Music and Musicians in Late Mughal India: Histories of the Ephemeral, 1748–1858

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Based on a vast, virtually unstudied archive of Indian writings alongside visual sources, this book presents the first history of music and musicians in late Mughal India c.1748–1858 and takes the lives of nine musicians as entry points into six prominent types of writing on music in Persian, Brajbhasha, Urdu and English, moving from Delhi to Lucknow, Hyderabad, Jaipur and among the British. It shows how a key Mughal cultural field responded to the political, economic and social upheaval of the transition to British rule, while addressing a central philosophical question: can we ever recapture the ephemeral experience of music once the performance is over? These rich, diverse sources shine new light on the wider historical processes of this pivotal transitional period, and provide a new history of music, musicians and their audiences during the precise period in which North Indian classical music coalesced in its modern form.

* Establishes for the first time how, why, and through whom Hindustani music attained its modern classical form during the crucial century of transition from Mughal to British rule.
* Introduces a large new set of historical writings on Indian music in several different genres; each chapter provides in-depth concrete examples of how to read and understand these writings in wider context.
* Reintroduces us to the principal musicians celebrated at this time and shows how stories—the testimonies of historical listeners and performers—enrich our understanding of what music meant and how it was experienced then.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages306
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2023


  • music
  • history
  • India
  • Mughal
  • British
  • colonialism
  • paracolonial
  • musicians
  • writings on music
  • ephemerality
  • Persian
  • Urdu
  • Hindi


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