Music Videos and Prosthetic Memories in Pakistan’s Coke Studio
Since 2007, Coke Studio has rapidly become one of the most influential platforms in televisual, digital and musical media, and has assumed a significant role in generating new narratives about Pakistani modernity. The musical pieces in Coke Studio’s videos re-work a range of genres and performing arts, encompassing popular and familiar songs, as well as resuscitating classical poetry and the musical traditions of marginalised communities. This re-working of the creative arts of South Asia represents an innovative approach to sound, language, and form, but also poses larger questions about how cultural memory and national narratives can be reimagined through musical media, and then further re-worked by media consumers and digital audiences.
This paper considers how Coke Studio’s music videos have been both celebrated and criticized, and explores the online conversations that compared new covers to the originals, be they much loved or long-forgotten. The ways in which the videos are viewed, shared, and dissected online sheds light on new modes of media consumption and self-reflection. Following specific examples, I examine the larger implications of the hybrid text-video-audio object in the digital age, and how the consumers of Coke Studio actively participate in developing new narratives about South Asian history and Pakistani modernity.
About the speakers
Dr Richard WilliamsAffiliation: SOAS University of London
Richard Williams joined SOAS in 2017, following a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Oxford (2015-17). Having originally studied Theology and then Modern South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford, his research brings music and sound studies into conversation with the study of religion and Indian cultural history. He received his PhD from the Music Department at King’s College London, with a doctoral thesis on the impact of colonialism on Hindustani music in the nineteenth century. He is currently finalizing his first monograph, on the circulation of musicians, genres, and musicologists between upper India and Bengal between c.1750-1900. In connection to this project, he has written on Bengali-language musicology, the performance repertoires of courtesans, and sound arts in Shi’ah Islam. His wider work has explored musical culture in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century South Asia, the history of emotions, and the place of music in the theology and contemporary religious practices of a Hindu sect, the Radhavallabh Sampraday. His research languages are Hindi, Brajbhasha, Bengali, Urdu, and Maithili.