longer as tolerant of this entertainment, which had lost much of its music hall variety flavor.

New Burlesque

In the mid nineteen nineties the genre was resurrected, with troupes in the USA, and the trend has snowballed over to the UK. Now, once more on both sides of the channel, it is possible to see shows equal in glamour, bawdiness and variety to equal the art form in its heyday in clubs and theatres in major cities. Arguably the Internet has played a major part to spread the interest in the genre. There are websites, such as Ministry of Burlesque dedicated to promoting it, to teaching dance, makeup and fashion.

Burlesque lingerie fashion

The mainstay of this style is lingerie and modern burlesque generally concentrates on the fifties and to a lesser degree the forties look. This extends not only to clothing, but hats, footwear and makeup too. There have always been fans of fifties silk and nylon stockings. When pantyhose all but killed the stocking market vast numbers of stocking mills closed. Their huge stocking machines were destroyed and along with it the expertise to manufacture fully-fashioned stockings. Now the few remaining machines are being reconditioned and brought back into service to once more produce copies of the fifties seamed stockings. However a few companies trading online still have limited supplies of the original fifties stockings so the purists can satisfy their need to the ‘real thing’ rather than the modern copies. Sadly, once that depleting stock is exhausted, they will only be viewable in museums and private collections.

However, for burlesque stage performance it is the fishnet tights or pantyhose that are still really popular.

Companies are making exact copies both of retro costumes and burlesque accessories, from ostrich feather fans to bullet bras, sensing an opportunity not to be missed, are enticing. Even well-known burlesque artists are being enticed by lingerie brands to lend their names and expertise to burlesque-inspired lingerie designs.

Burlesque is eagerly embraced by all physiques, from plus size to skinny-minny, proving how empowering it can be to women – all physiques are equally welcomed, but there is not set ‘burlesque costume’ either. It is very common for burlesque artists to take everyday lingerie, adapt it by sewing on sequins to devise their own unique take on burlesque. However the common thread that runs through the new outfits, going right back to the earliest days of the art form is the element of ‘tease’, the showing of rather more lingerie and stocking tops that would normally be seen in everyday life.

Rockabilly fashion

Over the years a number of fashion styles have grown towards each other, oft times overlapping. The word rockabilly was used around the mid forties and was a blend of hillbilly and rock and roll music styles. Today’s pinup photographers generally recreate the stylish fifties imagery which overlaps but is distinct from rockabilly. Many rockabilly enthusiasts have tattoos and piercings, and that certainly was never a fad of the fifties, but a modern phenomenon.

Pinup fashion

The term pinup also has blurred origins, covering photos of movie stars from around the thirties and forties, but also the airbrushed fantasy women gracing men’s magazines by such exponents as Petty and Elvgren. The fashions often featured nylons and lingerie, sometimes being exposed by a sudden unexpected gust of wind or other ‘mishap’ that befell the model. The intention was actually to reveal very very little by today’s standards. It is a certainty that pinup art, with the sexy lingerie has strongly influenced the outfits adopted by many of today’s burlesque artists.

What Is Hip Hop – Hip Hop Culture, Clothing, Jewelry And Music

Hip hop as defined by The American Heritage College Dictionary is “The popular culture of big city and especially inner city youth, characterized by graffiti art, break dancing, and rap music-of or relating to this culture.”

Today, most people characterize hip hop as simply rap music. They do not truly understand the history and the current influence hip-hop has on the whole youth culture. You see rap music is just one element of hip hop.

True hip hop isn’t just about music; it’s a culture, a way of life, a language, a fashion, a set of values, and a unique perspective. Hip hop is an economy; it’s the ability to take the inner-city negative cash flow system of hustling, pushing, pimping, and banging, and turn it into a multi-million, or possibly even billion dollar business.

So hip hop then is about dance, art, expression, pain, love, racism, sexism, broken families, hard times, and overcoming adversity. It’s about trying to live out the American dream from the bottom up. It’s about trying to make something out of nothing; about the youth culture of New York City and other urban cities taking over the world.

With this culture comes hip hop clothing, jewelry and music. Also terminologies such as: Breakin’ (dance), Emceein’ (rap), Graffiti (aerosol art), Deejayin, Beatboxin, Street Fashion, Street Knowledge, Street Entrepreneurialism came into being.

