M.A.P // A.M.P Music Library aims to create a repository of activist music, which will serve as an archive to amplify the reach of music as an expression and a tool of social and political activism. This library is an effort to bring together such voices from the region that may have gone unheard. In the process, we hope to create a rich and diverse range of activist music that will span all genres and generations of music and poetry.
Set #1: MAPping-AMPlifying Anti-Caste Voices
This week's playlist is composed of anti-caste songs from different languages in India, that have been produced in the last 6 years. In South Asia, caste is the most visible and dominant social category.
Ranging from genres such as Rap, Hip-Hop, Shahiri, Mission singing, these songs are part of the anti-caste struggle and call for constitutionalism as the way forward. Coming from different regions, these voices of resistance are in a long line of anti-caste cultural production that deploys local folk traditions and genres of protest music from across the globe.
Set #2: MAPping-AMPlifying Anti-Majoritarian Voices
This week we are bringing songs against majoritarianism from South Asia. This playlist presents a South Asia, where religion has been a defining marker in the making of and debates around modern nation-states.
In her song, Moushumi Bhowmik speaks about the majority-minority debate among the Hindu and the Muslim communities in India and Bangladesh, respectively. Ammar Rashid from Pakistan is singing iconic Dastoor by Habib Jalib, who refuses to bow down to the establishment that negates people's voices. Similarly India’s Aamir Aziz refuses to give up his rights as a citizen and speaks about institutional violence on minorities. Finally, Armaan and Ajmal sing about the religious identity that erases some crimes while penalizing the innocence of others. With a mix of Urdu protest poetry and contemporary music genres of protest, these songs question the anti-minority polity in the region.
Through this week's songs, we remember the demonetization or 'notebandi' that the prime minister of India announced on 8th November 2016. On this day, widespread currency notes of Rs. 500 and 1000 were withdrawn from circulation.
This decision changed the lives of millions in the country. What followed was unprecedented countrywide havoc that forced people to stand in endless lines for months, leaving them starving, dying, and crumbling down under severe economic pressure. Memories of that collective experience were expressed through various songs, in which they tell about the plights of the poorest of the poor, daily wage laborers, and women who were pushed to the brink of death and destitution. Even after five years, the effects of the aftermath of demonetization are a sad reality of everyday lives. In the form of satire, poetry, and parody, these songs mark the resistance that stood against the high-voltage pro-demonetization propaganda of that time.
This week continues from the last week's playlist about demonetization. From Bhojpuri, Tamil and Hindi, these songs are from the genres such as parody, songs of resistance. Many of the groups/individuals listed this week are identify themselves as protest musicians and part of the people's movement based in Bihar, Maharashtra, and Delhi and travel across the country with their music. Playlist
This week's playlist is covering the historic farmer protest as it enters into one anniversary. With 700+ farmers martyred in the cause, the world's largest and longest mass protest has changed the image of protest for this generation.
Music had played a pivotal role in mobilization, sustenance and inspired people when the situation seemed gloomy. In addition, the farmer protest brought a significant proliferation of music production, unparalleled in recent history. This week's playlist includes songs in Hindi, Punjabi, Bangla, and Haryanavi languages. These songs have been an integral part of the protest, from rap to poetry recitation and multi-artist collaborations. In addition, many singers have been participating in the protest actively.
This week's playlist continues to cover the music born out of farmer protest. All the songs this week are in Punjabi. From pop music, Giddha, and Boli genres, the week covers field recording from the protest site.
One of the songs by Noor Zora is a recording of a wedding. The boli sung by women in the field recording creates the contemporary song about farmer protest, underlining the vitality and contemporariness of folk music. Kanwar Grewal and Harf Cheema have been part of the movement from day one and created a large body of songs on the movement, which kind of became an integral part of the soundscape of the movement.
We continue the playlist with songs on the farmer protest this week as part of its one-year celebration. It has tracks from folk genres of Punjab sung by protesters (Modi Kamle Nu) and a parody track (Care Ni Karda) by a young musician Vijaywant.
These tracks reinforce the idea that a popular movement brings creative energy to the larger society and creates broader social solidarity. "Nee Anjathey," a multi-lingual song sung by Bindhumalini and Vedanth in solidarity with the farmer's protest. Kanwar Grewal's "Ailaan" reiterates the farmer's ethical, moral, and political right to decide the price of produce with a veiled reference to the Dilli's (union government) infringement of federal structure to favor the crony capitalist. Finally, through the metaphor of border that almost became synonymous with the protest site/Morcha, Madan Gopal Singh's soulful song provides a very poignant soundscape that envelops the protest site beyond sloganeering and passion.
