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Assam on song

A group of Assamese dancers perform Jhumur, the dance form associated with tea gardens
A group of Assamese dancers perform Jhumur, the dance form associated with tea gardens

Asam, known for its picturesque river basins and tea gardens in and around the Brahmaputra Valley, is steeped in the arts with music occupying a special place. The sounds change with every region. There is Jhumur dance (associated with tea gardens), Bihu (the celebrated folk dance and music) and Kamrupi lokgeet (music from the Kamrup district) to name a few. Amid the melodies, there also lies a rich tradition of folk tales and folklore. “I used to listen to a lot of stories from my grandmother, both fictional as well as mythological,” recalls singer Joi Barua, who hails from Jorhat. The 39-year-old didn’t take the Bihu route to come under spotlight. He stuck to his Rock sound, but wrote songs based on those old stories.

Singer Joi Barua borrows from traditional folk tales of Assam and incorporates them in his music. Pic/Nimish Jain
Singer Joi Barua borrows from traditional folk tales of Assam and incorporates them in his music. Pic/Nimish Jain

Barua, who juggles between working in films (including regional projects) and making independent music, will present a set of stories in the form of music with his band, Joi, at the Living Traditions concert that celebrates the northeastern state.

“We are a Rock band in the World Music space. We try to retell folklore, talk about the history of traditions as well as contemporary history through our songs. I also like to weave music around traditions still in practice,” shares Barua, who composed two songs sketching the antiquity of bareback horse races in Jorhat. The event, more than 100 years old, doesn’t allow jockeys to have a saddle or a stirrup. One of the compositions is Riders Of The Mist. “It talks about the origins of the races and the horses (there are many horses who are brought to the race from across the Brahmaputra River). There is another song on the same subject, called Pitol Soku. In Assamese, Pitol means brass and soku means eyes. It means a jockey with copper eyes. The song has a stadium-like vibe to it,” he explains.

On the other hand, the song Tejimola is about a girl who was tortured and beaten to death by her stepmother. “This is a story written in the early part of the last century. She is buried in the garden and a flower blossoms out of her grave one day. The story celebrates the girl in different forms,” says Barua, who was inspired to make original and independent music after listening to the stalwarts, Khagen Mahanta and Dr Bhupen Hazarika in his early days.

“I have grown up within the tradition of listening to music about the land, the rivers and the culture. My band will be presenting the same kind of music in the contemporary fashion. These songs shaped our state as well as our musical selves,” he reasons.

Barua’s music pays tribute to his homeland and Mumbai — his current work sphere. He has sung tracks like Dusokute (Margarita With A Straw), Dil Dhadakne Do (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) and Kahani Aankhon Ke Pardon Pe (Udaan) and more.

On: Today and March 19, 6.30 pm
At: NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 66223754
Cost: Rs 200 onwards

Documentary screenings
Three films — Land Of The Brahmaputra, Purwottar Ki Parwaz, and Satras and Namghars of Assam — will be screened at the curtain raiser. The first film (black and white) focuses on the river and how it helps the state reap rich harvests. The second traces the conservation of birds and the heritage of the Kaziranga forest while the last narrative illustrates the lives of two indigenous tribes.

Folk music
A contingent comprising musicians and dancers will showcase the rich folk music history of the state, including Borgeet (invocation of Krishna practised by the Vaishnava sect), Jhumur, Bihu and Kamrupi lokgeet.

Podcast like a pro

Podcasts - best described as audio shows you can play at your convenience on your smartphone - are now enjoying immense popularity in the US, and have begun picking steam in India, too. Earlier called audioblogging, podcasting became more commonplace only in the 2000s, with the introduction of broadband Internet and portable devices such as the iPod.

If you're interested in learning about this medium, head over to The Revolver Club for two workshops that will equip you with all the information you need to start producing your own audio podcasts.

The workshops, conducted by podcast experts Chhavi Sachdev and Dhaval Mehta, will take you through not just the basics of creating content, but also deal with radio etiquette, sound editing, distribution platforms, and how you can go about marketing your finished product.

Chhavi Sachdev
Chhavi Sachdev

Make it available
Chhavi Sachdev, who runs audio content and production house Sonologue, first began making podcasts back in 2008. "Smartphones weren't really around when I started. Recording a podcast involved a lot of effort, and only a diehard enthusiast would do it. Today, it is simpler once you learn the necessary skills," says Sachdev, who is a regular contributor to BBC and NPR podcasts.

At the upcoming workshop, she will touch on the basics of podcasting. "I'll begin with how you can fine-tune the kind of content you want to talk about, move on to what equipment to use, and how you can record and mix. Finally, I will discuss how you can distribute your podcast," adds Sachdev.

Dhaval Mehta
Dhaval Mehta

Make it visible
Dhaval Mehta, CEO of digital marketing agency DPM*Social, will follow this up with a workshop on podcast marketing. "Although I've been making podcasts since 2005, this is the first time I'm hosting a workshop on the subject," he says. Mehta will share his personal trade secrets on how he promoted various podcasts in non-traditional ways to gain listeners.

"Earlier, I used to email newsletters about my latest podcast to friends and family. It's a simple thing that worked. Today, getting your podcast to a larger audience would involve sharing it on social media platforms."

Interested folks may sign up for one or both workshops. All you need is your laptop, headphones and ideas for that path-breaking podcast.

ON: March 18, 10.30 am (Podcasting 101), 2.30 pm (Podcast Marketing 101)
AT: The Revolver Club, Fairlands Building, LJ Road, Mahim (W).
COST: Rs 2,500 (Podcasting 101), Rs 999 (Podcast Marketing 101)

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RD Burman composed for more than 300 films in a career spanning 30 years
RD Burman composed for more than 300 films in a career spanning 30 years

There has always been talk about originality in creative pursuits being an impossible feat. American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch had once blatantly remarked, “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.”

This weekend, a group of music enthusiasts is going to deconstruct the thin line between imitation and inspiration at a talk on Hindi film music. The works of RD Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan and OP Nayyar will be discussed at the event.

Shankar-Jaikishan ruled from 1949 to 1986
Shankar-Jaikishan ruled from 1949 to 1986

“Many tried to imitate a sound that worked well with listeners in that period. In fact, film producers would encourage music directors to do so. The music of Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji was close to the sound created by Shankar-Jaikishan and Burman,” says Ramesh KV, one of the speakers. “If you listen to the orchestration of a song, you will think it belongs to Burman, but it actually is by someone else,” he adds.

The full panel includes R Balaji, Shankar Iyer, Archisman Mozumder and Subramanian Iyer.

On: April 15, 7.30 pm
At: Pitaara – The Art Box, Yashwant Nagar, Goregaon (W).
Call: 9820393001
Entry: Rs 250

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