Do only trumpets, brass drums, cymbals and other percussion instruments come to mind when you think about an Indian Army band? Don't be surprised if the next time around, you hear the sarod, sitar, tabla and harmonium resonate as a band plays Indian classical music.
A band of the Indian Army's Kumaon Regiment is undergoing training in Indian classical music at the prestigious Bhatkhande Music University here, one of the most sought-after destinations for students of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Central and East Asian countries to learn classical music.
"As military bands are normally confined to the western style of music, training an army band in classical music would surely take anyone by surprise. Even we were amazed when the band, interested in learning the nuances of classical music, approached us," Bhatkhande musician Kamlesh Dubey said.
"Ever since its inception in 1926, it is for the first time in Bhatkhande's history that an army band is being trained in classical music," added Dubey, who has been tasked to train the Kumaon Regiment band.
The band, named "String", has been training at Bhatkhande for over a month.
"During a summer vacation workshop, the band approached us for training. As it was an altogether different experience for us, we had some doubts over the band's performance in the Indian classical music space and we decided on an audition.
"Though the performance by the band lacked on several fronts as far as classical music notes were concerned, the performance reflected the urge of the band members to learn. The performance reflected the natural flair for music in most of the members," said Dubey.
Bhatkhande University then came up with a tailor-made course for the army band.
"The course has been formulated taking into account the requirements of army music. We cannot make them experts in Indian classical music with a one-year course, but we can enable the band members to make their performances more lively and entertaining by incorporating the basic principles of Hindustani music," Dubey explained.
"Besides training them in basic notes of the classical music, the armymen, depending upon their role in the band, are being taught to play the sitar, sarod, harmonium, dilruba, flute and violin. We also intend to impart to them some lessons in the fusion of music so that they can vary their performances," he added.