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India is more than just a country. It has a history that extends generations prior to the modern age, it was imbued with a multifaceted array of ideologies. Countless Hindu and Buddhist temples have been erected and rampaged throughout the great empires, while mass migrations of varying ethnicities wrought change through their rich and diverse cultures, imprinting a figurative marking of their musical traditions. It is apparent that under British colonization in the 18th century, both the East and the West were introduced to disparate and novel forms of musical styles. Throughout the years, these styles and techniques were fused and transformed into modern pop music, or more noticeably, Indian pop music of the recent decade. This was the crux of the October 3rd lecture, when we were introduced to Bollywood, where “Hollywood meets Bombay,” and likewise, learned about how traditional Indian instruments exerted a great influence on contemporary western music.

The two assigned articles provided me with a gist of knowledge before coming into lecture. In the article, “Ghazals to Bhangra in Great Britain,” the author mentioned “absorbing and indianizing alien elements” (Banjeri 207). This is quite similar to Indonesia, where Dutch colonization and foreign tourists engendered a movement of westernization towards traditional gamelan music. Javanese pop music, especially “Campur Sari,” includes synthesizers while maintaining the style of Javanese gamelan. The same thing could be said about Alaap’s recordings of Punjabi folksongs, in which the “synthesizers and drum machines appealed enormously to young South Asians” (Banjeri 208). As an adolescent, I can relate to this “appeal” and view this as a positive movement that allows overseas Indians to explore areas outside of their niche.

The article, “Bolly’hood Re-mix” also demonstrates the integration of Eastern and Western cultures, but in the reverse direction. It is unfortunate that certain R&B songs, such as “React,” misrepresents South Asian traditions and seems to breed more ignorance. As Raj Beri says, “this contributes to the public’s lack of knowledge about the regions-evidenced by how South Asian Sikhs and Arabs are all the same in America’s eyes” (Miller 7). At first, I was rather torn as to how to react to such controversy, but I eventually agreed with the author’s ultimate message that “the flow of Indian sounds and samples into hip hop, and the flow of hip hop culture into the Indian American community has created a critical crossroads” (Miller 15). Disagreements are bound to occur whenever there is change. I’ve always believed that acceptance of new ideas allows societies to progress. Although the messages behind the lyrics are questionable, I genuinely admire the artists’ dedication towards the collaboration effort. The fact the band, Truth Hurts, was not dissuaded from the lawsuit and various criticisms shows there is hope for future songs and further collaborations. It is understandable that there are imperfections, but as long as people are willing to accept and learn about ideas different than their own, modern-day hip-hop has a lot of potential to serve as a means to combine differing cultures and ideologies.

During the October 3rd lecture, we were shown the music videos, “Chaiyya-Chaiyya,” from the film “Dil Se,” and “Kudi-Kudi,” by Jasbir Jassi. While listening to the music, the first thing that came to mind was that Indian pop music bears an incredibly uncanny resemblance to Indonesian pop music. The synthesizers that provided a contemporary touch, the usage of traditional instruments all seemed too familiar. Memories of the September 17th lecture flooded through my mind as I recalled Goyang Inul’s controversial music video, in which she defies traditional Islamic roles. Professor Byl mentioned that Inul was notorious for her “hip shaking” in dangdut music. Similarly, women in the film “Dil Se” were not dressed modestly either, which somewhat surprised me, but then I realized that modernization is inevitable. My initial perception of Hindu and Islamic religions were fairly conservative, but I’ve previously failed to discern the differences between 21st century women and women of the past centuries. It was an extremely thought-provoking moment, seeing as to how music evolved through the integration of diametrically opposing cultures. The wardrobe was more provocative than my original expectations of South Asian customs, but at the same time, it allowed me to realize the profound impacts of globalization. Afterwards, we were shown a music video of “Kudi Kudi,” which incorporates similar instrumental styles as those of western music, with extremely upbeat rhythms, but there is still a noticeable sitar and tabla in the melody. I enjoyed listening to both these songs, because they seemed to emit so much energy and vigor. Perhaps I share the same musical tastes as Indian adolescents, the scene of everyone dancing on the train in “Dil Se” held tremendous appeal for me. It was such a creative way to combine Eastern and Western styles into a single song.

Through the readings, listening, and lecture, it is evident that India underwent an insurmountable amount of change in its history, and still continues to thrive today as a country full of splendor. It is both old and new, as seen through the musical elements of modern pop. South Asia has experienced an extraordinary amount of outside influences, many of which fostered growth in musical traditions. Years of colonization, immigration, and tourism caused a movement towards westernized Indian music, at the same time, these songs retained much of their traditional instrumental styles. It is equally accurate to say that India impacted Western music to a comparable extent. Without this mutual relationship, R&B, hip hop, and pop music would not be the same as they are today.
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