Monthly Archives: November 2010

It’s all about spreading the music!

Eastern Beats committed to cause of music

While Children’s Day was celebrated all over the country by various institutions in their own special ways, city-based Faculty Higher Secondary School in Gitanagar and the Eastern Beats Music Society celebrated the day with music among children of the school.

Popular rock band Wandering Souls performed in front of the school children that day. Talking about the experience, Wandering Soul guitarist and front man Bhobojeet said, “The show was an extension of our commitment towards promoting good music amongst our children”.

Vocalist Jyotirmoy added, “Most often than not, schools often use DJ’s to provide entertainment to the children during these kind of festive occasions. My sincere thanks to the Faculty Higher Secondary School principal for giving the space to organize this celebration.”

‘Wandering Souls’ is a Guwahati-based rock band with the members professing an unique identity and all of them having innovative and artistic minds. All the members of ‘Wandering Souls’ are committed towards promoting peace and internal harmony in our society through music.

The motto of ‘Wandering Souls’ is to promote peace and healing of the body, mind and soul in each and every youth and member of the new generation through the tools of music. The band is committed to living up to the ideals of using music and the Arts as a social tool. At the same time, the band also believes in using music to bring oneself closer to the inner soul and to God. ‘Wandering Souls’ want to bring our youth closer to their roots by incorporating folk elements in their compositions.

Formed in January, 2005, the band consists of Jyotirmoy, Bhobojeet, Bikash, Pankaj, Neil and Debajit. The achievements of the band includes performances at ‘Cross windz’ – national level rock contest in 2009 – where the band picked up the best bass guitarist award, performance at Pyrokinesis 2009 where the band won the runners-up title, the Best bass guitarist award and the Best vocalist award, performance in ‘Sycisis’ 2009 where it won the runners-up title and the Best vocalist award, performance in JEC where it won the best bassist award, amongst others.

Livewire finally reaches NE

Auditions for eight States to be held in Gangtok

The East Zone eliminations for Livewire Mood Indigo, the annual rock fest of IIT Bombay, will be held at Gangtok on November 30 next. A number of bands from the Northeast have applied for registration in the regional auditions, says head coordinator Yogesh Kumbhejkar. Interested bands from the Northeast can apply for the competition by sending their band profile and demos to livewire@moodi.org or call at +91-9619436493 or +91-9860663515.

The highlight of this year’s Livewire is the headlining performance by Swedish Metal Giants KATATONIA and legendary Indian rock band INDUS CREED. While Katatonia is likely to be a huge draw for the metal lovers, Indus Creed, for the uninitiated, is the biggest rock band of the 90s that rode on a new wave of popularity, thanks to the MTV craze amongst the youth in those days. The band is back, with new melodies, new lyrics and a totally new line-up. The event is scheduled on December 21 next.

We have really great incentives for participants this year, says Yogesh. The goodies include a cash prize of worth Rs 70,000 for the winners, a Kramer guitar worth Rs. 70,000 for the Best Guitarist, Furtados vouchers worth Rs 1,10,000 for the winning bands and individual winners, amongst other goodies. Besides, the top 3 bands will open for swedish metal giants KATATONIA and legendary rock band INDUS CREED. This apart, the winners will avail of a contract to record an EP of 4 songs at the Four Zone Music studio.

Livewire Mood Indigo is IIT Bombay’s annual college cultural festival. Livewire is the country’s top rock band competition which is being organized as part of Mood Indigo for last 30 years. Livewire has been the launchpad for India’s top rock bands like Parikrama, Zero, Vayu, Pentagram, amongst others. Last year over 200 bands from all over the country registered for livewire. Till now, Livewire eliminations were conducted in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangaluru; twelve bands were chosen for participation in eliminations at each venue. Out of which 5 bands were chosen from each city for the semifinals held in IIT Bombay. This is the first time that auditions are being held in the Northeast.

Talking about the Northeast leg of auditions, he said, “Over the years, the participation of North-eastern bands in our fest has not been as overwhelming as has been the case in other parts of the country. The main reason for that being the long distance. Considering the strong rock/metal culture in all the north-eastern states, we felt it is essential for a national rock band competition to have participation from all the North Eastern States.”

“We feel the auditions will be a great opportunity for the bands from Northeast India to showcase their great talent on a national platform,” opines the organizer, even as he urged the local bands to come forward for the auditions.

Hornbill National Rock 2010 promises to be a big draw

Digital Suicide and Sunday Mourning from Assam among 20 shortlisted bands

The mother of all rock contests is back. The Hornbill National Rock competition is just round the corner, scheduled to be held in the first week of December next. As twenty top bands from across the country get ready to battle it out for the winner’s title, all I can say is that this year’s contest is turning out to be much bigger and better!

For the uninitiated, the Hornbill National Rock contest is part of the famed Hornbill festival of Nagaland, which is possibly the longest music festival of the country. The Honrbill festival is one of the most loved dance and music festivals of the country and thousands of people throng to Kisama – the games village – every year to take part in this mega cultural extravaganza.

Talking about the objective of the festival, an organizer of the festival pointed out, “Such an extravaganza is in keeping with the essence of the many Naga festivals; marked by feasts, dances, games and music, all in full measure. Nagas do not do things in small instalments. These celebrations invariably coincide with agricultural lean periods such as after-harvest, and therefore the feeling of gaiety and generosity, even to a fault. Circumstances have changed; some have moved on while a few still embraces the old ways. Nevertheless, in either case the joie de vivre of the Nagas lives on. The annual Hornbill Festival, and therefore the Hornbill National Rock, is set in this background. In time, we hope to go international.”

The Honrbill national rock contest is held on the final day of the Hornbill festival and is the most popular event among the youth. The contest carries a reward of Rs 5,00,000 (Rupees Five Lakh only) for the winners, which is possibly the highest prize money in a rock contest in our country. The first runners’-up and second runners-up get prize rewards of Rs. 3,00,000 and Rs 2,00,000 respectively.

The contest is divided into two segments: the first part involves submission of compositions by rock outfits of the country. The second segment sees the selected bands battling it out for three days of competition at the venue. Meanwhile, separate auditions are held for bands of Nagaland.

The list of bands selected for the Hornbill National Rock Contest 2010 includes 3rd Sovereign (Delhi), Da Primitive Future (Darjeeling). Digital Suicide (Guwahati), Incarnadine (Bengaluru), Insanity Quotient (Pune), Not Yet Decided (Kolkata), Phobia (New Delhi), Rosemary (Mumbai), Sixes and Seven (Mizoram), Street Stores (Shillong), Slain (Bengaluru), Sunday Mourning (Guwahati), The Fringe Pop (Pilani), The P.A.G.E (Kolkata), Tripwire (Mumbai), Underground Authority (Kolkata).

Meanwhile, the separate Nagaland State auditions for the Hornbill national Rock Contest 2010 was held at the Heritage Bungalow near Raj Bhavan in Kohima. A total of 20 spirited bands armed with talent galore fought it out in the battle of the bands to take the top four slots. The judges for the event were Tangit Imsong, MDACC’s Director of music (Mokokchung District Art and Culture Council), Vesato Theluo; (M.Mus) Major Voice Phillippine, presently music lecturer in Patkai christain college and Abemo Enyie, a seasoned senior musician of the State. The audition was formally launched by Youth Resources and sports (YRS) Secretary Bendang Longchari, while Music Task Force (MTF) Project Director Gugs Chishi gave the welcome address.

The four selected bands from the state are Dementia, Melodrama, Incipid and Sunep Assemble Band. The final segment for this year’s Hornbill National Rock Contest kicks off in Kohima from December 4 next. And as the contest heats up, I wish all the bands the very best!

Shillong to host Regional Short Film Festival

The maiden edition of the Regional Short Film Festival of India, with the theme ‘The Natives of a Nation’, will be organized by the Meghalaya chapter of North East Film and Television Producers’ Directors’ Association (NEFTPDA) from December 2 to 4, 2010, at Shillong.

