The ecology of “Music on Record” — c. 1898-1914

That was the title of the talk, delivered by Prof. Vibodh Parthasarathi of CCMG, Jamia Millia Islamia, delivered at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT-Delhi.

Though the visuals (posters/advertisements/photos), the clips of the early recordings from that period, and even a short movie of the record making process are best enjoyed only in being physically present in the talk, for those of you who might be interested in reading about some of the stuff that was discussed, here is a paper from Prof. Parthasarathi titled Not just mad Englishmen and a dog: ‘The colonial tuning of “Music on Record”, 1900-1908 (pdf).

One aspect that I would have loved to hear more about is how the musicians and artists themselves regarded the recording process and why — this is only a minor quibble (and, it got some attention during the discussions that followed the talk anyway).

If you get a chance, you should not miss listening to the presentation — if only for the clippings and the pleasure of looking at the posters from that era. In the meanwhile, the report linked above is a good one too — if you have such inclinations.


[1] It was not very pleasant to learn about Gandhi’s refusal to meet Gauhar Jan (in spite of his Congress accepting her funding).

[2] I also understand that the practice of the singer giving her name towards the end of the records (which Sheila Dhar notes in her book), was, initially, to facilitate the workers at the gramophone manufacturing units in England and elsewhere to be able to label the records correctly — which later on, became a fashion and, to some extent, even a fetish.

One Response to “The ecology of “Music on Record” — c. 1898-1914”

  1. The man whose voice never got separated from his throat « Entertaining Research Says:

    […] man whose voice never got separated from his throat By Guru Sometime back, when I heard Vibodh Parthasarathi on “Music on Record-c. 1898-1914″, he began his talk with a couplet whose meaning runs something like this: What is this strange […]

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