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The Demise of Mumbai’s Rhythm House

The closure of the music store will us the opportunity to browse, listen to and instinctively buy music that we otherwise wouldn’t notice

Sunil Sampat Jan 12, 2016
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Rhythm House

Does the demise of Mumbai’s Rhythm House mark the end of the music store era?

The shutting down of the music store, Rhythm House in Mumbai is, in itself no big deal; commercial institutes of all types emerge or depart from the scene quite regularly and life goes on. I guess life will go on even after Rhythm House has called it quits but this time it takes a fair-sized toll. And in talking of Rhythm House, one speaks of not just this one commercial establishment — there were other music stores who quit the scene in recent times, but of the institution of the Music Store.

Today we listen to music on cellphones and laptops, music that is downloaded electronically and very easily available at one’s fingertips. This, sadly, may have its own down side.

Before the huge electronics revolution, which has completely changed the way we do things, collecting and owning music was a more demanding and involved matter. Typically, one made the time to go to a ‘record shop’ and browsed through the merchandise on offer – in the form of long play records [LPs]  audio cassettes and later compact discs [CDs]. In the days when only LPs were sold, one could ask to listen to the LP one liked — much like trying on clothes before buying them! This was an Indian feature. Music stores in Europe or America had no policy of sampling the music. We, in India were truly spoiled in this aspect.

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This practice was wonderful and has led to I am sure many music libraries being created in homes. It was to me a very educative process as well — my interest in jazz came from hearing another customer listening to a jazz record!

I lament the end of the Music Store era, here and internationally because it will surely deprive a young listener or music enthusiast from not just making a collection of music of one’s  choice but also educating oneself by browsing through interesting looking music of other genres, while in the store. I suspect, future music collections will grow rather like weeds, plentiful, but somewhat overgrown!

Also, the little matter of liner notes on music albums, with plenty of details about the musicians, the music and recording will be missing from downloaded or YouTube accessed music.

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