Listening to North Indian Classical Music: How Embodied Ways of Listening Perform Imagined Histories and Social Class

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


With this article, I theorize the sociality of embodied ways of listening
to North Indian classical music. I focus on rasikas (connoisseurs): these
expert listeners are conspicuous at live performances, where they gesture and
comment to express their enjoyment of the music. Based on ethnography and
interviews with musicians and music lovers in Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune, I
argue that rasikas’ embodied, audible listening practices enact shared imagined
histories and perform expertise and social status. Moreover, these listening
behaviors also sustain values of the so- called old middle class in India in the
face of economic and social change.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-233
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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