Suppose we sing or rap about dark themes (depression, alcohol, drugs, violence, sex) similar to modern American music from 1970-present day in Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, or Malayalam over Indian classical-Rock, Pop or Hip Hop fusion. Would the lyrics sound as modern as in sounding similar in sound/delivery, flow/melody, and meaning as English lyrics? Could it be as common (used in everyday conversation), complex (lyrical), explicit (swearing, slang), or controversial?

I say this because I'm an American from Indian Origin. Dark themes hardly exist in Indian music and if it does it's extremely poetic with references to nature (sun, flower, moon), dresses (veils, saris, fabric), organs (heart, liver) and gods. Their music remains very ancient and hardly modernized to this day.

Some songs with dark themes (I read English translations) exist in India but few are well-known :

keh ke lunga (Hindi) (Uses slang, Refers to Intimidation and Violence)

Ganda hai (Hindi) (Intimidation)

Beware (Punjabi) (Intimidation)

Emotional Attyachar (Hindi) (Depression)

Hikknaal (Punjabi) (Comical reference to violence)

In Independent music there is a rise in rock (apocalyptic themes, depression) and rap (struggle, representing neighborhood, alcohol, sexual references to women):

Bandeh (Hindi) (Apocalyptic)

Jimikki Kamal (Malayalam) (College Slang, Alchoholism)

Iraiva (Tamil) (Suicide, Violence)

Char Bottle Vodka (Alcoholism, Sexual References to Women)

Represent (Indus Vally Remix) (Representing Neighborhood, Violence, Swearing, Intimidation)

Mere Gully mein (Initimidation, Representing Neighborhood, Violence)

But some of these songs hardly contain elements of Indian classical music so it’s hard to say it’s musically “familiar” to Indian ears.

Most of these songs use poetic lyricism but we see some songs (Represent, Mere Gully Mein) use more common everyday language. However, the most well-known rap songs (char bottle vodka) refer to alcohol and women but are not as lyrically sophisticated (dull compared to English). In fact, it seems more Indians are preferring English over Indian music.

Currently, the most popular Indian songs (songs with millions of followers) are about parties and romance but don’t contain any parts of Indian classical music that make it “Indian”. Moreover, American songs are becoming more popular.

Could Indian music ever modernize/evolve into other genres as successfully as American music?

  • Do you have specific cultural factors in mind that you think are preventing this? Because my gut reaction to this question is "sure, why not." Could it be possible that songs with your "modern" criteria do exist, but you just haven't come across them yet? – user63785 Oct 19 '19 at 18:22
  • @jasnoj Indians are conservative people. The British imposed ideologies in them that prevented them from embracing grittier themes. No well known Indian Artists, except Honey Singh and Badshah go into these themes. Plus their topics are mainly alcohol and partying. There isn’t much substance. – Arbuja Oct 19 '19 at 19:45
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    If we're dealing with largely cultural factors which is what I understand from your comment above, then this is well beyond the scope of this forum. You might have better luck asking this in a different forum. This forum is devoted to musical techniques and practices. – pro Oct 19 '19 at 21:29
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    I would love to take a crack at this question, but I don't... actually understand what its scope or central point is. "How would the lyrics differ in sound/delivery, flow/melody, and meaning from English lyrics?" seems to be a completely different question from the title; and the long-form question seems to largely be about popular music where the title is about classical music? This topic sounds very interesting and I'd love to see it discussed, if you can focus on one particular question so we're all on the same page. – Peter Smith Oct 20 '19 at 4:30
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    The older title question, "difference between Indian and English lyricism besides language", is much closer to what you ask about in the question body than the current title, "could Indian classical music modernize"; if you're looking for answers that emphasize lyrical differences you might be better off trying literature.stackexchange.com – Peter Smith Oct 21 '19 at 16:26

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