Sad Song Of Musical Censorship In India And Pakistan Music
The largest Indian entertainment music organization, the Indian Motion Picture Producer’s Association. Declared a ban on Pakistani artists at the end of September 2016. Pakistani authorities responded by banning all Indian content from its television channels. This includes Bollywood movies.
This cultural war, which was spark by the September Uri attacks on Kashmir, is not new. It is sad to recall last year’s incident when an Indian ultra-regionalist party Shiv Sena, based in Maharashtrian. Threatened to disrupt the performance of Ghulam Ali, a celebrity singer, and force the concert to be cancel.
What can we make of episodes that happen now with depressing regularity and enjoy prime-time television popularity in India. But then fade away, only to be remember when another event occurs? Like so many other things, there is a historical reason for the appropriation and performance of music. And practices as part the nationalist project in India and Pakistan.
As a historian, my research has focused on the complex and controversial history of music in North India with Partition. Which when India and Pakistan split in 1947. These music disputes reinforce the artificial borders that nationalism established then.
Music From North India Mixes Complex Social Worlds
Music, specifically classical music in North India, was part of a complex social world until 1947. It was perform and written in courts, princely establishments, and the bourgeois public spheres of cities. It was found in both Hindu Vaishnav temples as well as Sufi Islamic silas, which social circles that form around certain teachers and followers. Music was an integral channel to experiencing mystic bliss.
Qawwali is a type of spiritual devotional music that emerged from these social and cultural milieu. In the 17th and18th centuries, North Indian music thrived. It found in nearly all of Mughal North India (the current state, Uttar Pradesh), the Punjab and the Mughal Deccan. It was part of an Indo-Islamic composite culture known as ganga Jumni Tehzib.
This style combined acoustic elements of different sources with a multilingual repertoire. It conveyed the simplicity of both Hindu and Islamic sufi poetry.
Inspiration For This Poetry
The inspiration for this poetry came from popular devotional movements, such as Islam and Hinduism in the 15th century. These movements stressed personal devotion and the importance of teachers. It was capable of commanding many genres and could move quite easily between court or kotha, which is the most common definition of brothel but also part in the popular entertainment scene.
North Indian music also used musical instruments from South Asia and Central Asia to create new instruments like the sitar or the sarod. They also experimented with new ideas of melody and vocalisation.
These music was nurture carefully by specialist families that had access to a wide repertoire and a multitude of brilliant teachers. They also found support in small courts, which lasted even after the Great Mutiny (1857), when the Indian army rebelled.
After the mutiny, musical family’s power and stature were greatly reduced, but they found new fans among a growing middle class gentry, whose rise was facilitated by western education and colonial work.
Modernity And Music
The increased appreciation of music by the middle class was made possible by the experience of modernity. This inevitably led to new anxieties about heritage, culture, and inheritance. It was necessary that these concerns were appropriately project in a modern, spiritual, and chaste manner.
The practice of music by courtesans, Muslim Ustads (teachers, masters) had to reconcile to the new aspirations for a middle-class, western-educated Hindu society. They had to adapt this entertainment to fit a Hindu-accented notion of Indian-ness.
It was a series if experiments that led to the resolution of the problem in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. These included publishing primers on music and establishing music appreciation societies. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, Vishnu Digamber Paluskar were the first to initiate these experiments.