Local practice, global network: The guitar in India as a case study

Clayton, Martin (2009). Local practice, global network: The guitar in India as a case study. In: Wolf, Richard ed. Theorizing the local: Music, practice and experience in South Asia and beyond. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 65–78.

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This chapter considers the practice of guitar music in particular Indian cities, theories players and listeners offer as to its meaning, and the relationship of guitar practice to personal and group identity, locality (immediate places), and global networks. The 'location' of the guitar in India is multileveled: at once the most global and the most local of instruments. The guitar is firmly rooted in living rooms, churches and community centers and sustained by local networks of enthusiasts; it is also integral to vast global networks in which instruments, recordings, and specialist magazines all circulate. Given this, it may seem paradoxical that the greater part of the Indian guitar scene remains hidden: Westerners have remained largely uninterested in that part of Indian musical culture that most wants to identify with the West. This chapter presents the stories of some of these guitarists and how they conceptualize their musical and social worlds together: the rock star Gary Lawyer, songwriter Leslie Lewis (half of the successful duo Colonial Cousins), Mumbai session musicians such as Dilip Naik and Tushar Parte, Bengali jazz-rock guitarist Amit Dutta and his Anglo-Indian neighbor Carlton Kitto, and north-eastern Christians on the metropolitan college scene such as Kennedy Hlyccho. These interviews were recorded during fieldwork conducted with Indian guitarists during the years 1998-99 and 2001.

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