Not insurgency, but music rules the roost in Nagaland!


Moving on with this new episode on the state of the independent music industry in Northeast India, let us look at the state of affairs in Nagaland – undoubtedly the most vibrant State in the entire country as far as music is concerned. The Naga stalemate in the form of the talks between the NSCN (IM) and the Indian union may have resulted in a stalemate, stretching on for more than 13 years now, but that has not stopped the blooming of a pulsating music environment in this interior state.

Besides being home to the “mother of all insurgent outfits”, as a political commentator had once commented, Nagaland also has the proud distinction of having an entire governmental department dedicated to the promotion and development of music in the State – the Music Task Force (MTF) – the first in the entire country. One of the biggest achievements of the MTF is the successful hosting of the annual Hornbill Rock contest, which over the years, with a prize money of around Rs. 10 lakhs, has become the most sought after competition for rock bands of the country.

The following is a brief take on the scene there:

1. Major cities: Dimapur, Kohima

2. Population: 1,990,036 people (According to 2001 census)

3. Major language: English, Nagamese, Hindi

4. Radio stations: AIR

5. Telecom operators and subscriber figures:

6. Popular television channels: A number of operators run their own cable networks. Naga cable, City cable, Global Chapter are the popular ones.

7. Music stores: Lot of music stores can be found dotted over the landscape of Dimapur and Kohima. In Dimapur, most of the parlours are concentrated in Super Market and Hong Kong market area. Dimapur also has the only retail outlet of Furtados in the Northeast.

8. List of popular local talents – Artistes, composers, lyricists, musicians.

• Nise Meruno – Composer and pianist
• Abiogenesis – Experimental Rock band
• Lipokmar – Founder of Chancel Choir
• Theja Meru – Musician and founder of Rattle n Hum society
• Dr. Tekatemjen Jamir – Pioneering Ao sound composer
• Alemtemshi – Composer
• Methanelie – Composer and singer
• Melodrama – Rock band
• Dementia – Rock band
• XTC – Rock band
• OFF – Rock band
• Divine Connection – Rock band

9. Venues for live performance and whether the State has a culture of live music: DDSC stadium and the NEZCC ground in Dimapur, Indira Gandhi stadium and local football ground in Kohima are the main venues for major live performances in Nagaland. The IMC Lobby and Town Hall is also another favourite venue for shows in Dimapur, while the State Academy Hall is a favourite venue in Kohima. A lot of gigs and concerts are also held regularly in music cafes and lounges, the prominent among them being Dream Cafe in Kohima, Jumping Bean Cafe and Cafe Hiyo in Dimapur.

10. Major local music labels: APH Records

11. Local organizations for the promotion or appreciation of music

• Music Task Force
• Rattle and Hum Music Society
• Mindblowers Club
• Robust Network
• Native Rising Network
• Mokokchung District Art and Culture Council
• Abiogenesis society

12. Genres of music that sell here: Rock, Gospel, pop, country, choir, Hip-hop. Gospel and rock music would top the charts in Nagaland each and every time. The State also has a good choral culture.

13. Studios or recording facilities: Most of the studios are located inside Dimapur. Some of the better known studios are Crescendo, Soul Speak studios, Gospel studio and Aries Music Foundation.

14. Unique facets:

– The Nagas are also wonderful singers and dancers, having a wonderful sense of rhythm. Their traditional festivals and ceremonies are usually incomplete without a heavy dose of traditional folk songs and dances. In fact, music is an integral part of life here; whether it is the folk songs eulogising the brave deeds of warriors or poetic love songs immortalising ancient tragic love stories; be it Gospel songs that touch your soul or the modern rock ‘n’ roll tunes –– music truly defines life in Nagaland.

– Music runs in the veins of the Nagas. So much so that the State Government became the first government of the country to dedicate an entire government department for the promotion and development of music. Scholarship schemes, music development workshops and seminars and courses in college, contests, etc are some of the initiatives of this task force.

– The Hornbill national Rock contest, organized as part of the week-long Hornbill festival of Nagaland, is one of the biggest initiatives of the Music Task Force. The Hornbill National Rock Contest is the biggest rock event in the country, having a total amount of Rs. 10 lakh as prize money.

15. Organizer, music promoter or label guy who is in the news

Akum Jamir, who is a musician himself and guitarist of XTC, runs Crescendo – one of the best music instruments shop in Dimapur. He also provides the sound gear for most live performances in the State. Theja Meru of the Rattle ‘n’ Hum Music Society organizes the Handshake concert in different parts of the country, wherein folk artistes and musicians from the Northeast perform to audiences in the mainland.


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 February 8, 2011, in Concerts/ Reviews, Day-to-Day and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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