They Sing the Wedding of God

An Ethnomusicological Study of the Mahadevji ka byavala as Performed by the Nath-Jogis of Alwar

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About the Book

In Rajasthan, India, a caste of musicians and mendicants, the Nath-Jogis, sing stories of kings who renounce their thrones to become wandering mendicants. They also sing of a god, Mahadeva, Shiva, who must abandon his world-renouncing life and marry, thus establishing the very caste that tells his story. This is the first detailed ethnomusicological study of the music of this caste, examining how the existential questions of the sung stories—of the conflict between loyalty to families or communities and the transcending desire to renounce the material world—are articulated in musical performances in which the caste’s own ethnography is inscribed.
Discussing the relationship between the performed repertoire and the caste’s identity, the contexts of performance and ways in which familiar stories are effectively retold, the book offers a transcription, translation and musical and ethnographic analysis of one performance, by Kishori Nath, and shows how the questions the performances project are not merely speculative acts of self-identification but also challenges to audiences to consider their own responses.

About the Author(s)

John Napier is a senior lecturer in musicology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. As well as publishing internationally, he has spent nearly two decades introducing students to the “life-changing wonders” of India’s many musics, as well as helping them better understand the joys of their own traditions.

Bibliographic Details

John Napier
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 352
Bibliographic Info: 153 photos, glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7140-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0213-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii

A Note on Transliteration viii

Preface 1

Introduction 3

One : Tonight You Will Hear the Wedding of God 9

Two : The Many Voices of the Jogi 24

Three : Singing the Wedding of God 39

Four : Why a God Should Marry 67

Five : A (Mis)Guided Search 136

Six : The Wedding 211

Seven : An Exceptional Performance, and a Contract with Tradition 267

Eight : Parvati Rebound? 279

Nine : Orientations, Mediations, Directions 293

Glossary 301

Appendix A—List of Performances and Recordings 303

Appendix B—Episodic Structure 305

Appendix C—Transcription of Thik 2 309

Appendix D—Repeated Melodies, Introduction of New Melodies, etc. 313

Appendix E—Single Melodies and Voicing 316

Appendix F—Doha and Voicing 318

Chapter Notes 323

Bibliography 337

Index 341