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Imaging Sound

Bonnie C. Wade (Author)
Synopsis The rulers of the Mughal Empire of India, who reigned from 1526 to 1858, spared no expense as patrons of the arts, particularly painting and music. They left as their legacy an extraordinarily rich body of commissioned artistic projects including illustrated manuscripts and miniature paintings that represent musical instruments, portraits of musicians, and the compositions of ensembles. These images form the basis of Bonnie C. Wade's study of how musicians of Hindustan encountered and Indianized music from the Persian cultural sphere. Combining ethnomusicological and art historical methods with history and lore, Wade has written a truly interdisciplinary study of cultural life on the Indian subcontinent. Wade focuses first on Akbar, showing how political and cultural agendas intertwined in the portrayal of Mughal court life. She then follows the depictions of music-making through paintings of Akbar's successors, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, to trace the gradual synthesis of Persian and Indian culture. Because music of the period was not notated but was transmitted orally, Wade relies on this wealth of visual evidence to reconstruct the musical life of the Mughals and its relation to the Mughal political agenda. As a major untapped resource, these images suggest new interpretations of the history of the Mughal Empire--including original ideas about the role of patrons in the production of the arts and, importantly, the role of women in Mughal court life--that are confirmed and complemented by the written sources of the period. Imaging Sound is a contribution to many fields in its unique combination of sources and methods: it is the study of musical change; of image-making in the past and the methodological use of images as "texts" in the present; of the role of patronage in the Mughal Empire; and of the development of South Asian culture. In her synthesis of music, literature, art, and culture, Wade deepens our knowledge of the manner in which the orally transmitted tradition of Hindustani music came to be what it is today. The book is beautifully illustrated with more than 180 reproductions of Mughal paintings and manuscripts. These rare images are the basis for a study that is fully immersed both in current intellectual debates and in three centuries of Mughal cultural life.
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About the author

Bonnie C. Wade

Bonnie C. Wade is Professor, Department of Music, University of California at Berkeley, California.

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Bibliographic information

Title Imaging Sound
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1999
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195650328
length 276p., Illustration; Maps.