1st Edition

Hindi Film Songs and the Cinema

By Anna Morcom Copyright 2008
    306 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Since their beginnings in the 1930s, Hindi films and film songs have dominated Indian public culture in India, and have also made their presence felt strongly in many global contexts. Hindi film songs have been described on the one hand as highly standardized and on the other as highly eclectic. Anna Morcom addresses many of the paradoxes eccentricities and myths of not just Hindi film songs but also of Hindi cinema by analysing film songs in cinematic context. While the presence of songs in Hindi films is commonly dismissed as ’purely commercial’, this book demonstrates that in terms of the production process, musical style, and commercial life, it is most powerfully the parent film that shapes and defines the film songs and their success rather than the other way round. While they constitute India’s still foremost genre of popular music, film songs are also situational, dramatic sequences, inherently multi-media in style and conception. This book is uniquely grounded in detailed musical and visual analysis of Hindi film songs, song sequences and films as well as a wealth of ethnographic material from the Hindi film and music industries. Its findings lead to highly novel ways of viewing Hindi film songs, their key role in Hindi cinema, and how this affects their wider life in India and across the globe. It will be indispensable to scholars seeking to understand both Hindi film songs and Hindi cinema. It also forms a major contribution to popular music, popular culture, film music studies and ethnomusicology, tackling pertinent issues of cultural production, (multi-)media, and the cross-cultural use of music in Hindi cinema. The book caters for both music specialists as well as a wider audience.

    Contents: The cinematic study of Hindi film songs; The production process of Hindi film songs; The musical style of Hindi film songs; Music, narrative and meaning in Hindi films; The commercial life of Hindi film songs; The audience reception of Hindi film songs in and beyond the parent film; Conclusions; Bibliography; Filmography; List of interviews; Glossary of Indian terms; Index.


    Anna Morcom is RCUK Academic Fellow in the Music Department at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

    ’... this is a book that throws up several interesting new ways of appreciating the most immediately captivating of all musical styles ... it offers deep analytical anchors for further discussion of a vital and vivacious musical form that is only now beginning to make its astonishingly creative identity known to the wider world.’ Songlines Magazine ’... the book adds much to our understanding, especially of the industrial and aesthetic processes of song and film production.’ Music, Sound and the Moving Image ’The research is grounded in ethnomusicology, but will have applicability to film studies, and the broader study of music and narrative. Morcom demonstrates the vulnerability of musical style to the overriding importance of 'situation' (the Mumbai film industry's term for narrative context) in Hindi cinema. This earns the volume a significant place in the literature. ...This research is primarily a picture of the Mumbai film industry in the 1990s. As such, its value is unquestionable.’ Theatre and Performance ’[This book] gave me an insight into on which premises ethnomusicology is established and it certainly taught me to be more sensitive to the various ways in which sound conveys meaning, which is possibly the biggest lesson of the book - to give a thought to the various sounds and their interplay with the visual [...] and their ways to express, convey and reproduce meaning.’ antropologi.info/blog 'Anna Morcom's book adds much to the understanding of Hindi film songs, is an important addition to the study of Hindi cinema and is a pleasure to read.' Asian Ethnology '[An] important foundational study of the industrial and artistic processes of song and cinema production.' Ethnomusicology Forum