Search International Institute website.

They Can Decide What They Want in the Morning, I'll Sing the Way I Want in the Evening: Debating the Standardization of Raga in South India, 1930-1952

A CISA Seminar.

Monday, May 04, 2009
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The nationalist founders of the Music Academy of Madras (1927) felt an overriding need to organize indigenous artistic traditions along what they considered to be scientific lines. Self-declared amateur ‘lovers of the art for its own sake’, they defined themselves pointedly in opposition to professional performers, who were held responsible for alleged defects in the current state of musical practice, and who for their part responded to standardization activity in complex ways. The paper situates the voices in these debates, suggests implications for the fields of ethnomusicology and music theory of a historical situation in which socio-political concerns have a direct and dramatic effect on the structure and performance of music, and gestures toward comparative study of musical revival movements in colonized societies in the early 20th century.

About the speaker

Matthew Allen is the Jane E. Ruby Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Asian Studies at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. He is co-author, with T. Viswanathan, of Music in South India: The Karnatak Concert Tradition and Beyond (Oxford Univ. Press, 2004) and author of several articles on the music of South India. Most recently, his essay “Standardize, Classicize, and Nationalize: The Scientific Work of the Music Academy of Madras, 1930-52” was published in Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in Modern South India (Oxford Univ. Press, 2007). His research interests include the music and dance of India, Irish and Brazilian music, the social history of music theory, music and identity, and the guitar. He has served two terms on the Society for Ethnomusicology Council, a term as SEM Second Vice President, and is a member of the Ethnomusicology Committee of the Archive and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology, New Delhi. In 2002 he was awarded a Fulbright Senior Fellowship at University College Cork, Ireland. Active as a performer and composer, he has released several CDs of original compositions and Brazilian popular music together with his wife, vocalist Julie Searles.

Sponsor(s): Asia Institute, Center for India and South Asia

Search International Institute website.