FLAME University



Shabd aur Sangeet
21st - 22nd January 2017

The study of song- texts essentially demands inquiry and discussion from diverse fields like musicology, ethnomusicology, linguistics, literary studies, and phonology amidst several others. As has been eloquently stated by scholars Myfany Turpin and Tonya Stebbins, “songs to be highly structured art forms that have the ability to convey complex associations of meaning beyond everyday spoken language.”

In India, where oral traditions predate hand scripted manuscripts or printed compilations, poets with vastly varied literary impulses, from bhakti to riti, have for centuries written poems prescribing musical rendering in specific raags, taals and genres. There also exists a flourishing tradition of musicians and composers selectively extracting a few lines from a larger existing poem or narrative verse for use in forms that demand relatively less wordiness. Briefly then, there is ample evidence to prove that the giving, sharing, borrowing and lending between literature and music is in itself an established tradition in India where the vaggeyakar or song composer is often both poet and music composer. In the contemporary context, where music is as much ‘seen’ as heard ,the study and analysis of song-text in India must therefore be an interdisciplinary and collaborative activity between musicians, composers, musicologists, ethnomusicologists and scholars and postgraduate students of literature, linguistics, cultural studies, history, sociology, psychology, media, theatre, film and music.

A two - day International Conference on song- texts is proposed for teachers, students, practitioners, independent researchers and others who might be interested across various disciplines. Papers are invited on the following themes and any others that fall within the rubric of Indian song- texts. The conference to be held on Flame University Campus on January 21 & 22, 2017 is being mentored by renowned exponents Shubha Mudgal and Dr. Aneesh Pradhan.

1: Song -texts in India: An Overview

  • Literary figures/saint poets/spiritual thinkers who wrote verses and indicated that they would like them rendered in song, perhaps for ease in memorising. So Kabir, Meera, Sur and other anthologies prescribe specific raags for their verses although we have no way of knowing if indeed these were prescribed by the lyricists/poets themselves.
  • Song writers or vaggeyakars who write complete musical compositions, including melody, rhythm and lyrics
  • Manipulation/selection processes applied to existing song texts. Musicians choose to select extracts from an existing long poem and render them in song. What we might like to discuss and examine are the reasons that make a composer or performer select certain couplets from a long ghazal and discard some couplets? The same happens with stanzas in bhajans as well. Why are certain stanzas not rendered and others included? The transformations or mutilations as some might like to term such a process of selection.
  • Song texts written to a tune/melody provided by a composer, as often happens in Indian films - a composer providing a melodic mould of sorts into which the lyricist fits song text on demand.
  • Song- texts written in different languages – translation and adaptation of song- texts

2: Songs of Protest and Resistance

  • Protest in songs from the Bhakti Movement. Specific points of resistance expressed in these songs- against caste, Brahmanical tyranny, untouchability etc.
  • The ghazal and nazm as protest
  • Songs from the Independence movement
  • Protest represented in popular music

3: The love song

  • The erotic in song-texts
  • Gender specific imagery in love songs
  • Nature in love songs
  • The confidante or sakhi in love songs
  • Same sex love in song-texts
  • Love song in Indian films

4: Song-text in a rapidly changing world

  • Song texts in advertising jingles and commercials
  • Song texts for political campaigns and political parties
  • Parody and comedy in song texts
  • English song texts written by Indians
  • Multi lingual song texts
  • Song like texts
  • Submission of a 300 word abstract (with 3-5 keywords) and a 100 word bio-note to be sent to - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Last date of abstract submission: 10th October, 2016
  • Notification of Selection: 17th October, 2016
  • Paper Submission: 15th December, 2016

Please clearly mention in your bio-note if you are currently enrolled as a postgraduate student or PhD Research Scholar in any university.

Conference Registration Fees inclusive of conference kit and meals

  • Full Time Faculty – Rs. 3,000
  • PhD Students/Independent Research Scholars - Rs. 2,000
  • Postgraduate Students – Rs. 1,000
  • Non-delegate participants – Rs. 200 per day (without meals)

Limited guest house accommodation is available on campus. Accommodation charges are separate.

The seminar will also include invited speakers and endeavour to create a dialogue between academics and music practitioners through curated panel discussions.

An edited volume is also envisaged, based on the seminar papers.