3:10 pm: Opening remarks by Joshua D. Pilzer, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of Toronto
3:15 pm: “Playing Dance and Dancing Music: The Work of Intimacy in Kathak”
Ameera Nimjee, Doctoral Candidate in Ethnomusicology, University of Chicago
This presentation examines the work that goes into the performance of kathak (North Indian classical) dance. I here explore how tabla musicians and kathak dancers collaborate in a particular tradition of kathak to perform rhythmic compositions. They work to construct and maintain a relationship onstage, which they express to their audience. This relationship is characterized by an intimacy that they show through gestures—head nods, smiles, waves, exclamations, and even short snippets of conversation. These and other gestures comprise the work of intimacy in the practice of kathak dance, which I argue is the most important part of this particular aesthetic in form. My experience as a practitioner leads me to explore the place of intimacy between performers in music-making practices. I focus centrally on a series of compositions in which I collaborate and am accompanied by a tabla musician. I show that dancers and musicians in kathak co-create a charged and intimate environment that characterizes the tradition itself. I argue that this intimacy is responsible for persisting historical practices of music and dance today. This tradition blurs the space between “dance” and “music” in kathak.
4:00 pm: “Notation, Pedagogy, and Patrimony: Muslim Hereditary Musicians and their Musical Transcriptions in Early Twentieth-Century India”
Max Katz, Associate Professor of Music, William and Mary
At the heart of India’s music reform movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the trope of the illiterate ustad. Led by English-educated, high-caste Hindus, the reform movement sought to reclaim a cultural heritage believed to have been hijacked by “ustads” (Muslim hereditary musicians), and to transform an ostensibly oral tradition into a textual and institutional pillar of the nation. This paper thwarts the enduring stereotype of the illiterate ustad through a focus on musical notations included in two published texts: Israre Karamat (1908), an Urdu work by Karamatullah Khan, and Sangit Parichay (1915), a Bengali work by his brother, Kaukab Khan. These long-forgotten works by two renowned ustads of the early twentieth century contribute to a counternarrative of Indian music history in which Muslim master musicians eagerly sought to propagate their own musical knowledge in the form of accessible musical notations toward both sharing with the nation and retaining ownership of their own musical patrimony.
Room 130, 80 Queen's Park
Free and open to the public. Presentation will be followed by a casual reception.