Lalita du Perron

The Context and Song texts of North Indian Art Music

The vocal genres khyal and thumri in North Indian Art (Hindustani) music are, on the modern
stage, almost always performed by middle-class performers. Although in some strata of society
being a professional performer is not considered an appropriate career for women, the stigma
attached to being a woman on stage is slowly decreasing. Most modern audiences are unaware of the colourful history of the genres they patronise, a history firmly rooted in courtly and courtesan milieus.

In this presentation we will look at some modern video footage of traditional performers, and
analyse how the texts of the songs they sing have been altered through the ages to fit in with the respectable image that Hindustani music has in the modern era.

Lalita du Perron received her Ph.D. from SOAS at the University of London. The resulting book, Hindi Poetry in a Musical Genre, was published by Curzon Routledge in 2007. She is the
linguistic contributor to The Songs of North Indian Art Music which will be published by
Ashgate in 2010. Lalita has recently joined UW-Madison as the Associate Director of the Center for South Asia.