ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Representing Cultural Evolution through Song-text

Shabd aur Sangeet: Unravelling Song-Text in India edited by Shubha Mudgal, Aneesh Pradhan and Kunal Ray, New Delhi: Three Essays Collective, 2019; pp 362; ₹750

In a Hindustani classical vocal music class, the teacher interrupts a ban­dish recital by students. She instructs the students to focus on the words of the bandish and understand the yearning of the singer for their lover. It is often said that music has its own universal language and ragas do not require words to convey emotions. Yet, Indian classical musicians continue to use poetry that heightens the emotional content of a raga. It is this abundance of shabd— poetry—the song-text in India that has survived through oral traditions that the anthology under review attempts to build upon. With 14 papers in the volume, the book Shabd aur Sangeet: Unravelling Song-text in India edited by Shubha Mudgal, Aneesh Pradhan and Kunal Ray, explores the multiple facets of the relationship between the word and the music as well as other forms of expression “that demand less wordiness” (p 1).

These forms of expression not only serve the functional purpose of being a medium but also transform the meanings, and open up new interpretations that often alter the lyrical and musical content of the song-text considering the context it employed and the objectives it intends to achieve. Therefore, an endeavour to understand this tradition of “borrowing” from the available song-texts is necessarily colla­borative, “between musicians, composers, musico­logists, ethnomusicologists and sch­o­lars and students of music, literature, linguistics, cultural studies, history, soci­ology, psycho­logy, media, theatre, film and phonology” (p 2). The papers situate the song-texts in both the histo­rical and contemporary, social, political and cultural contexts.

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Updated On : 28th Jul, 2020

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