02 August, 2021

78 Revolutions

Akhtari, the Bai who became Begum

78 Revolutions

Hum ko mitaa sak, ye zamaane me dum nahin/hum se zamaanaa khud hai, zamaane se ham nahin (Time doesn’t have the nerve to wipe me out/Time owes its existence to me; I don’t owe my existence to it)

—Jigar Moradabadi

As Indians, one thing that we perhaps cannot take pride in is moderation—a balanced opinion on almost anything—it’s either good or bad. Not that I wish to pontificate on these extremes, but in the context of Indian classical music, which I practise, the extremes show up acutely; both from the point of view of the music as well as its social history—hierarchy and classification inc­luded. While in the context of Wes­tern music there are even questions being raised about the validity of genres like ‘classical’, given that it has existed over a span of 400-500 years and conti­nues to take new shape and interpretat­ion (for eg, is it even fair to compare Henry Purcell with Philip Glass?), in India hierarchies...

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