Hidden Histories

Primers, snapshots, and oddball tales from around the wide, colourful world of South Asian music – classical, dance, folk, fusion, & more

Early explorers: the first Indian travellers to Britain (1600-1900)

Today, nearly two million Indians live in the United Kingdom – around 1 in 40 of the nation’s total population. While the vast majority arrived in multiple waves of post-WW2 migrations, Subcontinental travellers had been reaching and settling in Britain for at least 350 years before this. Here, we take you on a brief tourContinue reading “Early explorers: the first Indian travellers to Britain (1600-1900)”

Rabindrasangeet: the songs of Tagore, a broad-minded Bengali icon

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for she was born in another time” Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)  The songs of Bengali icon Rabindranath Tagore are collectively known as Rabindrasangeet. Western writers, ever-prone to compress Indian phenomena into their own pre-shaped boxes, often describe Tagore as the ‘Indian Shakespeare’ – although the Bard’s interests wereContinue reading “Rabindrasangeet: the songs of Tagore, a broad-minded Bengali icon”

Improvising away from discrimination: How jazz was thriving in 1920s India

The so-called ‘Indo-jazz’ scene goes back a long way. Star improvisers of the East and West have always taken a fascination in each other’s music, and many of the genre’s established masterpieces, such as Shakti’s Natural Elements and John Coltrane’s Impressions, came to fruition half a century ago. However, few seem to realise that unique strains of jazzContinue reading “Improvising away from discrimination: How jazz was thriving in 1920s India”

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