It all began a little over a hundred years ago when Indian music was first captured on technology. This changed the listening experience of music perhaps forever. It opened a new chapter and paved the way for the making of singing sensations, stars and redefined the world of entertainment in ways that we still see some impact into the 21st Century. The early 20th Century was vibrant and active and brought with it many exciting new developments in the world of music and performance. And clearly women were at the forefront of this phenomenon. Women in the 78 rpm Gramophone era made a significant contribution to Indian art, music, literature and were involved in theatre and film. They have had a profound influence on subsequent performance music.

The advent of sound recording in India had far-reaching social and musical effects, disseminating various genres of music to a mass audience for the first time. This was the first fascinating encounter between technology and music. The vocalists took on the challenge presented by this new technology  of presenting their work in approximately three minutes, this given the innately improvisatory nature of Indian music. Collectors estimate that the number of records issued in India would amount to about half a million  a large corpus of which remains unheard of and inaccessible to contemporary audiences.

Experiencing Sound
Women on Record combines newer technologies with contemporary art practices in collaboration with artist communities traversing across film, photography, scenography, dance, theater and music. The art practices come together to recreate the ambience of the gramophone era. The idea of reviving interest in the immense contributions made by these artists in the late 19th and early 20th century lends itself to immense visual possibilities given that their lives were about music, theater, film and overall entertainment.

The Event was inaugurated by Hon'ble Chief Guest Smt. Gursharan Kaur and Shri Chinmaya R. Gharekhan, President, IGNCA Trust was the Guest of Honour.




View Graphics

View Media Coverage

View Comments

Some of the Performers or Gaanewali of that era
Gauhar Jan
Zohrabai Agrewali
Janaki Bai
Jaddan Bai
Kesar Bai Kerkar

Discussion: Online dissemination model on women performers and technologies

Centre for Media and Alternative Communication  recently launched a website on its project Women on Record a celebration music, women and technology in 20th Century India. The link to the website is www.womenonrecord.com The main idea of the project was to mainstream and bring out stories of women performers, Diva's of their time, through a performance and an exhibition. Most of them have been forgotten in public memory despite their significant contributions to Indian culture.The project came into existence after an initial research, planning and design last year through a
performance, exhibition and a seminar and has now been launched as a website to make these ideas
more accessible to audiences across the world.


CMAC is supported by FORD FOUNDATION for project Women on Record

Prior permission should be taken by CMAC for the use of content in any form.
© Centre for Media and Alternative Communication

CMAC - WOMEN ON RECORD - Art and Culture