Our Musical Journey – Then to Now Part 1

Music has always been a very integral part of the development of human existence. As many of us have observed since the day we got the privilege of experiencing this beautiful world of ours, this cultural phenomenon, since times immemorial, has undergone changes in the delivery of its content, the styles which were heavily influenced by the cultural and societal changes, the class of audience and the purpose of the music.

I am a 90’s kid and so, as most others can relate to, I came at a time when in India, the popularity of the pop culture had started to grow. Melodious compositions with appropriate lyrics formed the cusp of all that was there before the development of the pop culture. I didn’t understand how crucial this was as a transition then but now when I look back, it was practically the birth of the modern day music that we get to listen to through all the various digital channels most of us have access to nowadays.

If we try and analyze the music that we listen to nowadays, it has some characteristics of this music. Let’s analyze based on the four parts mentioned above.

Content Delivery :  Well of course there are so many platforms today by which an artist can deliver his music, most of them absolutely free to the end user. Some of the well known names are networks like Soundcloud,  music apps like Saavn, Gaana and Spotify. So the delivery mechanism is predominantly digital while events, pubs, bars and restaurants promote live delivery of music at a premium price.

Style:  In India it seems, new age  popular music by most independent artists is heavily influenced by the western instruments and culture, with few artists incorporating classical influences and blending it nicely with modern music. A huge divide is seen when it comes to classical and popular music. It’s as if the two cannot possibly intersect and the cause seems to be the next point below.

Class of Audience : The young generation is heavily influenced by the movie and pop music culture. As can be seen, artists who have are most often are wrecks in their private life are cult leaders and perceived messiahs for the young generation in public lives. Young minds are often try and emulate them and create their star’s kind of music. A majority of the Audience today likes music on which they can gyrate and dance to or that kind of music which reminds them of the emotional bond with their significant other ( The one in every other Bollywood movie).

Lyrical SignificanceThis one’s an obvious one. Though there are still a couple pf original lyrical maestros in our times, lyrical and poetic influences in lyrics have kind of faced a sad and exponential decline. From one line songs where there’s just one line that the rapper/singer repeats to music with electronic sounds interspersed with a few shouts, lyrical value seems to be lost in the crowds of modern day music lovers

Of course it’s not an altogether good or bad change, just a change like everything else. And it will continue to change beyond anyone’s control.

But what was the music like in the days when there was no Bollywood music being circulated, no Movies in theatres, none of the plethora of playback singers or music directors around? For there was a world of Music then wasn’t there?

Music those days was said to have been existing as two types :

  1. Desi Sangeet ( The Music for Masses ) 
  2. Margiya Sangeet ( The Music that showed the Way ) 

Desi Sangeet was nothing but the common people singing about their stories, adventures, tales, myths and lifestyles in a way that symbolized complete freedom from any fixed forms of rendering. It was that which appealed the masses and was simple yet aesthetically pleasing. Since here we talk explore how far reaching could the ‘then’ be in the ‘then and now’, here must have been a time before even that must have been known yes?

Of course and that is where we stumble upon the concept of Margiya Sangeet. Margiya music was a spiritual form of music were every syllable uttered was an offering to the governing power of this Universe. And it was known only to the very few enlightened people who had unravelled the secrets of this form. Music not just had an aesthetic and entertaining aspect to it, but also a spiritual aim which was to life the musician to the heights of a spiritual and supreme being. The Garden of Eden, indeed, had been found in music by the vigour of the spiritual saints of those times.

Now what would be the characteristics to identify such forms music? How would they be rendered? What were the social situations of those times which encouraged such music?

We’ll cover in the next part. Do feel free to share your thoughts on this.


Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ” – Berthold Auerbach 




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