Against all odds, the farmer protest has broken new grounds and revived the spirit of the democratic nation. On 19th November 2021Indian PM announced the repeal of the farm laws, and the parliament passed the same on the 29th November 2021.
The Farmers body took a couple of weeks and, after much deliberation on the govt.'s written assurance on all significant demands, called off the movement for now. This week's playlist consists of songs celebrating the victory of the movement. The movement continued its streak of being historic, unprecedented on many counts, culminating in registering a thumping win.
This week's playlist was the final one of the Farmer Protest playlists and includes songs in Punjabi, Marathi, and Haryanavi. The Marathi song asks, "how do I continue farming," while the Rabbi's song Raj Singh raises the farmer suicide issue.
Suren Satnam's song invokes the farmers to unite and fight. Nikk E Nikk's first song, a Boli, and the second one a Dhadi style song are compositions in folk music that narrate the farmer's protests at Delhi. Ending this series with a focus on the agrarian crisis signifies the need for a resolution of still unfulfilled demands and the long walk ahead until the agrarian crisis is over.
This week's playlist consisted of songs about the constitution's value in the lives of marginalized citizens. The majority of the people who cherish the constitution do so because it is the only guiding principle that can ensure their dignified and equitable life and opportunities in this highly unequal society.
The first song by Manzil Mystic is a beautiful rendition of the preamble in English, followed by Aarsha's unity song that is sung in all 22 languages listed in the constitution. Kunal Warale (Hindi) and Rahul Ruhi and Sachin Kumar's (Marathi) songs recite the constitutional values of equality and dignity. Finally, Neha Singh's Bhojpuri song is a beautiful recitation of fundamental rights given by the constitution.
Various people's movements and campaigns have prominently employed constitutionalism and the reading of the constitution as a part of protest. Prominent among them is the Anti-CAA-NRC protest.
This week's playlist consists of songs revolving around citizenship and equality and represents people's fight for their rights, from Naveen Chourey's poem on lynching to Amir Aziz's poem chronicling the state's excess, this week's playlist.
When the pandemic hit the world late in 2019, the concept of the ‘lockdown’ ceased the social life of people and communities. In these unprecedented circumstances, a video from Italy took over the internet.
People in an Italian town sang from their windows and balconies, which raised morale. The song "Bella Ciao," an old partisan Italian song, became an anthem of hope against adversity. This anti-fascist song was popularized during the mid-20th century across the globe as a part of progressive movements. People in many countries around the world created their own renditions. This week’s playlist transitioned from a focus on India to a more global profile and included not only the Italian version but also Punjabi, Marathi, Bangla, and sign language renditions.
Continuing the Bella Ciao series, this week's playlist includes French, Spanish, Armenian, German, Portugese, and Italian renditions.
Originating in the 19th Century, the song is about the exploitative nature of working conditions at the time and resentment against it. This working class song was adapted in the 1940s as an anti-fascist song during WWII. In contemporary times, a renewed interest in this song sparked off with a recent tele series, "Money Heist," (originally in Spanish but dubbed into multiple languages).
This week, the Bella Ciao series comes to South and East Asia, with an aggregated list of songs from Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, China, and Nepal, signifying the popularity of Bella Ciao as a protest song across the globe. Most of these songs are produced locally by activist-artists. Playlist
The concluding episode of the Bella Ciao playlist includes renditions in Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, and Russian.
The Arabic version features a performance of a western music arrangement. The Kurdish version has been sung by Chia Madni showing the Kurdish yearning for freedom. Shekib Mosadeq has produced the Persian version of ‘Bella Ciao'. In the Russian versions include a rendition by the Red Army choir and other one by an amateur group.
Mukesh Kulriya is a Ph.D. scholar in Ethnomusicology, Herb Alpert School of Music, University of California, Los Angeles, the USA. In addition, he studied for a year at the Department of Music, Royal Holloway, University of London.
He previously received an M.Phil in Theater and Performance Studies and a Master’s degree in Arts and Aesthetics, both from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Mukesh’s research focuses on the intersection of music and religion in South Asia in the context of gender and caste. His Ph.D. research will examine bhakti, or devotion, in women’s folk songs of Rajasthan, India, with a particular interest in the communitarian spirit of the bhakti and Sufi movements as quest for an egalitarian society. The project will also look at the cultural economy of the music festival and shifting patronage patterns. His M.Phil dissertation, titled Jama, Mela, and Parcha: Cultural Enactments of Ramdev or Ramsa Pir, focused on Ramdev, a 14th-century Northern Indian saint. Since 2010, Mukesh has collaborated on India-based projects centered around craft, culture, folk music, and oral traditions as an organizer, archivist, translator, and researcher. In addition, he is associated with Rajasthan Kabir Yatra (https://www.rajasthankabiryatra.org), an annual traveling folk music festival.