Music and the Radical Impulse: The IPTA Tradition and Beyond
– By Dr. Sumangala Damodaran
Using the Radical Impulse as a concept to denote a process of questioning and reorganising the aesthetic order in the arts and among artists in the first half of the twentieth century in different parts of the world, it will demonstrate how a tradition such as that of the IPTA used music to raise and respond to critical political questions of the time. Through a description of the corpus of music from the tradition, it will discuss the relevance of some of the experiences of music making in the IPTA tradition and the debates that took place for contemporary times.
Sumangala Damodaran is an economist who is working in the School of Development Studies at Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD). She has been involved with the cultural protest movement in Delhi from the early nineteen eighties onwards and was part of a protest song group called Parcham from the early eighties to the early nineties in Delhi. Over this period and later as well, she has worked with Safdar Hashmi and his street theatre group Jana Natya Manch as well as with theatre personalities like Habib Tanvir and Prasanna.
She has also, in recent years, been involved with research and teaching in Popular Music Studies and is involved with the setting up of the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at AUD in this capacity. Beginning from an independent research fellowship of Sarai, Centre for Studies in Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, she has been involved in research and documentation of a forgotten musical tradition, that of the Indian People’s Theatre Association, from the 1940s and 1950s. She has lectured on the subject at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi, various colleges in Delhi University and at the Centre for India Studies in Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and has also written a book based on the research entitled The Radical Impulse – Music in the Tradition of the Indian People`s Theatre Association. She has also performed from this repertoire extensively in different parts of the country.