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Cassette Culture

Popular Music and Technology in North India

In Cassette Culture, Peter Manuel tells how a new mass medium—the portable cassette player—caused a major upheaval in popular culture in the world’s second-largest country. The advent of cassette technology in the 1980s transformed India’s popular music industry from the virtual monopoly of a single multinational LP manufacturer to a free-for-all among hundreds of local cassette producers. The result was a revolution in the quantity, quality, and variety of Indian popular music and its patterns of dissemination and consumption.

Manuel shows that the cassette revolution, however, has brought new contradictions and problems to Indian culture. While inexpensive cassettes revitalized local subcultures and community values throughout the subcontinent, they were also a vehicle for regional and political factionalism, new forms of commercial vulgarity, and, disturbingly, the most provocative sorts of hate-mongering and religious chauvinism.

Cassette Culture is the first scholarly account of Indian popular music and the first case study of a technological revolution now occurring throughout the world. It will be an essential resource for anyone interested in modern India, communications theory, world popular music, or contemporary global culture.

322 pages | 24 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1993

Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology

Culture Studies

Music: Ethnomusicology

Table of Contents

Motivations and Predispositions
Scope and Orientation
1. Introduction: Theoretical Perspectives
Cassettes and the New Media Technologies
Cassette Technology and the "Democratic-Participant" Media
Theoretical Approaches: Ethnomusicology and Media Theory
Control of the Media
Media Content
Reception Theory: Effects and Audience Interpretations of Media Content
Base and Superstructure in an Integrated Cultural Materialism
2. The Impact of Cassettes on the International Recording Industry
Contrasting Patterns of Development
The International Impact of Cassette Technology
Cassette Piracy
The Emergence of Legitimate Cassette Industries
3. The Music Industry and Film Culture up to 1975
The Growth of the Indian Record Industry
Film Music and Film Culture
Film Music: Context and Content
The Impact of Film Music on Folk Music
4. The Advent of Cassettes: New Alternatives to His Master’s Voice
Cassettes come to India
Cassette Producers
Financial and Technological Aspects of the Cassette Industry
Promotion and Publicity
Music-Industry Organizations
Compact Discs
5. Cassettes and the Modern Ghazal
The Traditional Ghazal
The Rise and Fall of the Film Ghazal
The Modern Ghazal
"Pop" Goes the Ghazal
6. Devotional Music
Music and Bhakti in Hindu Culture
Devotional Music and the Mass Media
Ghazal, Cassettes, and the Emergence of the Pop Bhajan
The Mainstream Pop Bhajan: Aesthetics, Ethos, and Commercialism
"Great" and "Little Traditions" in Commercial Devotional Music
Production and Marketing of Devotional Music
Muslim Devotional Music
Cassettes and Live Performance
7. The Politics of Parody: Tune-Borrowing in Popular and Folk Music
Parody in Hindustani Music
Parody in Folk Music

"Versions": Recycling the Classics
8. Regional Musics
Social Identity and Regional Syncretic Musics
Cassettes and Diversification: Region, Language, and Genre
Cassettes and Class Expression
The Impact of Commodification
Song Texts in Regional Cassette-Based Music
Cassettes and Lewd Regional Songs
Cassettes and Live Performance
Regional Cassette Musics
9. Rasiya: A Case Study in Commercialization
Braj Culture and Rasiya
Song Texts in Secular Folk Rasiya
Gender Representation in Rasiya
Rasiya and Socioeconomic Modernization
Rasiya and Mass Culture
Film Parodies and Hathrasi Rasiya
The Advent of Cassettes
Cassettes and the "Little Tradition" of Rasiya Bhakti
Secular Rasiya Cassettes
Song Texts in Commercial Rasiya
Disparaging Perspectives
M. H. Zaidi, Rasiya Producer
Singer-Poet Sevaram "Tanatan" Sharma
10. Cassettes and Sociopolitical Movements
Jagori: Cassettes and Women’s Liberation
Regional Movements in Eastern Bihar
Cassettes and the 1989 Elections
Regional and Sectarian Movements
Cassettes and the Contemporary Hindu-Muslim Conflict
11. Conclusions: A Micro-Medium in Macro-Perspective
Glossary of Indian-Language Terms
Some Recent Parodies in Film Music


Association for Recorded Sound Collections: Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence

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