Michael Lindsey
Grant Category: Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Program
Project Title: Tabla as a Cross-Musical Genre Instrument in North India
Field of Study: Ethnomusicology
Home Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz, CA
Host Institution: The AIIS Archive and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology, Gurugram, Haryana  
Grant Start Month: October, 2016
Duration of Grant: Nine months

Michael Lindsey
Brief Bio:

Mr. Michael Lindsey is an ethnomusicologist and PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His primary research focuses on the musical performance practices of South Asia, with a specific interest in the performance practices of the tabla, the drums particular to Hindustani music. From 2008 to 2011 Mr. Lindsey lived in Chennai, India, where he worked as a sound engineer, studio musician, and music teacher for the renowned South Indian film composer A. R. Rahman. During his time in Chennai he also studied several Indian classical and folk percussion instruments and concertized with local musicians and ensembles. Mr. Lindsey graduated summa cum laude with a Master of Arts in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2013, and has a Bachelor of Music Performance from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Currently Mr. Lindsey is conducting fieldwork for his dissertation, which focuses on the multi-genre style of tabla performance practice in Hindustani music and the effects of modernity on Indian music culture and practice. Mr. Lindsey is also a lecturer in world music at San Jose State University and performs regularly on tabla throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

The tabla has become the most prevalent percussion instrument in South Asia today despite the instrument’s and its practitioners’ association with the lower strata of society. Tabla is currently used in a diversity of musical spaces and genres, many of which imply complex socio-musical hierarchies. Mr. Lindsey’s project situates the tabla as a cross-genre instrumental tradition and investigates how and why the history of the instrument and its practitioners reflects this plurality. Mr. Lindsey is answering these questions through studying tabla with several tabla masters in Delhi and Kolkata, utilizing archival materials, and attending musical concerts and events throughout India.