TAPSA: Scattering Pearls: Music, Emotion, and Sociality in the Early Modern Deccan

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 – 5pm, Foster Hall 103

Zoë Woodbury High, PhD Candidate, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

This talk examines the social culture of musical performance in the Deccan Sultanate of Bijapur during the reign of Ibrahim ‘Adil Shah II (1580-1627): a king who famously crafted a political persona around theoretical and practical knowledge of instrumental and vocal music. Examining histories, poems, manuscripts, and paintings from Ibrahim’s reign, I address the questions of 1. what social conditions made it possible for this Muslim king to claim authority in rāga-based music and 2. what his project of self-fashioning based on musical knowledge tells us about the perceived uses, dangers, and possibilities of music in early modern South Asia. I propose that these questions can only be answered by moving away from a view of the sultan as individual genius and towards attention to networks of musical patronage, performance, and practice in which he participated.