Most youngsters everywhere opts for hip hop clothing and jewelry. Jewelry is a matter of prestige and sign of wealth for most individuals. The hottest stars and athletes find it interesting to wear such jewelry. The jewelry is worn even by men who do not give any importance to jewelry and other fashion accessories.

Different Fashions – Alternative Fashion Styles

Clothing was always, ever since man started wrapping himself in various animal fur, a statement of a certain kind. Fashion, as a style popularized and excepted by many in modern day, just deepened that statement’s importance. Choosing one style or another gave people in all cultures a way of expressing themselves, and as there was always a fashion followed by majority of society, there was another, somewhere in the back of it, denying and rejecting it.

Alternative fashion styles are tightly close to music genres of what is also labeled as “alternative”, such as rock and roll, punk, gothic, hardcore, and all varieties that rose up from those. Many social and cultural issues are brought up by associating a subculture with a type of music and a way of clothing, such as denying status quo of classes, governmental policies, distribution of power, and identity policy which majority popularized. Identity, in fact, is the most important aspect of alternative fashion and as an embodiment of it, it produced a variety of styles, to show the same variety of opinion, discontent, or rejecting the traditional values which are always transformed in shape but steady in structure in the mainstream fashion.

Reimagining one’s own identity is a process that is followed by changes in personal appearance and usually approaching values of a subculture which offers to individual a better view of society. Those values are mirrored in music, clothes and accessories. Influenced by vintage and retro fashion, dress styles, forms of visual and performance art, personal attitudes towards concepts such as individuality, consumerism, social constructs on behavior, and considerations of availability and utilitarianism, rock and roll and punk had a very strong ground to stand on when social criticizm through clothing became unseparable part of the genres.

Since the 50s and 70s which were the turning point years, rock and roll and punk styles got multiplied by many, and brought us gothic, cyber gothic (and other varieties of gothic fashion which is still one of the strongest alternative movements in creation of new gender roles and identities and social boundaries), industrial (strongly influenced by military uniforms), Beatniks, Metal, Heavy Metal, Glam Metal (and many subgenres of metal music which has their own set of clothing styles), Hippie, Riot grrrl, Lolita, Mod, Ero kawaii (and many, many, many Japanese influenced styles with a strong influence on Western fashion, alternative and mainstream, such as Elegant Gothic Aristocrat), and many more. Individuality is an important part of alternative fashion, but there are always patterns (otherwise we would not call it a fashion), and even punk fashion, as an extreme form of rejecting social system through hairstyle, piercings, ripped clothes etc has a certain structure which can except anyone who wants to join it.

As styles change, and we are going further in time from the origins of musical genres which brought us new fashion(s), it is apparent that they are still here, regardless of gender, class, age or culture, transforming and giving people a stronger voice to say “We are different, and we want more”.

Nokia 5310 XpressMusic – The Music Phone

The new Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is an incredibly stylish handset. It comes in a mainly black colored casing complete with colored sections. The colour pattern makes it look very fashionable. The Nokia 5310 has a large TFT screen of 2 inches in size. Its 240 × 320 pixels resolution may display upto 16 million colours. The handset comes with a measurement of 9.9 x 44.7 x 103.8mm. it is a very lightweight easy to hold device weighing just 71 grams including the battery.

The most interesting feature of Nokia 5310 XpressMusic edition is its music specifications. These days, mobile users want a mobile which can play instant music with good sound quality. This mobile phone from Nokia fits an easy to access music player which supports MP3, MP4, AAC, eAAC+ and WMA music formats.

The XpressMusic comes with an album art, music playlists and an equaliser. The speaker system of the mobile phone is dynamic and it makes the sound of music quite mesmerising. This handset can provide musical entertainment by offering up to 18 hours of music playback time. The user can store approximately 3000 tracks to enjoy on the device.

Everyone wants to capture some of the moments of life while on move. For this purpose, the mobile phone includes an integrated 2 megapixel camera that assures of perfect photography.

The 4x digital zoom camera is capable of taking crisp pictures. The pictures can be saved and shared very easily. The handset has 30Mbytes of built-in memory which can be expanded by adding a memory card upto 4 Gbytes.

In the device, the user can store upto 2,000 contact names with up to three contact numbers under each contact’s name. The handset is powered by a Li-Ion 860mAh (BL-4CT) standard battery. A fully charged battery has a life of approximately 300 hours of standby time and 5 hours of talk time. Thus Nokia 5310XpressMusic is really an extra-ordinary phone for music lovers.