Short films and documentaries from all over the country will be screened during the festival which includes several IDPA award winning films. Green Oscar winning ‘The Wild Meat Trail’ of Rita Banerji and Shilpi Sharma which also won Best Environment Film in IDPA awards recently will one of the major attractions of the festival. The film portrays community and individual hunting practices in different parts of North-East India, tracking the complex transition of these utility and ritual-based hunting traditions into an increasingly commercial activity geared to generate cash.

NEFTPDA president Jahnu Barua said, “It’s a noble venture initiated by the Meghalaya chapter of NEFTPDA that would help to showcase the regional films from different parts of the country at the film festival.”

He further said, “The films of Northeast and perhaps the regional films of the other regions in the country are facing enormous constraints and are yet to achieve the desired impetus due to lack of promotion and the invasion of popular culture and glamour in the entertainment industry. The festival will be helpful in this regard.” The festival comprises of a total of fifteen hours duration of selected films from the North Eastern Region and about ten hours total duration of selected regional films from the rest of India.

In the competition section for North East films there will be four categories of awards- the Best Film Award, the second Best Film Award, the Best Director Award and the Jury award for the Best Film. NEFTPDA is planning to institute the awards in the name of local eminent personalities with exceptional achievement and contribution in the society. The special committee was formed to identify the persons in whose name the award shall be honoured and conferred upon. The Festival director Raphael Warjri said that there would be several programmes like interaction sessions, seminars, workshops or lectures, discourses on film appreciation by guest speakers.

Dementia wins Assam’s first national rock contest

2nd Karbi Anglong Beats Contest 2010 a big draw

Assam’s recently got its first national contest. And what a contest it was. Ten top bands from all over country, battling it out for the winners tropy and the cash award of Rs 50,000; that too in a remote village of Assam and with the virulent hills of Karbi Anglong in the backdrop – can anything be more interesting than that? The 2nd Karbi Anglong Beats 2010 was truly a winner on all fronts.

The 2nd edition of this increasingly popular beats contest was held at Serhong Kup in Rongtheang this year. Like last year, it was clubbed with the Rongtheang fest which is into its eight year this time, informed Eastern Beats Music Society treasurer Mizi Kro. The theme of this year’s contest was ‘Youth for Peace and Development’.

At the end of a gruelling competition, Dementia from Nagaland was declared the winners and they walked away with cash prize of Rupees Fifty thousand. Cleave from Manipur finished a close second.
The other bands in the competition were Dream Diabolic (Gangtok), Dissected Soul (West Bengal), Circles End (West Bengal), Maestro (Assam), Horjwlai (Tripura), Melodrama (Nagaland), Ball of Fire and Filharmonix (Assam).

Moa and Arenla Subong of popular experimental rock band Abiogenesis, veteran guitarist Utpal Barsaikia, harmonica player BB Hagjer and drummer Sarat Teron were the judges of the competition, which saw the bands playing at Serhong Kup in front of a crowd of around 6 to 8,000 people – possibly one of the biggest crowd turnouts for a rock contest in the State in recent times.

Part of the 8th Rongtheang fest 2010, the 2nd Karbi Anglong Beats 2010 was organized with the support of Mc Dowells No. 1 soda, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India; Numaligarh Refinery Limited, State Bank of India, The Northeast Today, Rolling Stone, Sound Box, and others.

Thousands of people had entered Serhong Kup – the venue for the Rock concert – and lapped up all the music that was in store for them, proving that Diphu and its adjoining areas has the best crowd of rock lovers. As Purab, vocalist of Filharmonix, said, “I have never played in front of such a fantastic crowd. We played an entire set of originals and yet their participation was mindblowing. The audience response makes up for our sadness at having lost the contest!”

Eastern Beats Music Society consulting secretary Amlandeep Das said, “The 2nd Karbi Anglong National Beats contest was dedicated entirely for development of youth in Karbi Anglong. The fact that all the political parties, administration and separatist outfits supported us in this endeavour should be a case in point. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the people of Rongtheang and Karbi Anglong for all their support.”

