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Understanding India’s roots of Western classical


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By Frederick Noronha

P1120174Western Classical music first came to India as a extension of the colonial encounter, but over time it has become “an essential part of Indian culture”, says scholar Sebanti Chatterjee who has recently done her M.Phil on the subject.

Chatterjee’s study is a comparative study of the practices of Western Classical Music across three areas — Mumbai, Kolkata and Goa.

But while Western Classical has stayed a “marginalised presence” in India, musical elements of this genre “get comfortable absorbed in other musical styles — both in the realm of indigenous and Western music”, comments the scholar.

With the curiosity of the scholar and the soft-spokenness of a research student, the young lady plans to shortly take on her Ph.D. in this rather unusual field – Western music in India.

Tracing its history, she notes the importance to understand the Western Classical music scenario in late eighteenth century Anglo-Indian society. The 1760s and 1770s saw rise of all male musical clubs with limited access granted to the ladies, such as Catch club. In the 1780s there was a lucrative business of supplying Anglo Indians with music and instruments. Continue reading “Understanding India’s roots of Western classical”