Song of Surrender

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Archive of Contemporary Music to spotlight India

By Shuchita Rao

B George, Director, ARC
Can you imagine 5,000 Bhangra dancers in a massive dance procession on the streets of New York City celebrating Indian music, dance, culture and spirit?  Well-known Bhangra D. J. Rekha will kick-start “India Music Week” (IMW) on October 6th at 5 pm on pier 15, South Street Seaport in NYC. The India Music Week (IMW) project, directed by B. George and assisted by Dr. Brian Q. Silver is an effort by the New York-based organization, the ARChive of Contemporary Music (ARC), to popularize Indian music and culture this year on a global scale.  

Now in its 28th year, ARC has the largest collection of popular music in the world, with more than two million recordings, including numerous world music discs, and has catalogued more than 25,000 Asian Indian recordings from all around the world.  ARC has had great success in two previous projects—Muslim Music Day 2011 (muslimworldmusicday.com) and Brazilian Music Day 2012 (brazilianmusicday.org) with participation and response from all over the globe. Future ‘Weeks’ will explore the music and culture of Scandinavia (2014), Cuba (2015), Louisiana (2016) and China (2017).

India Music Week will be a worldwide event, both actual and virtual, turning the spotlight on Indian music and culture. Among other challenging and creditable goals, it will attempt to create the world record for the largest Bhangra Dance for the Guinness book of World Records. Partners for the Bhangra event include Molecule Communications and The Association of Indians in America, New York Chapter.

India Music Week will publicize musical events occurring from 6 October through 13 October all over the world on a new ARC Website, www.IndiaMusicWeek.org, to be posted in the beginning of October, which will be freely available to all. Columbia University, Gracenote, The Internet Archive and Incredible Labs, among others, will support the effort.  The ARC aims to educate a global audience about various facets of Indian music, and will offer online a range of resources and links, all highlighting the importance and beauty of Indian music through the comprehensive IMW Website, (www.IndiaMusicWeek.org). This website will constitute the largest online reference resource for Indian music, serving as a database for individuals and institutions, including universities and music schools, recording companies, publications, and organizations and institutions promoting Indian music, as well as the various genres of Indian music and Indian classical and folk instruments.

The current IMW Project blog is at http://www.indianmusicweek.wordpress.com/

Shuchita Rao, Sruti magazine’s US Correspondent, interviewed the director of ARC, Mr. B. George.

When was ARC started and what was the mission?

ARC was started in 1985 with a mission to collect, preserve and provide information on the popular music of all cultures and races throughout the world from 1945 to the present day.

What is your role at ARC and how would you like ARC to grow, develop and evolve over the next decade?
I am the current director and co-founder. Our goal is to move beyond our American Popular Music collections, now the largest in the world, and make sure we are preserving as much music from other cultures as possible. Ideally we would move from preservation to a center where all the music could be listened to and enjoyed.

Does ARC provide free audio/ video recordings and articles relating to art to people all over the world? 

We do not provide free audio/video recordings to the general public. Our services are now music industry based and material is only available to the right owners.

How does ARC help artists?
We help artists by preserving their work and aiding in research projects for publications, use of their music in films, and the re-issue of their materials from original recordings in our collection. Our music 'days' and 'weeks' are part of our outreach to the general public, providing links to the work of thousands of musicians.

You spent a year in India in 1970. What did you take away from the time spent there?

I was on a year-long independent study programme through the University of Michigan, primarily studying ephemeral art and drawing, with three months spent in Benares photographing the burning ghat ritual. This caused my attraction to the culture and a life-long love of Indian music.

What are your hopes and expectations from ARC's India Music Week(IMW) project to be held between Oct 6 and 13 this year?

Our goal is to let people around the world learn more about all forms of music from india - that there is more to the music than Ravi Shankar and Bollywood. Of course we want people to have fun, and that is the main reason for the inauguration of IMW with  Bhangra dance. We would love more participation from India. So far it is the expatriate community that has been most helpful. We are surprised that none of the successful Indian Corporations or the mainstream music industry has offered assistance, except the independent record companies. When the project is over we would like to turn it over to an institution or business in India to maintain and grow. Regardless we will keep the site up permanently. Our main purpose is to celebrate the importance and beauty of Indian music.

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