Looking for all things music under a single roof? Welcome to The Indian Music Experience (IME)- an entire museum dedicated to Indian music in J P Nagar, Bangalore South. A project under the aegis of Carnatic classical vocalist- Manasi Prasad , Veena artiste- Dr. Suma Sudhindra and supported by real estate magnums; The Brigade Group.
StageCulture in conversation with Manasi Prasad:
How did the idea for IME come about?
“In 2008, the Brigade group formed a non-profit trust; the Indian Music Experience Trust. The trust approached me to help set up an arts center, a museum of sorts. I was quite inspired by the lively, fun, interactive, and educational museums abroad. For instance, take the Experience Music Project in Seattle. What started off as a collection of Jimmy Hendrix memorabilia is today a complete experience. I felt the concept had a lot of potential in the Indian context. Based on this idea, we created a program. Exhibits one could walk around, look at, but which also had a strong learning component. A vibrant musical hub, catering to everyone, young children, especially.”
What is your vision for IME?
“We want to provide an equal platform for all kinds of music from the traditional to the contemporary. A museum that does not focus on only one style. A place which engages and educates people about the sheer diversity of music in our country.”
Tell me about the museum; the exhibits and installations
“There are three main parts of the Indian Music Experience:
The first is the exhibits which is the heart of the museum.
The second area is the Sound Garden. We have 11 installations. Sculptures of instruments, like the gong, the xylophone blown up to larger size. Made completely of natural materials like wood, stone & metal. By striking these materials which are pre-tuned, one can play a musical instrument without necessarily being trained.
For example we have a reed installation, where we have created a musical railing. Simply running your hand across the railing will produce sound. All this to give a sort of musicality to the building, and to the environment as a whole.
The third part of the IME is the already-functional learning center, with five classrooms, a seminar hall and a library. We offer classes throughout the week in music of various disciplines.
Other than this, we have a mini-theatre, a café which opens next month, and a gift store too.”
“During the past 4-5 years we have put together the content of the museum. The musicians we want to feature, the kind of music we want to have and how we want to tell the stories. Some are told through exhibits, some through storyboard panels.
For example we have audio-visual kiosks. So when you’re going through the gallery dedicated to the freedom struggle & the role music played in it, besides reading the story you can also listen to the famous songs of patriotism- gain a full experience!
In our History of Recording Gallery we aim to show how music technology has changed over the generations. We have a small recording studio where you can record a karaoke track, and listen to it played back through different eras.”
Why we need a museum like this?
“The level of engagement with music is not as high as it should be. We rarely dig deeper and try to look into the makers of the music, and the stories behind iconic songs we love.
Music has a very beneficial impact on our minds, especially in the young ones. Didactic music classes spend so much time on theory right in the beginning that they sap the enthusiasm out of young ones. We want to make a space which introduces music to children in a really fun and engaging way.
Many folk forms of music are endangered. Very few people bother learning or practicing them anymore. It’s very important to have platforms that present the diversity of music that India has to offer.”
Long Term Goals
“We expect to have 5 lakh visitors every year. We hope for schools and enthusiastic students to get involved.
We already conduct regular seminars and workshops at the learning center. We plan to regularly screen brilliant documentaries about music and musicians.
Our ultimate vision is for Bangalore to be the arts’ destination of the country. We aim to create a generation of young people who care deeply about the arts, and who will support the arts either by becoming artistes themselves, connoisseurs or donors.”
You want to #GetMore of
“I want to get more support, get more visibility. Of course, we also want to get more money! We want to get more people talking, more awareness and enthusiasm about the center. That would go a long way.”