Last week, we discussed the introduction of programme notes in Hindustani concerts way back in the late nineteenth century. Understandably, the intention to formalise concert repertoire in a manner and to inform audiences about the chosen concert repertoire did not find wide acceptance in programmes held by music circles and music festivals, as the general mood that prevailed in Hindustani concerts was prompted by the repertoire being chosen or modified spontaneously according to the performer’s mood and in keeping with requests coming in from the audience.
However, the attempt at informing audiences about concert repertoire was carried forward to Hindustani music broadcasts on All India Radio run by the colonial government and even later by the government of India. Evidently, early broadcasts, most of which were done live in the AIR studios, required performers to submit details of the repertoire that they wished to present.
The AIR contract even today mentions this requirement, but it does not seem to be an inflexible detail for programmes that are scheduled for broadcast on local stations. But for music recorded for the National Programme of Music that is then broadcast nationwide, it is a prerequisite for performers to submit three options of the repertoire or set that they wish to present. The Delhi station of the AIR then chooses one among the three and performers have to comply with this choice.
But in the past, programming of repertoire was planned well in advance even for local stations. This is evident from listings of broadcasts scheduled for the forthcoming fortnight published since December 1935 by the AIR in its periodical The Indian Listener. These broadcasts pertained to all recorded and live programmes scheduled for the Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta stations of the All India Radio, in addition to those that were to be broadcast from other stations overseas including the BBC.
Programming for the Indian stations seem to have generally followed the time prescriptions for various raags, but for a few exceptions. For instance, the listing of programmes to be broadcast on the Delhi station on Monday, December 14, 1936, as published in Volume 1, Issue no 23, of The Indian Listener published on November 22, 1936, includes the following Hindustani programmes in its first transmission on that day (8 am to 10.30 am):
1. A medley of recorded music consisting of songs, bhajans, ghazals, kajris, raag-based khayals and thumris, and instrumental music, all of which were performed by different artistes. This programming does not seem to have followed a particular raag-time equation, as Nat Kamod (mistakenly identified as Kamod), a raag prescribed for the night, was broadcast in the morning between 8 and 9 am, and Bahar, a raag prescribed for the spring season, usually appearing in January-February, was broadcast in December.
2. The live broadcasts followed the raag-time equation, with the inclusion of raags like Shukla Bilawal (Sukel Bilawal), Jogiya, Gunkali (Gun Kari), and Desi, prescribed for the morning.
We do not have access to recordings of many early broadcasting artistes, but we can imagine the possible musicscape that was created by these broadcasts by lining up similar melodic material. I have tried to do that by choosing some of the music that featured Hindustani musicians in Transmission I on the Delhi station of the AIR as part of the recorded music category.
We begin with Narayanrao Vyas singing a bhajan Radhe Krishna Bol.
Kamla Jharia sings a ghazal Aeidiltu us galimein.
Bahar sung by Laxmi Bai of Baroda.
We conclude with Nat Kamod sung by Laxmi Bai.