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DE – Raga CDs of the Month (09/2012): “Women in Indian Classical Music – Wind and Stringed instruments”

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on September 14, 2012

Rasoolan Bai

Rasoolan Bai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In part 1 of our series “Women in Indian classical music” we have met the singing queens of India, like the vocalist from Varanasi Rasolan Bai (b. 1902). Her life moved again into the public consciousness with the documentary “Rasoolan Bai – The other Song” (2009) and thus of the Tawaifs, the courtesans. They practiced the arts in the courts of the maharajas till the 60s of 20th century. At the Moghul courts, rulers of Persia who occupied the north of India in the 14th to 16 century girls had been trained in the performing arts, as in Kathak, the North Indian dance, in Indian classical music and literature and poetry forms, such as Ghazals and Thumri-s.

English: Gangubai Hangal (1913-2009) and daugh...

English: Gangubai Hangal (1913-2009) and daughter Krishna (c. 1929-2004) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In southern India, however, the pursuit of the arts was reserved for members of the Brahmins, a priestly caste. The women had a hard time to perform with the arts in public. One of the first independent artists in South India was Nagaratnammal Bangalore (1878-1952). For her publishing of erotic literature written by the courtesan Muddu Palani she was front Indian Court in 1911.

In our recent time great singers like Dr. Gangubai Hangal (1912-2009) have broken the gender barrier and paved access for women to the workforce in Indian music.

But still the image of women is glorified. Thus, prominent singers like DK Pattammal, MS Subbalakshmi and ML Vasanthakumari are seen as avatars, as triumvirate of goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This ‘Era of the Divine’ helped at least to break the male dominance in the South Indian classical music.

Part 1 of “Women in Indian classical music” can be re-listened in our media archive in fully length simultaneously with re-reading of the moderation script (1:1 reprint).

dates of broadcasting…

17th September 2012 – 05:00-05:58 pm EST (11:00-11:58 pm CET) @ TIDE Radio (DE)
(premiere (2 hours long version): 16th Sept 2012 – 09:00-11:00 am EST @ radio
broadcasting plan | streaming (Internet Radio & Mobile Radio) | podCast

In the second part of our series “Women in Indian Classical Music” the promotion initiative IMC – India meets Classic presents female musicians of wind & string instruments. E.g. the Shehnai, Saxophone, Indian flute (Bansuri) and Indian lutes (called Veena-s) and Sarod, Surbahar (bass sitar) and Vichitra Veena.

f.l.t.r.:  Bageshwari Qamar – Shehnai, Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar – Bansuri,
MS Subbalaxmi & MS Lavanya – Saxophon Sisters (Photo credit:,,

f.l.t.r.: Annapurna Devi – Surbahar, Sharan Rani Backliwal (1929-2008) – Sarod, Dr. Radhika Umdekar Budhkar – Vichitra Veena
(Photo credit: Private collection of Mohan D. Nadkarni/Kamat’s Potpourri,,

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