The traditional music culture is closely knit with nature. The music sings its praises and also warns of its fury. As societies moved towards urbanisation, ethnic music started taking a backseat. Traditional music now requires preservation. Abhinav Agrawal is labouring for this cause through his Non-Profit organisation ‘Anahad Foundation’ in New Delhi.
“Since my childhood I always wanted to bring back the lost traditional music culture. I thought by doing so I could bring back nature,” said the ethnomusicologist.
A trained classical musician, Abhinav wants to live the dream of his Gurus. They dreamt of recording a song in a studio. Not for fame or fortune but to get an identity and see their ideas get tantalised. But the high recording costs meant the music of these gurus died along with them.
“Though the technology was advancing, the affordability factor was amiss,” quipped Abhinav.
Preserving the traditional music culture
With an aim to preserve the music and empower the traditional musicians, Abhinav founded ‘Anahad’. Most organisations which work with folk musicians follow a live music event model as it helps the artists earn a livelihood. Live music events are a chief source of income for artists across genres, maybe contributing upwards of 3/4 th of their income. There are hardly any organisation that empower traditional musicians through this sector.
“My hypothesis is that the recording sector works as a supply chain. The live music sector caters to the supply through demand. Without the recording sector the live music sector will not grow,” said Abhinav.
The folk and traditional musicians are majorly deprived of the recording sector. This leads to them having no digital identity and leaving them reliant on the live shows for their income. These musicians are branded by the name of their community and not known individually. Their music is acknowledged but personal identity is lost.
“The recording sector psychologically empowers a musician as it is every musicians dream to get their music recorded. So I opened up a studio which was free for all the folk musicians. That concept failed like anything,” smiled Abhinav.
A lot of factors contributed to this failure. The artists do not vision music as their primary source of income. Their apprehension due to lack of education is a major reason along with abject poverty are a few of them.
Taking the studio to the musicians
“It was my dream to provide these musicians free recording facilities. So I thought if they cannot come to the studio, the studio has to go to them,” said Abhinav.
He rearranged his strategy. Abhinav started visiting them in their natives with basic recording equipment. The first artist he recorded was Dapu Khan in Jaisalmer. After the sound recording, he filmed a couple of videos of his and set up a website for him. Abhinav printed some business cards for him and asked to give it to anyone who tips him for his performance. This helped him get more than five shows, including one in Germany, within three months.
“The concept was to empower folk musicians by creating a digital identity for them through production technology” asserted Abhinav.
‘Anahad Foundation’ follows basic selection criteria. Depending upon the rarity of the art form, the musical instrument and of the tribe or caste the selection process is followed. As most artists from traditional music culture do not have a sustainable source of income, priority is given to artists who are below the poverty line.
Entering the Forbes -30 Under 30 art category
Abhinav has been selected in this year’s ‘Forbes-30 Under-30’ art category of Asia for his work with his foundation. ‘Anahad’ is a non-profit organisation based on a philanthropic model. The foundation is working on building revenue streams to self-sustain. They are starting with an artist management wing.
“The challenge is to make these folk artists export ready. We will groom them on how to be a complete musician,” said Abhinav.
The organisation is also starting two community studios, one each in Barmer and Jaisalmer. The studios will be a centre for artists to learn sound design and production. ‘Anahad’ will also act as a publishing and distribution agency for them.
“Hopefully my selection in this year’s ‘Forbes 30- Under 30’ will make people more aware of us. Maybe people will take ‘Anahad’ more seriously now and not label us as just another foundation started by a youngster,” hopes Abhinav.