Culture Per Song:
Vintage vinyl records and cassettes are of immense value. Nothing can beat the touch and feel of a vinyl record spinning peacefully on a gramophone, or the incessant turning of a cassette with a pencil to roll back its tape. However, in this digital age, the way for preservation going forward is electronic. Not that going electronic is a bad thing, having an infinite playlist on one’s phone is not only convenient but also very impressive, technologically.
Officially launched in 2017, the campaign being actually started with Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, who digitized the first track, Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla’s Gosai Gosai - now with almost 10,000 ready; they will slowly be released on YouTube.
Through the month of April and May, Axl Hazarika and his department, which mostly consists of him, will release close to 1,000 songs on YouTube in an effort to preserve them and create an online accessible library of sorts.
Collecting vinyls and cassettes is a whole other story he says. Some people who are record or vinyl collectors, don’t like to part with their collection and often ask for financial compensation or such, he mentioned.
Speaking of how he meets people with records, Hazarika said that it is generally through word-of-mouth and contacts.
80 percent of these records, vinyls and cassettes are recovered from Assam and the remaining 20 percent are found in states like West Bengal and New Delhi, especially in Kolkata as earlier, all vinyls from this region were produced there.
The third problem that he faces is that people often mistake his archiving as a music museum. Hazarika’s aim is not to create a museum, but to make a digital archive that stores these re-mastered songs so that they are accessible to all, even in countries as far as the United States and United Kingdom. He wants to create a sharing platform, not a viewing platform.
Currently, the department has collected approximately 10,000 pictures of film personalities from Assam. They are also collecting and in the process of archiving Assamese films, music, photographs and literature.
Hazarika mentioned that he wants to mix all of these together and make a platform where everything from Assamese culture is available in a single place. His aim to make the platform like Netflix and Spotify of sorts - a mixed version of that.