“How long can passion last?”

It is said that music is the greatest tools of unification; it brings in peace, strengthens the bond of brotherhood, it transcends boundaries. Used as a means to remove discrimination, what would it be like if music itself was discriminated upon? Sad? Horrific? Unfortunately, that is just what is happening in Northeast India, as musician Hridoyjit Goswami would like us to believe. His views reaffirm my belief that the western music scene of the region needs a total makeover. I recently sat down with the flamboyant musician in his Silpukhuri residence where we talked about the music scene of the State.

A musician who confesses to have been influenced by a host of musicians, Hridoy has been part of some of the most illustrious bands of the region – Dorian Platonic, Month’s Mind, Chakra to name a few.

At a time when the region is being regarded as the music capital of this corner of the planet, this prolific musician feels that all is not well with the music scene of the region, especially in Asom. “Here, music bands are being formed just because the members are driven together by passion. How long can that passion last?” But does one explain the short life span of the local bands; the fact that bands here are formed only to split after a short while? Hridoy explains, “There is no dearth of talent in our region? But why is that very few bands, if not none, from the State have made it big in the national level? Why are they not able to survive? Quality alone doesn’t help as one also needs strong production and managerial backing”.

In fact, Hridoy is planning to do just that – open a production house to promote local bands and other art forms of Asom. He says, “I plan to start a production house to promote the musicians and bands of the State, besides other fields of arts” and adds, “Other genres of music have all got proper channels for their practitioners but I can’t say the same about western music. People complain that bands here don’t stick for long. Over here, western music is, more or less, a sort of hobby and its practitioners are friends driven together by the passion. But how can you expect people to only play music when it is a fact that they cannot make a living out of it?

So how can a production house change that equation? He explains, “Artist management is a different ballgame altogether. It is important that the compositions of our musicians are packaged, marketed and promoted all over the region as well as the country, that our musicians earn a decent living out of their passion. Over here, there is no one to show that one can make a career out of music. That is important if bands are to stick together for longer periods of time”.
But will financial security alone help? “The environment is also a determining factor for artists.” He says, “Sometime back, I had a discussion with an official from a national level recording studio and he told me that western music comprises about 15 per cent of the market of the country. But since the majority belongs to different genres, they tend to overlook this major niche. Contrary to prevalent beliefs, the crowd for western music is always there, especially so in the Northeast. The moot thing is that the compositions be marketed properly”. He adds, “Instead of playing originals in gigs that are very rarely held, it would be more beneficial if the same compositions are properly packaged and made available in the national market. That way, even the bands will be able to sustain themselves and make a career out of music”.

Hridoy’s musical acumen is not limited just to the ‘Rock and Roll’ as he has extensively dribbled in folk music and traditions, especially Goalpariya folk traditions. As he rightly says, “Although I have a background of rock and blues, we are surrounded by so much folk music that it is difficult to evade its charm”.

However, as he likes us to believe, all is not well with the western music scene here. “Environment is a major determining factor for any art form. For any form of art to flourish, there needs to be positive support and participation of the Government. And to support the art form, it is important that they understand the potential of music first. Take Shillong, Dimapur and Aizwal for instance. The western music scene is flourishing there because the State Governments of those States understand its potential”.

He further states, “It is the best medium to strike a chord with the youth. For instance, take the Ministry of Consumer Affair’s Jago Grahak Jago campaign, which used four prominent western bands of the region to spread messages among the youngsters. Why did they choose western music? Why did the organisers feel that western music is the strongest medium to communicate with the youth? If the Government seeks to understand the potentialities, it can help in so many ways — it can give a boost to tourism for instance”.

A staunch supporter of covers, Hridoy’s statements are hard-hitting but nonetheless important for the holistic development of the music scene. “The most important thing of music is the soul of music. Whether musicians are playing covers or originals is secondary”. He finishes off with panache, “You see, it ain’t got nothing if it ain’t got the soul”.


About Aiyushman Dutta

Who am I? Yet to find the answer. For the time being, u can call me a writer, maybe a journalist and a music entrepreneur or an errand boy! Whatever suits your fancy!

Posted on March 10, 2010, in Concerts/ Reviews, Musicians/ Bands, Personalities/ Interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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