What were the earliest recordings from India like? Now you can find out
What were the earliest recordings from India like? Now you can find out.
Spending an hour with Gilles Aubry and Robert Millis is like a history lesson you didn’t even know you were missing. It’s packed with nuggets of information about the early days of sound recording in India. Aubry and Millis have collaborated on Jewel of the Ear, a series of recordings that document what India would have sounded like if you’d been around from 1902 onwards, including bits of speeches by the Prince of Wales, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi and the crackling of fires and prayer chants at Manikarnika ghat in Varanasi.
The researchers claim that music recording in India goes back to 1902, when European and American companies began to look at India as a music market. They didn’t have it easy. “In India, music is an oral tradition, handed down from teacher to student, not written down, not learned from recordings,” says Millis, who also visited Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and other cities to learn about Indian music. He has also just completed a book on the early gramophone years in India, putting together his experience with Indian collectors.