Tag: Music

The most influential band ever?

Ask Western pop music fans this question, and the chances are that the majority would reply with ‘The Beatles’. There is no doubt that the four mop-topped boys from Liverpool revolutionised the world of pop music and continue to be one of the, if not the most, popular bands ever.

But there is increasingly a view that, as popular as The Beatles are, there is another band that is arguably the most influential band ever. Listen to their music today, and you cannot but be amazed at how prescient their music was, when it was first released more than 40 years ago.

The band is Kraftwerk, founded by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1970. Their early albums were only modestly successful, but in the period from 1974 to 1982, they released a series of albums that marked them out as the pioneers of what we now call electronic or synth-pop and which influenced a legion of musicians since.

I cannot put it any better than Jude Rogers writing in The Guardian – “The sounds they invented have been sampled by hundreds of artists, from Madonna to R.E.M, from Missy Elliott to Fergie. Coldplay and Jay-Z have had hits with their elegant melodies and their image has influenced David Bowie, Daft Punk and Kanye West. We also now live in the kind of world their future-obsessed lyrics predicted: we find Computer Love online, models smile from time to time and Europe Endless exists.

Writing in The Conversation, Uwe Schütte says, “Kraftwerk … established an entirely new way to think about how popular music should sound to make it a dominant art form for the 21st century.”

I must admit, that while I had heard of Kraftwerk before, I only first heard them seriously in the summer of 2015. I was on a long-haul flight to India, and the in-seat entertainment unit of the airplane had Kraftwerk’s album, ‘The Man-Machine‘ in their library. As soon as the first notes from ‘The Robot’ hit my eardrums, I was hooked. And by the end of the total playing time of a little over 36 minutes, I was left to pick up my jaw from the floor. The music had lifted me up, churned me around and left me so dazed, it was as if I was listening to my first ever music album.

A few months after that, I viewed a documentary about their series of performances at The Tate Modern in London and that gave me a greater appreciation of the role they have played in creating a genre and the influence they still exert on popular music and culture.

An influence that, according to many, is unsurpassed in the history of popular music.


Further readings:




Indian Music Experience

Indian Music Experience
Indian Music Experience

The Indian Music Experience is a fairly new (established late 2018) addition to the museum scene in Bangalore. We recently visited this place located in a Southern suburb of the city.

The entry compound has a variety of novel musical ‘instruments’ that visitors can interact with. Children will especially like making ‘music’ on these installations.

Indian Music Experience - external view
Indian Music Experience – external view

The music experience starts on the third floor of this interestingly designed building. This section talks about the developments in popular Indian music over the past few decades before leading visitors to the classical music section. The exhibits are beautifully laid out with ample listening stations for visitors to hear representative music. There are also interactive exhibits where visitors can choose their musical instruments and they can instantly hear what an orchestra composed of their selected instruments sounds like.

The journey continues on the second floor where visitors can learn more about the development of film and folk music. The second floor also contains a large two storey wall installation composed of the various types of musical instruments played in India. One can also choose a instrument to listen to how it sounds.

Wall of Instruments - IME
Wall of Instruments – IME

The second floor also includes a set-up of a recording studio where visitors can experience the feel of recording the vocals on a song and also get their ‘song’ emailed to them.

The highlight, for me, was to see the actual shehnai and cap worn by Ustad Bismillah Khan. This section also has the tanpura and sari worn by M. S. Subbulakshmi as well as clothes and silver paan box belonging to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

The entry fee seemed steep initially, but it is well worth it for the wealth of information presented inside. We spent a little over two hours, but one can easily spend twice that time in this world-class museum.