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Posted at: Feb 23, 2019, 1:25 AM; last updated: Feb 23, 2019, 1:25 AM (IST)MUSEUMS AND ARCHIVES ARE A WAY OF MAKING THE PAST RELEVANT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

A house for music

India’s first interactive music museum, Indian Music Experience, is an ode to all things musical

Bindu Gopal Rao

Daler Mehndi’s shiny blue velvet robe jostles for space with long play (LP) records here and Mahatma Gandhi’s letter finds a place along with rare musical instruments. Music reverberates in every corner here. Welcome to Indian Music Experience, India’s first interactive music museum.

IME is located in Bengaluru’s Brigade Millennium Enclave in JP Nagar. An initiative of the Indian Music Experience Trust, a non-profit public charitable Trust, supported by the Brigade Group is modelled on the lines of Seattle’s Experience Music Project. Founder MR Jaishankar says, “I have always believed that music and arts add value to our lives. When I visited the Experience Music Project in Seattle, I was inspired by the quality of architecture, design and displays on music and thought of creating something similar in India to introduce India’s rich cultural heritage to the next generation. We have built the museum as per international standards and are confident that it will become a prominent hub for tourists and music connoisseurs from around the world.”

Strike a note

Gallagher and Associates, world-renowned museum design firm, have created a flowy exterior facade that keeps the theme of music intact. The two-acre space has a built up area of 50,000 square foot in which the multi-storied museum is housed. The museum itself has three sections, a state-of-the-art interactive exhibit area, a sound garden and a learning centre. The outdoor sound garden serves as a perfect precursor to the actual museum and it is recommended to start your tour here. Unlike other museums that have a “do not touch” policy, this is a space where you can touch and feel the instruments and immerse yourself into their sounds and vibrations. 

There are handy instructions on how you can experience them so do follow the same. The Humming Stone, for instance, allows you to put your head into a cave-like structure and hum any sound and you can feel the vibrations through your body. Similarly, Singing Stones have grooves and you can move wet hands to hear different vibrations. There are other installations here, including a melody chime, sound wave, a mallet-based instrument, sound railing, spinner chime, tubular bells and a flower gong that allows you to tap each petal with a mallet. The storm drum at the entrance of the main building can actually mimic the sound of rumbling thunder.

Musical journey

The main exhibit area has eight thematic galleries, an instrument gallery and three mini theatres. Each gallery has interactive installations to allow guests to experience music and music making. Manasi Prasad, museum director, says, “The IME is perhaps the only place in the country where visitors can get a complete overview of the sheer amount of diversity of Indian music and culture. From classical music that is over 2,000 years old to the hybrid sounds of indie rock bands, the IME has a little something for everyone.”

Take a tour

The first gallery is called Contemporary Expressions and is designed like a marketplace complete with two auto rickshaws. It is an ode to the indie rock music of India. Daler Mehndi’s performance costume is also on display here. From here, head to the Living Traditions gallery that will decodes all kinds of music terminology from tala, gharana, dhrupad, sruti, raga, khayal and kutcheri. You can understand basic concepts of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music and hear musical concepts at the interactive stations here. In Songs of the People gallery, which is an ode to folk music, you can learn about the music of folk and tribal communities of India and also admire the mechanised puppet displays, folk art murals and the kaavad box.

The Melting Pot section is where you can learn about the history of musical instruments. The Instruments gallery has a double-height display of 108 musical instruments sourced from all parts of India. The ‘Songs of struggle’ gallery will stoke your patriotic side with over 35 versions of Vande Mataram, a replica of Mahatma Gandhi’s letter to MS Subbulakshmi and more. In the ‘Stories through Song’ section, you can browse through landmarks and legends of Hindi film music and also learn the history of recorded sound in India while you admire the rare phonograph and wax cylinder display.

In ‘The Stars’ gallery, hundred stalwarts of Indian music are featured and you can see some personal belongings of the Bharat Ratnas, including Bismillah Khan’s shehnai, MS Subbulakshmi’s tambura and Bhimsen Joshi’s attire.

Dr Suma Sudhindra, director Outreach, says, “This interactive music museum is an unfolding of the rich and diverse living culture of Indian music. Years of in-depth research have been married to contemporary design and state-of-the-art technology to create an offering that will be an institution and tourist attraction in the next one year.” A visit to the museum and you will realise that her words could not be truer.

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