History of Indo Western Music

The rise of Indo western Music in the world!

When varied musical styles came together with various cultures and traditions of the globe, we got the most amazing music genre called fusion music. The apparent interest of the popular musicians was to move out of their comfort music zones to pick up and understand various other music styles belonging to different countries and cultures and mix their unique sounds with their own musical genre led to ‘fusion music’

history of indo western music

The early Interaction between the west and Indian musicians has a longer history way back to 1800s and, the very first fusion music was the Indo western music, which started to gain popularity in the 1960s when Hindustani classical music maestros, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ananda Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and various others started to collaborate with western musicians. The most notable collaboration involved Pt. Shankar, famous American violinist, Yehudi Menuhin and celebrated George Harrison from the group ‘The Beatles’. Both Pt. Shankar and Ustad Ali Khan stood firmly rooted to their own musical genre while collaborating with the western musicians to give rise to Indo western music.

The origin of the Indo western fusion music in the 1960s cannot be considered an isolated incident as the whole world was going through polarization and the cold war was at the peak. Due to this, the western countries started marketing their soft powers like literature, music, science and art to influence the world. While communist Russia opted for literature and science, the US chose to promote their art industry especially their popular music. It was in the 1960s that jazz music started gaining popularity in India to the extent that the Park Street in Calcutta became the jazz street of India. Moreover, various rock bands started to form in the metros of India but, the development of Indo western music was not one-way process as the acceptability and understanding of Indian classical music grew rapidly in the USA. One of the most popular influencers of that era was Pandit Ravi Shankar who was featured in major music festivals of 60’s and 70s.

While the world of music was slowly expanding with the merger of various genres and style of music, one project made the biggest difference when the Indian Carnatic classical percussionists T.H. Vinayakaram and Ramnad Raghavan Hindustani classical tabla player Zakir Hussain, British Jazz Guitarist John McLaughlin and Carnatic and jazz violinist L. Shankar got together for an experimental fusion music project ‘Shakti”. The debut album of this collaboration-“Shakti with John McLaughlin” was released in 1976 that propelled the indo-western fusion music in the most popular genres of music. Soon, the Indo western music became a part of the Bollywood industry and then, artists like A.R. Rahman and colonial cousins took this music genre to a completely new level.

With the ever-growing popularity of fusion music and indo western music, there is an ever growing urge to unite and when artists set themselves free from the constraints of a particular music style and tradition, the true fusion music is achieved.

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