It is often said that when words fail, music speaks. A universal language of mankind, music transcends barriers and is a force that gives life to literally everything. Today, 21-Jun is World Music Day; a day that is an ode to the power and magic of music.
And one place that celebrates all things music is the unique Indian Music Experience (IME) situated in Bangalore. A haven for music lovers, musicians, students, researches or anyone with just a ear for music, IME is India’s first interactive music museum. An initiative of the Indian Music Experience Trust, a non-profit public charitable organization, supported by the Brigade Group, this one provides visitors an enriching experience and a slice of India’s vast music heritage. From the traditional to the contemporary, from classical music to film songs to instruments and even a chance to make your own music, IME has something for everyone.
Music can change the world – Ludwig van Beethoven
Located within the sprawling Brigade Millennium Avenue, IME is spread over three floors and over 50,000 sq feet. The exhibits are displayed over a whopping nine galleries. Before you actually enter in, there is a rather intriguing display that includes stone installations, chimes, tubular bells, xylophones, gongs and the like. Well, this is the very interesting sound garden which gives visitors a chance to explore various sound patterns, melodies and vibrations. Made from a variety of materials ranging from stone to metal, these installations treat visitors to a plethora of sounds when they either tap on it or just run their fingers through it. A favorite with adults and kids alike, the Sound Garden is the perfect place to begin your “musical” journey!
Carefully curated with immense attention to detail, the exhibits at IME which include information boards, photographs, models, instruments and artwork are extremely insightful to say the least. The first gallery is all about contemporary expressions and explores the world of independent aka indie music. It elucidates the history, evolution and nuances of music created outside the Indian film industry and explores how indie music draws inspiration from various influences ranging from rock to Indian classical and even folk. The displays include information on iconic bands, landmark albums and on some pioneers of world music. Do not miss the colorful and quirky autorickshaws as well as Daler Mehndi’s costume here. You can also create your own music mix and listen to its sound.
The next gallery is all about living traditions and traces the origins of Indian classical music including its timeline. The elements of Carnatic as well as Hindustani music is explained in a manner that is lucid yet comprehensive. The gallery also traverses the evolution of the Bhakti movement and highlights the contribution of renowned musicians like Thyagaraja, Shyama Sastri and Muthuswami Dikshitar. The subsequent galleries cover the India’s diverse folk music heritage that is intrinsically linked with specific communities and regions.
The section on songs at work, songs for celebrations, festivals etc. is particularly interesting. Do not miss the intricately done murals and puppet displays that manage to keep visitors hooked for more. The galleries related to the colonial influences on Indian music, the history and evolution of musical instruments such as the harmonium and violin are informative. The section dedicated to the display of over 100 playing instruments which include some rare pieces is arguably a highlight of the museum.
The galleries manage to cover the entire gamut and multiple genres of music including music made during the freedom movement, songs of struggle and protest and the element of patriotism in music. There is an entire section on film music including information of landmarks, legends and also one on how music has been produced and recorded right from the days of the gramophone, LPs and the mobile phones today.
From priceless memorabilia like Pandit Bhimen Joshi’s paan box and shawl to Ustad Bismillah Khan’s cap to plenty of photo opportunities, interactive displays and ‘try it yourself’ kiosks, the Indian Music Experience sure forms for a memorable visit.
For more of SEEMA’s world of music, you might enjoy Avanti Nagral’s story