Dr Aneesh Pradhan – ICCR Public Lecture on India

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Date(s) - 27/08/2016
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Consulate General of India in Melbourne


Monash Asia Institute with Indian Council for Cultural Relations presents Dr Aneesh Pradhan’s ICCR Public Lecture on India

‘Courtesans and Hereditary Musicians in a Colonial Setting: Practitioners of Hindustani Music in Bombay’

27 August 2016
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Consulate General of India in Melbourne
344, St Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC 3004


Before the nineteenth century, Hindustani music was performed and practised almost exclusively by hereditary musicians, who were tied to, and patronised by, aristocratic courts and religious institutions. The consequences of coloniality, the arrival of modernity and the assertion of Hindu nationalism spelt the beginning of the end for this centuries-old social organisation of music. New sources of patronage from mercantile and industrial classes in colonial centres, such as Bombay (now Mumbai), fundamentally and rapidly changed the ways in which Hindustani music was socially organised, performed and taught. The advent of the gramophone and sound recordings intensified this experience and generated a whole series of fundamental challenges that profoundly affected the lives and livelihood of long-standing communities of hereditary musicians, amongst whom were significant numbers of female artists, the courtesans.

This lecture will focus attention on the living and working conditions of hereditary musicians and courtesans in colonial Bombay and the resilience they displayed in the most trying of circumstances. Discussion will connect contemporary developments in Hindustani music with these profound historical issues and will include Dr Aneesh Pradhan’s personal reflections as a performer and researcher.

View Dr Aneesh Pradhan’s tabla performance video…

Register for Dr Aneesh Prahan’s public lecture here…



Monash University is honoured to welcome Dr Aneesh Pradhan as Chair in Indian Studies from Indian Council for Cultural Relations (http://www.iccr.gov.in) at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music.

Dr Pradhan is one of India’s leading tabla players. He is a disciple of Pandit Nikhil Ghosh from whom he inherited a considerable repertoire of traditional tabla solo compositions from the Delhi, Ajrada, Lucknow, Farrukhabad and Punjab gharanas. A doctorate from the University of Mumbai, he is a keen researcher of trends in performance, music education and patronage that unfolded in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, a period that continues to fascinate him. Dr Pradhan has authored a children’s book on tabla, part of a forthcoming twelve book series entitled Baajaa Gaajaa: Musical Instruments of India and Tabla: A Performer’s Perspective. He has been awarded a medal by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai for his book Hindustani Music in Colonial Bombay. His latest ebook, Hindustani Music: Ways of Listening, is a collection of articles from Scroll.in, a digital publication. He has directed and produced a short film entitled Pratidhvani: Reverberations of the Nanasaheb Panse Pakhawaj Tradition.

Dr Pradhan is Director of Underscore Records Pvt. Ltd, an independent online record label (http://underscorerecords.com/). He also co-curates with vocalist Shubha Mudgal, an international music festival called Baajaa Gaajaa: Music from 21st Century India. Based in Mumbai, India, Aneesh Pradhan lives a life that affords him the chance to be in turns, performer, composer, student, teacher, researcher, and author.

Dr Pradhan’s books will be available at the event courtesy Eltham Bookshop.


2:45 PM Registration
3:00 PM Welcome
3:15 PM Lecture: Courtesans and Hereditary Musicians in a Colonial Setting: Practitioners of Hindustani Music in Bombay
4:15 PM Chai and Refreshments
5:00 PM Close