SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

SSAI Sanglaap: Audio-Visual Learning Resource Project

SSAI Sanglaap: Audio-Visual Learning Resource Project


Keeping language and communication of ideas as the focus, this video music project aims to develop multimedia and multi-lingual learning resources for Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, Tamil language learners giving students the opportunity to see and listen to indigenous musicians, expressions and their world views. Similar to the purpose of ethnomusicology, the resources are for those willing to develop an in-depth knowledge of specific music tradition rooted in regional languages, dialects, lyrical compositions, pronunciation, tone, natural expressions, bodily gestures and vocabulary that is key to understanding South Asian music heritage and state-of-the-art. The documentation reveals the intertwined nature of evolved languages (speech and instrumental) and performances for creative purposes and its sustenance in the public imagination. Using the lens of historical periods of change, personal and familial histories, memory and reflections on contemporary situations, the project draws on artist talks and organisations upholding art as freedom of expression in the emerging socio-cultural normality.


The resources teach students to approach musical learning from the point of practical situations in daily life, adhere to the Guru Shishya Parampara – an alternative heritage learning platform based on routine practise or riyaz, to attain the level of cultural perfection in the transcendental form of sadhana. The video documentation gives a glimpse of customary facets of urban and rural lives, socio-cultural norms, codes of conduct in different stages of disciplined learning, inter-generational expectations, languages and dialects that connect students to real-life situations and understand communities embedded in historically rich oral and aural traditions. By listening to the video collection, students can develop their language learning and comprehend the role of language in musical traditions of singing, and world views in musical compositions. They listen to the voices of significant female artists, gendered life stories, musical instructions rooted in multiple faith, regions and places of origin, the itinerant characteristics of evolutionary instrumental sound and cosmopolitan fusions in diaspora communities.

Products, Outputs & Outcomes

The project produces an audio-visual collection of recorded excerpts for the following outcomes:

  • Dialogues with various artists as instructors and learners comprise of items relevant to everyday learning situations from the point of an alternative pedagogy implicit in the Guru Shishya Parampara and its changing digital contours.
  • Video interviews with local artists along with experts and audience feedback from live recordings connect students to the realm of music consumption, the popular view of music styles, aesthetic meanings constructed in the current socio-cultural pandemic life contexts and in the social media domain.
  • Artists display regional costume, indigenous instruments, home settings, community art hubs, material objects and characteristic sites of performance to enable a clearer understanding of traditions in the past and continuities in the present.
  • Spoken words, enunciation, and live performance connect one’s training to different forms of musical patronage, lineage, gharanas or schools of music representing the historical style that is critical to any understanding of the subcontinental performance art.
  • Storytelling about regions (rural, periurban and urban), historical timelines and commentaries on the current state of the pandemic, add significantly to the stock of language learning through performances and familiarise students with context-specific emotions underlying the performances.
  • Reflections also include organisational initiatives to systematically conserve particular genres of musical compositions that are both well and lesser-known.

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