Mahatma Gandhi's speech caught on gramophone during his 1931 visit to England now shares space with classical music legend M S Subhalakshmi's song, recorded when she was just nine, in a new virtual archive.
The Archive of Indian Music (AIM), formally launched on 30 July, is an online compilation of vintage gramaphonic records of speeches, songs, plays etc dating as far back as 1902.
‘This is a private initiative, a non profit trust where we source oldest rarest gramophone records like old ghazals, speeches of leaders, theatre recordings, folk music etc and digitise it for free access by laymen,’ Vikram Sampath, founder AIM said. Sampath, an engineer, historian, author and musician from Bangalore has till date digitised 1000 clips from a collection of 12,000 gramaphone recordings and a total of 200 artists on the site, a pilot project that began in May this year.
The archive includes digital version of first recording of Vande Matram clips, of Rabindranath Tagore reciting poetry as also recordings from early cinema, film songs by Mohammed Rafi and playback singers, folk music and devotional songs, ghazals, qawali as well as recordings of old plays etc.
‘I first hit upon the idea while researching for a book he wrote on Gauhar Jaan, a singer from Kolkata, who was the first from India to record on gramophone in 1902,’ says Sampath.