Early Indian electronic music found on tapes in a university cupboard released in a compilation

The National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, has released the compilation after the tapes were found there in 2017.

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Entrance to the National Institute of Design, India

Image: Sam Panthaky/AFP via Getty Images

A compilation showcasing India’s history of electronic music through the 1960s and ’70s has been released by the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

The tapes were recovered from a cupboard at the university in 2017, and released on 29 September as NID Tapes: Electronic Music from India 1969-1972.

In 1969, over 20,000 people came to the university to hear the groundbreaking Moog synthesiser, which was shipped from the US alongside a dual ring modulator, a bode frequency shifter, and tape machines.

The late American composer David Tudor conducted workshops on them, and musician Paul Purgas, who found the lost tapes, was there himself. Once he found the tapes, he reassembled and digitised 19 tracks across 27 tape reels.

He described it as a “victory for good record keeping”, via The New York Times, as he took details from handwritten notes and brought together music made from both the Moog and homemade equipment too.

In the compilation, there are field records, tape collages, soundtracks and other recordings. Purgas describes them as taking on a “dreamlike” quality, showcasing a “perfect, utopian moment of India post-independence”. Among the composers featured are Atul Desai, Jinraj Joshipura, I.S. Mathur, Gita Sarabhai and S.C. Shama.

Meanwhile, it’s set to be accompanied by a book from Purgas, entitled Subcontinental Synthesis: Electronic Music at the National Institute of Design, India 1969–1972. It’s set for release on 7 November, and features essays and handwritten texts from the same period.

You can view the tracklist below:

1. S.C. Sharma – After the War
2. Atul Desai – Compositions
3. S.C. Sharma – Dance Music I
4. Gita Sarabhai – Gitaben’s Composition
5. David Tudor – Tape Feedback with Moog
6. Jinraj Joshipura – Space Liner 2001 I
7. S.C. Sharma – Electronic Sounds Created on Moog
8. S.C. Sharma – Dance Music II
9. I.S. Mathur – My Birds
10. I.S. Mathur – Moogsical Forms
11. Gita Sarabhai – Gitaben’s Composition II
12. I.S. Mathur – Once I Played a Tanpura
13. S.C. Sharma – Electronic Sounds Created on Moog II
14. Atul Desai – Recordings for Osaka Expo 70
15. S.C. Sharma – Wind & Bubbles
16. S.C. Sharma – Dance Music III
17. Jinraj Joshipura – Space Liner 2001 II
18. I.S. Mathur – Shadows of the Show
19. I.S. Mathur – Soundtrack of Shadow Play


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