Hindi Filmī Gīt: On the History of Commercial Indian Popular Music

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1991 - Motion picture music - 802 pages
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This study traces the musical development of the Hindi film song from the beginning of Indian sound film in 1931 to the present day, with an emphasis on the years 1931-55. Based largely on fieldwork carried out within the Bombay film industry in 1982-83, this dissertation addresses questions that relate to musical as well as cultural, social, historical, and technological aspects of this popular song genre. The study examines the unique role of Hindi film song both in Indian musical culture--as an integral component of the commercial Hindi film and as the major form of native, mass-mediated popular music--and in Indian culture and society in general. It further explores the cultural, historical, and musical forces that have combined to produce this extraordinarily popular music. The organization of chapters reflects a chronological approach to the history of Hindi film song. The first chapter deals with the transition from silent to sound film. Film sound production in the 1930s, the subject of Chapter 2, includes discussion of the new roles of film music director, film actor-singer and film musician, and the film studio structure, in addition to musical analysis of early Hindi film songs. Chapter 3 focuses on the revolutionary changeover from actor-singer to playback singer, enabled by technological advances. The fourth chapter describes the transition from film studios to independent film producers in the 1940s-early 1950s, with the establishment of 'formulas' and the emergence of an identifiable mainstream Hindi film song form, and also surveys the film gawwali/, bhajan, gazal, folk song, and thumri/. Chapter 5 turns to post Indian Independence (1947) developments: the 'golden age of melody,' the expansion of the film orchestra, the increasingly eclectic film song composition, and the impact of technology and commercialization. Chapter 6 summarizes the changes that have taken place since the mid 1950s, including the rise of a 'parallel' or 'New Wave' cinema. The last chapter draws together the particular combination of musical, historical, and cultural forces behind the creation and production of Hindi film song, and assesses the role of this popular music in 20th-century Indian music, culture, and society.

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