In moving from the quiet courtyards of Tanjore to the
concert halls of Madras, the social context of music and performance underwent a
striking transformation. Traditional music was also used in the freedom
movement as an emblem of India's uniqueness and independent identity.
Departing from conventional scholarship on the subject, Lakshmi Subramanian
presents a distinctive account of the making of a modern classical
Subramanian traces the changes in traditional music in South India
as it adapted to the necessities of colonial and postcolonial social realities. Her
engaging narrative of the production of knowledge about music and the related
institution building proves raises larger questions of identity and imagination. She
also discusses the influence of nationalism in the creation of an auditory
The author shows how performance and patronage influenced the
self-development of the consuming elite. Anticipating the dilemmas of the
emerging modern Indian middle class, she also explores the ambivalence and
ambiguities that informed musical practices in the nineteenth and twentieth
The book will be important for students and scholars of history,
music, sociology, ethnomusicology, cultural studies, and South India. It will also
interest tourists and informed general readers.
About the Author
Lakshmi Subramanian is Senior Fellow in History,
Centre for studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.
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