Chennai: Culture at the Cusp of Change

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Author(s)
Mani, Charulatha
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Ballico, Christina

Watson, Allan

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2020
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Abstract

The chapter offers a critical appraisal of the current musical context in the South Asian city of Chennai, India. Chennai’s uniquely traditional structures and circumstances are presented from the panoramic insider perspective of a researcher who was a Chennai-based successful performer for over two decades and is currently positioned as an insider-outsider, a globally active artist/scholar in a Western country. In examining the organisational structures that underpin the city’s identity as a music city, this discussion juxtaposes these structures against the dominant discourse around Music Cities, a burgeoning field of scholarship in the West. Drawing on literature, policy, interviews of Chennai-based artists, art critics and art-sector entrepreneurs, and personal experience and reflections, this chapter follows a discursive path as it unfolds over a string of related themes, from funding and tourism to music education and heritage. In conclusion, the chapter identifies areas for Chennai growth as a Music City by drawing on music cities scholarship. It also identifies and acknowledges the unique time-tested mechanisms that drive Chennai’s music city profile forward and offers few of these as models that could be integrated into current music city policies of the West as a contribution from an ancient culture of South Asia.

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Music Cities: Evaluating a Global Cultural Policy Concept

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Music performance

Musicology and ethnomusicology

Asian cultural studies

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Mani, C, Chennai: Culture at the Cusp of Change, Music Cities: Evaluating a Global Cultural Policy Concept, 2020, pp. 103-125

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