Thursday, October 20, 2011

Drone developments

During a recent concert in Trondheim, flute maestro Shashank Subramaniam mentioned that Indian musicians owe Steve Jobs homage for creating portable computers that could provide good drone accompaniment on stage.

While drones have traditionally been provided by someone playing the stringed instrument tanpura, modern Indian musicians often replace the tanpura player with electronic "shruti" boxes or - more recently - an application on their iphone, mac or pc.

Does the spread of tanpura apps spell the end for the musical instrument tanpura itself? Although there might be fewer physical instruments being made in the future, the low cost and easy availability of such drone applications might lead to many more prospective musicians having tools available for them to practice and perform with - thus both increasing the number of active players and perhaps awakening audiences to insist on sometimes experiencing "authentic" tanpura accompaniment. Could this be a development to follow along with?

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