The Music Room – Namita Devidayal

Title: The Music Room
Author: Namita Devidayal
ISBN: 9780312536640
Pages: 320
Release Date: February 3, 2009
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

This is Namita Devidayal’s memoir of her experiences singing Indian classical music.  As a ten-year-old girl, she was forced to attend classes with a woman named Dhondutai.  Though she never was really interested in classical music and thought it was archaic, Devidayal details how sticking with her music lessons, even through her teenage years, college at Princeton, and job as a reporter, affected her.

Review:

When I first picked up The Music Room, I expected something completely different than what I got, based on the dust jacket summary.  I thought it would be about a girl choosing between classical Indian music and modern day life.  In some ways it was about that, but it contained so much more that I didn’t expect.

The Music Room is about the recent history of classical music in India.  Devidayal discusses the history of her teacher, Dhondutai and her teacher’s teacher.  Through the stories of these women, the reader begins to understand the intricacies and politics behind classical music.  Traditionally in India, women who sang were on the same level as courtesans socially.  It was not a path for respectable women.  Devidayal’s discussion shows the prejudices that used to be inherent within Indian society and make the reader ask whether they still exist.

Devidayal also teaches the reader a lot about Indian classical music.  Though I knew the basics, it was riveting to learn all the ins and outs.  Additionally, it was very interesting to learn about religious differences through this subject.  Classical music used to be the purview of Muslims, beginning with one Hindu Brahmin family that converted to Islam.  Hindus have been trying to recapture and become the masters of Indian classical music ever since.

It was really surprising that so many political and cultural issues could be discussed through the framework of Indian classical music.  Devidayal does a great job of it in The Music Room.  This is a book I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about Indian culture.

Comments

  1. I love all kinds of music, but honestly know virtually NOTHING about Indian music, except that I think its pretty! (Really
    insightful, aren’t I? I’m laughing at my own stupidness!) I’ll mark this one down…I might learn something!

  2. I love all kinds of music, but honestly know virtually NOTHING about Indian music, except that I think its pretty! (Really
    insightful, aren’t I? I’m laughing at my own stupidness!) I’ll mark this one down…I might learn something!

  3. This sounds like a good one for the Women Unbound challenge.

  4. This sounds like a good one for the Women Unbound challenge.

  5. Thanks for this review. I’m a big fan of memoirs and learned some about Indian music in college as a music major. I will be adding this one to my wishlist.

  6. Thanks for this review. I’m a big fan of memoirs and learned some about Indian music in college as a music major. I will be adding this one to my wishlist.

  7. A memoir set in another culture sounds fantastic to me. That’s exactly the kind of book I love.

  8. A memoir set in another culture sounds fantastic to me. That’s exactly the kind of book I love.

  9. I have never been a fan of Indian classical music myself, unless it’s background music. I also don’t particularly care for Indian classical dance (eek!). But I recognize how much work and dedication it takes, and that it has a really important place in society. Glad the author was able to bring all that together.

  10. I have never been a fan of Indian classical music myself, unless it’s background music. I also don’t particularly care for Indian classical dance (eek!). But I recognize how much work and dedication it takes, and that it has a really important place in society. Glad the author was able to bring all that together.

  11. I enjoyed your review…and I think I will add it to my wish list…

    I was wondering if you have read anything from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I would love to hear your review of “The Palace of Illusions: A Novel.”

  12. I enjoyed your review…and I think I will add it to my wish list…

    I was wondering if you have read anything from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I would love to hear your review of “The Palace of Illusions: A Novel.”

  13. I saw this mentioned earlier this year and thought it looked intriguing. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. I saw this mentioned earlier this year and thought it looked intriguing. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. I remember when this came out I was debating whether or not to buy it… sounded good but…

    now i know I must someday get to reading this!

  16. I remember when this came out I was debating whether or not to buy it… sounded good but…

    now i know I must someday get to reading this!

  17. I must find a way of getting this book. There is another book by the way called The Music Room by William Fiennes.

    I love Indian classical music and dance myself and admire the discipline that goes into both studies.

  18. I must find a way of getting this book. There is another book by the way called The Music Room by William Fiennes.

    I love Indian classical music and dance myself and admire the discipline that goes into both studies.

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