Khyal: Music and Imagination

Oriental Museum, Elvet Hill, Durham, DH1 3TH

19.01.18 to 03.06.18

Khyal: Music and Imagination” is an AHRC-funded project based at Durham University which explores the relationship between Indian music and the visual imagination.


Khyal is the name of a vocal musical genre from India.

The name means “imagination”. This imagination can be heard in the intricate beauty of the musical patterns the singers create. It can also be explored in the vivid imagery on which musicians draw: images of landscapes, people and Gods, stories and situations, abstract designs and splashes of colour. All of these things feed into the music we hear.

Three visual artists immersed themselves in this music, collaborating with musicians who perform it and musicologists who research it. This exhibition presents the artistic result of this collaboration, and allows visitors to view the works while listening to the music that inspired them. Alongside the work of professional artists, are displayed artworks by school children and art lovers. These were produced in workshops led by the artists, musicians and musicologists. An interactive app allows you to investigate khyal performance in more depth.

Original works by Adinda van’t Klooster, Mahjabin Imam Majumdar, Theresa Poulton, the pupils of Kingsmeadow School and Kelvin Grove Primary School, Gateshead, and art lovers from Pune, India.

Featured singers: Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Ranjani Ramachandran, Sudokshina Chatterjee, Surashree Ulhas Joshi and Atul Khandekar.

The project Khyal: Music and Imagination is led by Martin Clayton and Laura Leante at Durham University, in collaboration with GemArts, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Visit the project website:

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