The Rongtheang fest is a mega ethnic carnival that witnesses the participation of more than 12 different tribes and communities. Held over a three-day period in Rongtheang village, this festival acts as a perfect platform for building the spirit of brotherhood and bonhomie. At a time when gaps in the social fabric of Assam are becoming more and more evident with each passing day, Rongtheang fest can be the perfect village festival for villages and towns in other parts of the State to emulate. Some of the major tribes and communities in Rongtheang are the Karbis, Dimasas, Rongmei Nagas, Biates, Hmars, Mizos, Vaipheis, Bodos, caste Hindu Assamese, amogst others.

Various competitions like blind-hit competition, stilt walking competition, couple show, salad making competition, fashion competitions, etc, besides traditional cultural competitions were held across all three days. While the final inter-cultural dance display of all the different tribes and communities of the village provided a spectacular sight, the other big draws for visitors in the festival were the extremely well-choreographed fashion show on the final day and the food complex which had a lot of traditional food items up for sale.

India to get first experimental music museum

The country’s tryst with music is getting deeper with each passing day. India is now all set to get its own museum dedicated entirely to experimental music – the Indian Music Experience or IME. The museum has been conceptualised as a not-for-profit initiative of the Brigade Millennium Welfare Trust.


World music writer Madanmohan Rao, who has been striving to promote World Music, has been appointed a research director in the museum. Talking about the project, a museum source said, “This is the beginning of a fascinating journey—a journey that will culminate in the birth of the Indian Music Experience. In 2012, get ready to experience a transformation in the way you experience music. This Indian Music Experience will bring music much closer to you.”

You may be wondering what the IME will be. While a traditional ‘collection based’ museum encapsulates the idea that the soul of a museum is its collection and therein lies its identity, an experiential museum represents the idea that the visitor is central, and the museum’s function is that of a catalyst in an intensely personal and transformational experience.

IME—India’s first experiential music museum—will be dedicated to showcasing India’s rich music culture. The IME will feature multimedia galleries, performance and learning spaces, and interactive exhibits. This unique museum intends to encourage a rediscovery of various genres of Indian music, from the traditional to the contemporary.

Located within the Brigade Millennium enclave, this space will be a blend of inspiring architecture and aesthetic design, enhancing the overall experience. An architecture design competition was the first step in this exciting journey when a team of judges selected the design submissions for the contest. The awards ceremony was preceded by a music concert by the Pandit Prakash Sontakke Ensemble.

In support of independent thought

BOOK REVIEW: QUEST

The perception of north-eastern culture and society, to a huge extent, has been blurred by the continuing tradition of colonial scholarship. Many disciples, like anthropology and history, continue to follow the colonial pattern; they carry and strengthen the myths created by Western scholars, who were mostly made up of functionaries of the colonial powers. The fact that this kind of colonial anthropology continues till date, even after six decades of Indian independence, should be taken as a matter of great concern.

This year’s first edition of Quest, which touches on and examines a host of such thought-provoking and highly relevant issues, begins on this very note. A biannual publication of the Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture, I have been receiving the issues of Quest for the past couple of years and going through the compilation of well-researched articles has always been a fruitful exercise for me.

Moving on to this issue of Quest, the editorial rues the hold of colonial scholarship over Indian scholars, who continue to carry on with the “distortions” and “myths” in their academic discourses, totally ignoring the facts disproving the same. With the tone set in the editorial itself, the issue of historical distortion is later examined in detail by Michael Danino, a French-born researcher who has been living in India and writing on Indian culture and civilization since 1977. Quoting Sri Aurobindo, Danino stresses the need for Indians to learn to think independently about themselves. He notes, “The Indian mind is by nature supple and progressive; it has been crippled by centuries of stagnation, and now rootless education. To look at ourselves afresh, we first need to re-intellectualise ourselves.”

The chief editor of Quest is BB Kumar while Prof Dinesh Chandra Barooah, Dr. Dipanka Saikia and Sujatha Nayak are the other members of the editorial board. The journal is published by the Vivekananda Institute of Culture in Guwahati. An editorial member said that the publication of the book stemmed due to two primary objectives: firstly, to explore the country’s ageless wisdom with special reference to Northeast India and India’s cultural spread in different countries, and secondly, to examine misleading theories of Northeast India, seeking to rebuild confidence and respect towards our cultural ties.

