IRC17, Bengaluru, March 03-05, 2017


09. #DigitalMusicAndDigitalReactions

Last updated on Oct 31, 2016.


Description of the Session

This paper aims to discuss digital music and impact on popular culture studies that deal with music. The main difference between non-digital music and digital music is that digital music can be classified and sorted more efficiently and with much greater speed. The presence of relational databases offers the power to merge, mix and match music like never before. What is the impact of this shuffling and matching on genres? How does one do research in this time of fluid music identities? This is one aspect of the session.

Second is exploring the subcultural expression of music by an ex-untouchable caste (Chamars) in Punjab. Two aspects that were central to this study were the lyrical and iconographic content of the aforementioned music, and the acceptability of this music among other castes. Even though the ‘Chamar music’ is disseminated through live concerts locally known as melas, darbars and sant sammelans, it was the Internet sharing platforms like YouTube and Facebook that facilitated wider outreach. The digital age helped this caste group in transcending the stratified media hierarchies and become the producers of their own representations in popular media. From the music videos to the ‘virtual wars’ fought between different caste groups of Punjab, a major chunk of this study’s digital ethnographic data came from sharing and networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The online digital data like comments on YouTube gave more insight into the level of acceptability of such music than the physical questionnaires and face-to-face interviews as respondents felt uneasy around the topic of caste. Having said that, the real identity of these ‘respondents’ is almost always unknown and there is always that ethical dilemma whether to ask permission to quote such postings.

Session Plan

Shivangi Narayan would work on the classificatory aspect of digital data and how it problematizes research on digital music. Sarvpriya Raj would talk about music on digital platforms that explore assertion by erstwhile untouchable groups like Chamars in Punjab. We plan to present a single research paper on this topic and would like it to be published.

Documentation Plan

The reviews of the house and audience would be incorporated in the research paper to compile it for final submission.

Paper Abstracts


Details of the Team

Shivangi Narayan is PhD research scholar at Centre for Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. She is interested in Data and data led governance. She is a former engineer who has now turned to social science. Prior to joining the research program at JNU, she was the technology correspondent for Governance Now Magazine.

Sarvpriya Raj is a PhD research scholar at Centre for Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. She works on Popular Culture and has just submitted her MPhil dissertation on her work on Dalit assertion through popular music in Punjab.