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Saptak Archives began formally in 2004, although in spirit, it has been in existence since its founders started putting collections of Hindustani music together in their personal capacities since the 1980s. The archive today has over 20,000 recordings of masters from various Gharanas, traditions and styles within Hindustani Art Music (North Indian Classical Music), both vocal as well as instrumental. This includes rare and valuable heritage recordings painstakingly put together from various sources, as well as recordings of over 30 years of the Saptak Annual festival of music as well as the various small and large events that Saptak organises every year. The archive is now fully digital and all the recordings, together with rich metadata have been stored in a professionally designed database system for easy access, including detailed field-based search and retrieval.

The objective of Saptak archives is to digitise this music recorded in different media (spools, cassettes, 78 and LP records etc.) for long term preservation, storage, compilation and retrieval in digital media (CD,DVD, hard disk). Spread over 2000 sq.ft. area in Ahmedabad in a central location, Saptak Archives has a highly competent team which includes a musicologist and experts well versed in music and digital technology.

Saptak Archives organises workshops by veterans and stalwarts, which are attended by students, teachers and music lovers whose understanding is deepened through these interactive sessions. It also organizes baithaks or chamber concerts. In these, musicians present ragas and bandishes, which are rarely heard in public concerts. Listening sessions are also organised where select pieces are played along with a commentary by experts, to create an appreciation of finer nuances and aesthetics.

Saptak Archives has several work-stations, listening posts, a concert hall, storage room and a multi-media music library. It has been able to digitise 6000 hours of music of over 950 artistes. In its efforts to create a treasure chest, Saptak Archives invites private music collectors to donate their collection towards preserving this musical heritage.

The Road Ahead

Having established a music library where music lovers, students, connoisseurs, researchers, music gurus and musicologists can listen to wide repertoire of Indian classical and traditional music Saptak Archives seeks to pursue networking with other archives and music library to create a central database.

This would also support Saptak’s quest to create an ever-widening network of Indian classical music lovers and organising listening groups. Moving beyond Gujarat, Saptak Archives plans to help rasikas all over the country to experience the joys of the Indian classical music through web based communication technologies with the co-operation of the performing musicians.

Saptak Archives also plans to bring out a newsletter (printed and electronic) which will carry interesting news about music events, activities, archive/library notes and reviews of published music.

There are several private collections scattered all over the country in various formats. Some of these are valuable heritage and it is important to preserve them. As not many have the infrastructure, the expertise, the technology or the means to digitise the music, Saptak Archives offers its services for digitising and archiving.

In the future, a broadcast service based either on web technology or FM Radio could be organised with this archival backup.