‘Fete de la Musique’-‘Music Day’, 21 June Every Year!
The Fête de la Musique’, also known as Make Music Day or World Music Day is happening 21 June Every Year! Observing this day today, my memories go back to the 80′ and 90’s, while being the president of Rock Society-Mangaluru, a entertainment organization, I feel proud to say that Rock Society was the first to introduce International rock bands to Mangaluru like- the All girls band from England ‘Girlschool’, ‘Bootleg Beatles’ from UK, ‘Osibisa’- a b\ritish Afro-Pop band, ‘Gnats’ from UK and others-also Rock Society was the first one to bring India’s top rock band then-Rock Machine’ (now named as “Indus Creed’) to Mangaluru four times, also brought rock bands like 13 AD from Cochin; Muzik Mann, The Cascades, and others from Goa. Mangaluru simply rocked during the 80’s and 90’s on “World Music Day’. Sadly, with the interference of saffron group these days, Mangaluru lacks the fun of open-air concerts, music-n-dance etc .
Mangaluru: Do you know what day it is today? Yeah, we all know it is International Yoga Day. But there is another special occasion that is celebrated today. It is Fete de la Musique; that, or you can just say World Music Day. While we all agree (well, almost all) that Yoga is very beneficial, it wouldn’t harm much to steal some attention away from Yoga Day and look back to interesting history of music in India: How about the Rock Culture? June 21 has been designated as World Music Day, a day the world celebrates the magical gift of music. It’s origins lie in France when, in 1976, American musician Joel Cohen, proposed an all-night music celebration to mark the beginning of the summer solstice and since then, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with over 32 countries worldwide having their own celebrations in their own way, regardless of the season.
It is a day of free music, where musicians – local and amateur – are allowed and encouraged to perform their music in public spaces without any restriction. Although we have a curfew for music to stopped by 11pm, it’s a fabulous day to celebrate the spirit of music in all its forms. The day is celebrated to promote peace and spread goodwill through music. World Music Day is celebrated in Argentina, Australia, Britain, Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland, Costa Rica, China, India, Lebanon and several other countries. Since India is a land of diversity with varied cultures, every region which has its own unique musical form celebrate the day to continue the eternal tradition of music.
History of World Music Day:
In October 1981, Maurice Fleuret became Director of Music and Dance at Minister of Culture Jack Lang’s request, and applied his reflections to the musical practice and its evolution: “the music everywhere and the concert nowhere”. When he discovered, in a 1982 study on the cultural habits of the French, that five million people, one child out of two, played a musical instrument, he began to dream of a way to bring people out on the streets. It first took place in 1982 in Paris as the Fête de la Musique.
Ever since, the festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 700 cities in 120 countries, including Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the United States, and Japan.
All Girl Rock Band ‘Girlschool’ from England that Rocked Mangaluru in 1985
British Afro-Pop group ‘Osibisa’ played in M’luru in 1987
British Tribute Band ‘The Bootleg Beatles’ performed in M’luru in 1989
Fete de la Musique’s purpose is to promote music in two ways:
Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets, under the slogan “Faites de la musique” (“make music”, a homophone of Fête de la Musique).
Many free concerts are organized, making all genres of music accessible to the public. Two of the caveats to being sanctioned by the official Fête de la Musique organization in Paris are that all concerts must be free to the public, and all performers donate their time for free. This is true of most participating cities, now, as well.
Despite there being a large tolerance about the performance of music by the general public of amateurs in public areas after usual hours, the noise restrictions still apply, and can cause some establishments to be forbidden to open and broadcast music out of their doors without prior authorization.
When did Rock Culture all begin in India?
Rock culture isn’t a newborn in India. When the world was listening to The Beatles and The Rolling stones in the 60s, Indian Rock rolled into the picture with the Raga Rock; a style of music which involves the fusion of western with Indian music. Back in the day, bands that played rock music in India where known as beat groups. In the 60’s and early 70’s, bands like the Thunderbirds, Mystiks, Beat-X, and Flintstone made there mark in this genre. Singers like Ashwani Bali and Usha Uthup also being known names for their covers. Around this time, well-known western bands began producing music that had heavy influence of Indian classical music. While George Harrison made Norwegian Wood in 1965, The Beatles came up with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967.
Rock Machine (now named as ‘Indus Creed’ ) from Mumbai
Rock Band ’13 AD ‘ from Cochin
Where did it go from there?
Rock music had already trickled into the Bollywood numbers by the 70s. Composers dared to try this style, and the audience embraced it willingly. However, music was still limited to All India Radio, therefore, the audience was also small. Indian musicians were going beyond fusing rock with traditional Indian music and making independent rock numbers, but this style of music was still somewhat overshadowed by ‘filmi’ songs. This is when Moheener Ghoraguli, an independent Bengali band from Kolkata, started up and dared the tune of full-fledged rock. Moheener Ghoraguli is arguably the first rock band in India, though they only made music in Bengali.
And then, came the 80’s…
The first non-vernacular Indian rock band came into being in 1984, christening themselves as Rock Machine. Their first album, Rock and Roll Renegade, hit the shelves in 1988, mirroring their influence from Def Leppard, Deep Purple, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake etc. In 1993, Rock Machine renamed themselves as Indus Creed. Indus Creed is a rock group based in Mumbai, India. It was founded in 1984 as Rock Machine and renamed in 1993, and includedUday Benegal (vocals), Mark Selwyn (bass), Mahesh Tinaikar (guitars), Zubin Balaporia (keyboards), Mark Menezes (Drums) and Jayesh Gandhi (guitars). It disbanded in 1997, only to regroup in 2010 with some new members. I still feel proud to say that, as a president of Rock Society-Mangalore in 1980’s/1990’s I was the first one to bring Rock Machine four times to Mangaluru- and Rock Society also brought the first international bands to Mangalore namely all-girl Rock band ‘Girlschool’, ‘Bootleg beatles'[, ‘Osibissa’ , ‘Gnats’ etc.
The rocking magic continued…
With the arrival of MTV in the early 90s, Indian music lovers finally got a huge exposure to the new genres of music coming into being. The television now played things like rock, trash metal, grunge, punk etc. and none of them got spurned by the young listeners. Upcoming musicians in India were encouraged by this change of taste, and they tried their hands in new styles. India also got its first magazine dedicated to Indian rock music in 1993, Rock Street Journal, led by Amit Saigal. This also happens to be the time when bands like Parikrama, Motherjane, Indian Ocean,Cassini’s Division, Skinny Alley, Pseudonym, Hobos, Agnee etc. came into being. Parikrama touched hearts with their hit number But It Rained in 1996, which was dedicated to the kidnappings in the Kashmir Valley around this time. Meanwhile, Cochin-based Motherjane became the first rock band from India to have its songs play on an international circuit.
And it still rocks…
Rock culture has now permeated into the lives of Indian audience far and wide. Be it regionally, on a national level or in movies, music composers throw in a dash of rock and punk fearlessly. And most of the time, it comes out great. There are now online platforms upholding the glory of Indian rock, like NH7, Headbangers India, IndianMusicMug, Unholy Maunder, IndianMusicRevolution, Indian Metal Scene etc. But be it a digital medium, your iPod, your father’s radio set or your grandma’s gramophone, music is just as wonderful. And rock will always rock. So, Happy World Music Day!
Note: Inputs from Music World Inc