Talking about cultural ties, it was especially a delight for me to go through Basanta Kr. Bora’s well-analysed piece on the underlying unity between the Rabhas and the Garos. Taking into consideration the recent clashes between the two communities at Boko near Guwahati, the relevance of this article need not be explained further.

From time immemorial, due to the physical proximity of the Garos and Rabhas, both communities share an inexplicable culture bond between them; a “relationship which reflects in the socio-cultural arena of the communities as well and which began to wither away once the Garos converted to Christianity”. In this regard, Bora talks about the similarities between the Hanaghora dance of the Rabhas and the Wangala dance of the Garos. In his write-up supported by audio-visual documentation, Bora talks about the tragedy of conversion for which a beautiful religo-cultural traditional understanding between two communities collapsed.

Eminent scholar and twice-elected member of the Indian parliament Professor Lokesh Chandra also contributes to the compilation with his timely and apt take on human solidarity. At a time when claims of possessions of divine mandate, seeking to abolish existing multiplicity of religious systems and liberal cultures, are destabilizing societies and causing reactionary violence on a global scale, Chandra’s take on solidarity amongst human beings was thought-provoking.

Quest also touches on another important issue – that of unity amidst the immense diversity that is the cultural fabric of India, and the same has been beautifully dealt by Mananeeya Nivedita Bhide in another timely write-up. Touching on an issue of vital importance and relevance in our very own vibrant region, Bhide rightly says that one can celebrate, adore and nurture diversity only if he or she has the vision of Oneness. “It is this vision of oneness that the Indian communities share and can thus integrate, relate with each other keeping one’s uniqueness intact. Only vision of Oneness enables us to see the unifying bonds,” the author notes.

Ram Swarup, Dina Nath Mishra, Shankar Saran, Dr. Gajen Adhikari, Madhuri Santanam Sondhi and Sandhya Jain are the other well-known writers whose works grace the pages of this wonderful and highly relevant issue of Quest. My heartiest congratulations to the editorial board for bringing out such a well-planned compilation of intriguing write-ups.

Anwesa invited to perform in Dharini Kalotsav 2010

Prolific Satriya dancer Anwesa Mahanta has been invited to perform at the Dharini Kalotsav 2010 in Enrakulum, Kerela on November 2 next. One of the most prestigious dance festivals of the country, the Dharani Kalotsav, a five-day dance and music extravaganza, is organized by ‘Society Dharani’ – a Kochi-based cultural organisation. Prolific Satriya dancer Anwesa Mahanta has been invited to perform at the Dharini Kalotsav 2010 in Enrakulum, Kerela on November 2. One of the most prestigious dance festivals of the country, the Dharani Kalotsav, a five-day dance and music extravaganza, is organized by ‘Society Dharani’ – a Kochi-based cultural organisation.

Society Dharani was established in the year 2000 by Shyamala Surendran, a well-known dancer, for organizing performances of classical art forms by eminent dancers of India. The Society has tried to create an awareness and appreciation for pristine classical arts. Lecture demonstrations by the artistes themselves are held in between the programmes. Students of Dharani school are exposed to as many performing arts as possible through these programmes and lecture demonstrations. The venue of the programme is usually Kerala Fine Arts Hall located at Park avenue. The Kalotsav starts on November 1st every year as a celebration of Kerala Piravi day (the day the State of Kerala was formed).

A dedicated performer of Sattriya Dance, Anwesa Mahanta is the daughter of Dr Pradip Jyoti Mahanta and Minati Choudhury of Beltola, Guwahati. She received her graduation with Honours in English Literature from Cotton College, securing 2nd Position and passed MA in English from the Gauhati University in 2008 securing First Class. She is now pursuing her Ph.D. programme in performing arts at Delhi University.

A bright student in academics Anwesa started learning both Bharatanatyam and Sattriya Dance since her early childhood under the guidance of Smt Indira PP Bora (a Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee) and Bayanacharya Ghanakanta Bora, respectively.

