Raag Kirwani on Android
Indian classical music is now on your fingertips, thanks to a smartphone app
It is 9 am and Bangalore is engulfed in the drone of a workday traffic. Negotiating his way through the chaos, Anirudh R, an engineer, is uncharacteristically calm. In fact, for the past month, the 28-year-old has been looking forward to his daily 17-km commute to Electronics City. The reason — a music app on his phone that is docked into his dashboard. Presently, it is streaming a serene contemporary piece set in Raag Kirwani by Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Anirudh, a self-confessed "blues and rock person", never knew he had an ear for classical music until he chanced upon Twaang, a free app for Android that is slowly changing the way Indian classical music is heard. The VM Bhatt rendition, part of an album called Stargazing, was released early this year exclusively on Twaang. "I had been looking for relaxing music. I never imagined I would find it in a classical music app," says Anirudh.
In an age when smartphones, 3G and YouTube have changed the way we listen to music, Anirudh is part of a growing tribe of young men and women who prefer to get their daily dose of entertainment while on the move. While Bollywood music is easy to stream on your phone, there aren't many apps that bring you legal non-film music. Twaang does just that. With a library of about 85,000 tracks by over 4,000 artistes, Twaang has emerged as the largest collection of Indian classical music available for a smartphone. The impetus for the app came from a drive such as the one we shared with Anirudh. One evening in April 2012, Vishnu Raned, a former software sales executive, found himself stuck in traffic. He had no CDs in the car and an irksome RJ was on air. "It made me think about how film music was easy to access on a smartphone but not classical or folk music," he says. Raned, whose tastes in music range from suprabhatam to jazz, decided to build an app to make classical music more accessible. He roped in Shirish Hirekodi, a friend and former colleague, to develop the app, and set about talking to record labels and artistes and creating a Facebook page that today has over a thousand likes.