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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent