Music on Radio & TV

It's Salman Rushdie's fault. Since he popularised the idea of nations born at midnight, the schedules last weekend had an excuse. Add up the time given to India and Pakistan and the total looks impressive. But who watched except for insomniacs and those who can set their videos? The rest had the imperial nonsense of Jewel in the Crown, disgracefully repeated in place of a creative commission.

At least Channel 4 made amends within its all-night Indian Summer season. Repeats dominated this too, but by focusing on partition rather than independence it ensured that the obvious didn't rule - particularly in the music programmes. A quirk of fate made the longest session a momentous tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the night after he died. In other musical traditions, the early demise of one of the world's great singers at the height of his fame would ensure a hasty change in prime-time broadcasts. Not yet with qawwali, for all that Nusrat had done to take his ecstatic Muslim devotional song to huge mixed audiences. Even so, what would have been a stirring two hours anyway, taken from a live performance, became the vehicle of redoubled emotional intensity.

Most fascinating of the night's subjects was Lata Mangeshkar. Famous voice, unfamiliar face: as the queen of the playback singers in Bombay movies for decades, she put the music to the antics of miming megastars by the hundred. Even if you have only heard restaurant background tapes, you will know her. This time the down-to-earth, bespectacled presence on screen was her own. With her unmistakable sound, virtuoso range of techniques and instant adaptability, she has held the respect of classical as well as popular musicians.

The half-hour Asian Station survey of the Indian impact on British pop was a more current story of vigorous progress in making musical links. Of all the programmes it was the most mistimed, because performers such as the post-rap Fun-Da-Mental are part of the mainstream for a big young audience. But this is probably news to television controllers.

Not so on radio, where BBC Radio 1 spent two hours last Friday exploring the local Asian product. Meanwhile, Radio 3 has discovered that its Through the Night slot is perfect for the leisurely unfolding of a full-length classical Indian performance. Even the greatest fan can't expect the network to fit one in every afternoon (though once a month would be good), but they must hope that the four broadcasts that Mark Tully presented over the weekend are a precedent and not just anniversary tokenism, because they made an imaginative start. The music was arranged by cities, so that you took away a feeling for the way different traditions have grown around musical dynasties. There was a proper place for south India, often passed over by the powerful, male-dominated north.

Monday's Iconoclassics featured the composer Giacinto Scelsi, who is sometimes said to have conveyed an Asian aesthetic with his slow, floating lines and sense of timelessness. In an avant-garde context this was a refreshing stance. But alongside the real thing it sounds stiff - Scelsi obsessively dictated every detail - and at the same time devoid of rhythm. What pretensions this musical era had! They were sent up the same evening when ITV screened one of Gerard Depardieu's finest, and funniest, moments in the film Green Card. Called on to live up to his label as a composer, the character delivers a frantic two minutes of spontaneous piano-bashing that sounds strangely like early Boulez. Table lamps wobble, faces freeze, and one poor soul applauds eagerly. It's so true, it hurtsn Robert Maycock

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture