Author: Gregory D Booth
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195670817
Anyone who has seen a wedding procession in Northern India would have heard and seen the band of professional musicians accompanying the procession. Surrounded by bright lamps and dressed in uniforms reminiscent of military finery, these are the men who herald the arrival of the groom. In spite of the singing, dancing, and the ornately clad gathering of family and friends in the procession, it is the band that is often its most noticeable element.
This book is a detailed and colourful study of India's wedding bands. The volume argues that while music performed by wedding bands help generate emotions of ecstasy and joy, the bandsmen who play it are in the fringes of the social events they herald. Musically and socially, and by birth and profession, bandsmen at weddings are ascribed low social status.
Gregory Booth's analysis of bands and bandsmen is rich in symbolism and facts surrounding South Asia's complex and diverse musical history. He explains the band trade as a syncretic component of popular culture constructed during the 19th and 20th centuries in both colonial and independent India. The volume tells stories of change witnessed in Indian wedding processions and bands over time. The relationship of musical traditions to the colonial past and India's culture as also the metaphorical association between musical change and cultural change are also explored.
The volume provides the reader with an image of the reality of professional life in South Asia, and the processes of change in the world of Indian processional music-the stark social and economic gulf between musicians and their patrons. It will be of interest to an academic audience in anthropology, ethnomusicology, history, and music as well as to a wider audience of informed general readers.
A highly original and innovative book, the first of its kind to be attempted in the South Asian context. Greg Booth always has something new and captivating in his work.
-Ashis Nandy, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
PART ONE: CONTEMPORRY AND HISTORICAL ETHNOGRAPHIES OF A PROCESSIONAL MUSIC TRADE
Identity, Caste and Family
Maliks and Bandsmen-Social and Professional Hierarchies
Careers, Space, Location, and Movement
PART TWO: SOUNDS, SIGHTS, PRACTICE, AND PERFORMANCE
Ensembles and Fashion-The Flow and Change of Meaning
The Practice of Processions and Processional Music
The Wedding Band Repertoire
Practices of Transmission and Performance