Saraswati Sings: The Slide-Guitar in India
Elias, Andre J.
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This dissertation explores the phenomenon of slide-guitar traditions in the classical and popular music of India. Drawing from data gathered between 2014 and 2016 in Jaipur and Kolkata, India, the history, social life, and challenges faced by the slide-guitar community are illuminated with attention to how the instrument has flourished in a climate of modern Hindu nationalism and globalization. Using a theoretical framework that includes ideas about hybridity, nationalism, vernacularization, and cultural capital, the many forms of the slide-guitar in India are analyzed in the context of the cultural reforms of India’s late British colonial period through the early twenty-first century. The slide-guitar is analyzed in light of the codification of musical systems and cultural norms in India, with special emphasis on gender issues in the performing arts and in nativist symbolism. This study emphasizes the relationship between musicians and instrument makers in the evolution of an instrument that has migrated conceptually and structurally from a foreign to a traditional instrument within Indian music cultures. Ethnographic work is focused on the role of the luthier in carving a uniquely Indian identity onto the body of the slide-guitar and the social life that has manifested around the customization of slide-guitar instruments. Detailed are the diverse performance techniques and pedagogical systems that transmit slide-guitar repertoire in the genres of Hindustani classical music and Bengali light music genres of Rabindra sangeet and Nazrul geeti.
- Music