Trained in both Bharatanatyam and Sattriya, Anwesa has been pursuing dance, Sattriya in particular, not merely as a pastime but as a chosen path of her growing and devotional journey. During this journey over the years she has been trying with utmost sincerity to enlarge the performance canvas and expand her repertoire constantly, drawing resource material from the vast literary corpus of the Vaisnava Renaissance of Assam. She has thus carved a niche in the Sattriya Dance world with her outstanding performances drawing applause and appreciation from both the media and the cognoscenti and established an unfailing record of excellence in her performance career. Recently, she has been awarded with the prestigious Kalajeeva Puraskar, from School Of Theatre Arts, Vizag, for her expertise in the field.

LIVE needs a NEW definition

The concept of playing live for a virtual audience has finally arrived in India. Webcerts, as these concerts are called, have within a very short space of time become an instant rage amongst the country’s digital audience, primarily because of its ability to bring to life the magic of live performances right in front of your desktop or lappy!

The first webcert, which was conceived and organized by popular web portal Artist Aloud a couple of months back, featured Shibani Kashyap as the main act and who was preceded by an opening act of Nakash Sargam. The event was streamed live on the music portal’s website, targeting a global online community of music lovers all over the country and the world.

As a concept, webcerts are truly unique. Though live broadcasting or streaming of performances over the net is nothing new, India has till now never seen a complete concert being streamed live into the internet. Besides enabling the performers to reach a much wider range of fans spread over a big area, webcerts have become an instant hit among urban audiences because of the minimum of hassles involved. So if you ever wanted to watch your favourite artiste perform live and did not have the money or time to buy a ticket or brave the journey to the venue, do not worry for there is a much more easier alternative at hand. With webcerts, all you need is a computer and a broadband internet connection!

Soumini Paul of Artist Aloud feels that webcerts are well on its way to becoming the rage in the country. “Live performances have become a regular occurrence with local performances achieving easier popularity at the regional level. The WebCert is just an extension in the sense that it gives the consumer the opportunity to experience great performances even without being physically present in front of the artist. Today’s consumer wants entertainment to come to him rather than him having to go to it.”

But despite the flexibility of time and space offered by webcerts, lack of infrastructural support might prove to be a major constraint. One can take the instance of Northeast India which, despite having a highly vibrant music industry, lacks the required infrastructure as the internet is yet to fully penetrate into the rural areas. Soumini agrees, “Our biggest hurdle is definitely infrastructural support. However, having said that, our aim is to provide a seamless viewing experience for those who have access to a PC and a good Internet connection,” says Paul.

But senior Guwahati-based drummer Ambar Das feels that connectivity shouldn’t be such a big issue as there are “many netizens in the Northeast” which can make for a sizeable audience. At the same time he lays stress on the initial impressions, “This concept can be viable, but only if the first impressions are good and good artists and bands are showcased.” Since the first webcert with Shibani Kashyap, bands like Parikrama have also had their own exclusive digital concerts, playing live in front of thousands of net-goers all over the country.

Techno stuff aside, whether these digital performances can manage to strike the emotional chord the same way a live performance can remains a big question mark. According to Oliver Rai, the programme officer of Shilpgram in Guwahati where live performances are held frequently, it is time the regional musicians moved ahead. As he says, “The Northeast is musically advanced. In our experience we believe webcerts will work well, especially because in Northeast India both musicians and music lovers are evolved. There is a lot of talent in the Northeast that needs to be tapped. Concepts like WebCert would help these artists present themselves not only within India but globally and help them build a fan base.” In a region where musicians have long faced discrimination, there is no end to the possibilities.

Ambar, who has now shifted to Mumbai due to the paucity of avenues in the Northeast for musicians, adds in a similar vein, “If this cocept works out, the possible benefits for musicians and bands are endless; right from procuring gigs in proper venues to landing record deals.”

With the independent music industry in the Northeast yet to receive the much needed impetus, webcerts might very well be the answer musicians here are looking for!

SNAPSHOTS

Technical apparatus required
– A PC/Laptop and a good internet connection

Cost involved

For the organizers- The cost involved includes bandwidth cost, sound, light, production and camera crew and of course artist fee.
For the consumer there is no cost.