Film I

Bollywood—Music and Multimedia

Authored by: Anna Morcom

The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415629256
eBook ISBN: 9780203629987
Adobe ISBN: 9781135956462


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Music is always in some way a combination of hearing and seeing, not to mention other senses. Whether live, recorded, or in memory or imagination, it is experienced in a given place and time. As Philip Bohlman states, music is characterized by “embeddedness” in other human activities. 1 Or, to cite the more traditional ethnomusicological phrase, music exists in a “cultural context.” However, configurations and interactions of hearing and seeing (and of course other forms of experience) vary greatly with different kinds of music. Some musical forms consciously or explicitly embody imagery and scenes, for example Indian raga, program music, or music that is a part of drama or music video. More implicitly, music is grounded in place and is always associated with cultural phenomena, identities, and environments, for example the clear, high-pitched a capella nomadic songs of the vast nomadic Tibetan grasslands of Tibet, or the overlapping rainforest textures of the music of the Papua New Guinean Kaluli people described in Steven Feld's well-known work. However, in the context of nationalism, multiculturalism, identity politics, marketing, and tourism, music's associations with given peoples and places is in many cases honed, essentialized, and reified, and images and meanings become foregrounded in newly politicized and/or commercialized ways.

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