Virinder Kalra “Sacred and Secular Musics”

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 14.39.58‘writing a book about music may seem anachronistic given the state of crises that announced itself in explicit acts of violence and multiple human violations’

This is a book not to be missed. Sacred and Secular Musics explains with detail and nuance the contexts of emergence and understanding – and criticism of misunderstandings – of musics from the Punjab. Kirtans, Qawwali, folk and film tunes are given analytical and biographical treatment here – based upon extensive interviews and well-tuned listening practice. Virinder Kalra’s return from a combative engagement with musicological terrain reunites what has been torn apart by scholarship and politics.

A sonorous demolition of colonial era music orientalism is articulated as a necessary and ongoing project. Here it is informed by historical and archival work used as parallel anti-colonial movement against the drone routines of latter day musicology and its patterned responses in hierarchical mode. That surely ever so well-meaning contemporary music scholars repeat the platitudes and privileges of East India Company judgements is not just an error of disciplinary isolation or demarcation – a book on music is never only about music – here at last is one up front about the isomorphism of soundtrack and power. Get this book not so much to read your way into a better music history or to decolonise your record/mp3 collection’s exotic moments, but to recognise those moments as part of a wider dis-orientation through rhythm and poetry – which could perhaps be claimed as the sonic register of a wider Global South resistance, and not to be merely commercialised and packaged into some rote-learning documentary format.

‘despite increasing hardening physical borders and political sabre rattling. Perhaps only music is able, in the absence of cross-border transnational, political or social movements and institutions, to provide an example of another possibility of a refusal to endorse and promote the outcomes of colonial modernity. Even though, this is only a minor chord in the hugely amplified soundscape that is invested in the continuation of the boundaries between religions. It is one that is worth straining for and making the effort to hear’

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And here it is – New Fun*da*mental video

Remote control lyrics 
Verse one 

Dissemination of piss abomination 

This amount of patients reminisce about the ancients 

Be the cannon fodder godless and abandoned

Bodies torn apart martyrdom with the fandom 
( this refers to radicalised brainwashing re isis as

Well as that spread by the system )
Twitter big hitter sacrifice the pig litter 

Crazy fantayzee we spit the prose bitter 

Carcasses are targeted from Mali to the caucuses 

The killer focuses upon the thriller stalkers
( more about the same subject talking about how 

Social media is used to promote hate and 

Also how isis etc destroy sufi graves )
The war hawkers overwhelm the poor talkers 

The doors awkward as it slams behind the mind 

Stand behind the times droning on the land mines

Prone to dam times alone to land crimes 
( talks about how the media savvy brainwash the masses )
I don’t know what I’ve been told 

All I have is no control 

Everything that I’ve been sold 

Makes me jump out of the fold 
Verse two 
Brain overwhelmed train over hell

Genocide ride then given the Nobel 
( refers to Nobel prizes given to mass murderers)
Stripped of dignity in a Boston motel 
( reference to Boston bomber who was arrested naked then ended up killed ) 
Blacks that don’t crack and cops that don’t tell

Kill for a cigarillo side looks suspicious 
( about the killings of african Americans )
Wobblers keep pushing that makes the sidis vicious
( wahabis forcing Sufis to become violent )
Death seek delicious with intent that’s malicious 

Smorgasbord of war keep picking at the dishes 

Contortionists sinister decisions 

The first cut is deeper make the incision 
( about radical grooming again …on both sides )
Televised lies compromise the eye sight 

All that is left brother keep your eyes right 
Verse three 
Purge the anarchy they urge the apathy 
(The west is apathetic)
While those with egos run to the tragedy 
(People running to join isis )
Big majesty rig another ruler 
( royal family preparing next parasite) 
Spin like a hula dead bodies in the cooler 
( brain confusion)
Right track wrong path right smile wrong laugh 
( how extremist faith controls even your emotions)
Soul full of holes maybe take a strong bath 

But the stench of decay just won’t go away 

I’m going grey but today that’s okay 

Money pays for bjs that suck out your dreams 

I’m sitting on the fence cos I’m nobodies team 
(About how wealth sucks out your existence )

Ustad Alaudin Khan – by Ritwik Ghatak

(24 mins of music doco from 1963)

someone asked why I posted this. . OK. Maybe because Alaudin Khan was the father of Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi, uncle of Raja Hossain Khan, and guru of Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vasant Rai, Pannalal Ghosh and more…

And that isn’t even to get started on the great films Ritwik Ghatak.

Seismographic Sounds: Visions of a New World

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«Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World» introduces you to a contemporary world of distinct music, sounds and music videos. Edited by Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter and Hannes Liechti. – See more at:

Scholars, journalists, bloggers and musicians from Bolivia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Switzerland and forty-six other countries discuss artistic expressions that may not make big headlines yet, but anticipate major changes to come. Produced in oftentimes small studios from Jakarta to La Paz, Cape Town to Helsinki, these works experiment with the new possibilities of the Internet age and illuminate new spaces beyond the confines of commercialism, propaganda, and bigotry. They foresee a changing geography of multi-layered modernities, far beyond old ideas of North versus South, West versus East. Discover this through a collage of articles, quotations, photographs and lyrics.

«This is a remarkable book. It is brilliantly messy, complex and compelling, just like the diversity of global musical life it celebrates and interrogates in fact.» Tony Herrington, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher, The Wire
Content and Introduction

Download PDF for Content and Introduction


Seismographic Sounds – Visions of a New World
Editors: Theresa Beyer, Thomas Burkhalter, Hannes Liechti
Publisher: Norient
Year: 2015
Pages: 504
Edition: 1
Price: 29 CHF / 29 Euro
Graphic Design: gut & schön, Annegreth Schärli

– See more at:

Travelling Archive #bengal #music

Here is a recording project by old friends from Bengal Moushumi Bhowmik and Sukanta Majumdar – recordings that deserve lingering listening. Its not a website to scan and leave, it is one to come back to, replay, languid like, I dunno, the river in the Ghatak films or something. Poingnant soundings from Bauls, Nazrul Fakir, other stuff. It deserves all support, as they ‘try to show Bengal as a complex/complicated place’…

See them in London at Rich Mix from 22 June to 5 July. In the meantime, listen below:

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