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Indian classical music, Bhangra beats in England’s new music curriculum

Indian classical music, Bollywood hits and Bhangra beats are among the diverse musical traditions included in England’s new music curriculum guidance for schools launched on Friday. The Department for Education (DfE) said the plan for all schools in England is aimed at giving more young people the opportunity to listen to and learn about music through the ages and across cultures. Kishori Amonkar’s ‘Saheli Re’, Anoushka Shankar’s ‘Indian Summer’, A R Rahman’s ‘Jai Ho’ and Bollywood box-office hit ‘Munni Badnam Hui’ are among the Indian musical references included in the DfE guidance for schools.

“It is important to recognize that modern British identity is rich and diverse, resulting in communities which celebrate and explore their own specific, localised ‘cultural capital’,” notes the guidance. “Kishori Amonkar was one of the leading vocalists of Indian classical music in the 20th century. Amonkar’s approach to music emphasised the spiritual as articulated in her statement that ‘To me it [music] is a dialogue with the divine, this intense focused communication with the ultimate other’. Further listening might include performances where the melody is instrumental, such as the music of Ravi and Anoushka Shankar,” it notes.
In reference to composer Lalit Pandit’s ‘Munni Badnam Hui’ from the 2010 box-office hit ‘Dabangg’, the guidance adds: “Item numbers feature in Bollywood movies without pertaining to the plot, and while the protagonist, policeman Chulbul, enters this song the main performer/producer, Malaika Arora, only appears in this number.” “The song includes many typical features of Bollywood films in its music, dance and colourful visuals,” the guidance says.

The DfE said its Model Music Curriculum has been developed by a panel of 15 music education specialists – teachers, education leaders and musicians from across the UK.