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Rescued from the Synthesizer

A.R. Rahman

Global Digital Classical

The Telegraph Calcutta

Indians, according to A.R. Rahman, have to be rescued from the synthesizer. But they could be brought back to it once they are musically better educated. No one would know better than Rahman the complex relationships among music, entertainment, digital technology and globalization, particularly in the context of contemporary film-music. But in all this postmodern music-making, what is the place of the Classical? This seems to be the idea, question and problem at the heart of Rahman's new brainwave – the KM Music Conservatory at Chennai and the national symphony orchestra that would come out of it.

Calling it a "conservatory" suggests a rigorous education in classical music in the Western mode. And this is what Rahman wants to initiate with both singers and instrumentalists, according to proper international standards. But he is equally interested in teaching his students state-of-the-art music technology, and how to "market" themselves professionally. The other synthesis he wants to bring about is in teaching both Western and Indian classical music in this conservatory. So, what his symphony orchestra will play, and what the newly trained composers will compose for it, would be not only Western classical music, but also more hybrid work incorporating elements of both traditions, and then "modernizing" each in different ways. The significant thing here is that Rahman sees a proper grounding in the classical traditions as essential for such forms of musical synthesis.

Read more about this at the Telegraph Calcutta website: