Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > THE MUSICAL LANGUAGE OF INDIAN FILM SONG IN THE 1940S

This study examines the musical language of Indian film songs in the 1940s, through the last years of British colonial rule and into the early years of national independence. I analyze a small set of film song exemplars to explore how the Indian classical and folk traditions provided cultural capital for the nationalist project even while the values of the film song industry included an omnivorous cosmopolitanism, a love of novelty, and a playful experimentation with genres, forms, instruments, and other musical parameters. I trace the discursive tension between film composers’ anti-colonial stances and their experimentation with Western orchestration and harmonization, operatic idioms, Latin rhythms, Arabic intonation, and other non-Indian musical resources. India’s struggle for independence thus brought the freedom both to repudiate and to re-inscribe the past, while drawing from a global lexicon of musical symbols.