This chapter evidences the centrality and richness of music in the Baghdad Jewish community in Bombay and Poona, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The community included settlers from the middle east, Central Asia and Cochin. Maintaining the Babylonian religious custom (minhâgh babli) ‒ biblical cantillation, prayer chants and shbaḥoth (hymns) ‒ was paramount, at synagogue and home. Ḥazzânîm (cantors) were from Baghdad (or Iraq), some from Cochin. Life-cycle celebrations perpetuated Baghdad traditions, in Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic, by abu shbaḥoth (master of praises), and in Judeo-Arabic by the female daqqâqa for henna (ḥinni) ceremonies and ‘addâda for bereavements. Secular music featured instrumentalists and Arabic songs from Iraq and Egypt.

From c.1930s, the British Raj and Indian music introduced new experiences. Synagogue choirs (some in gowns and mortar boards) were organized, individuals recorded Jewish song on 78 rpms, including Jewish multi-instrumentalists, acknowledged experts in Indian film. A major influence was the youth organization Habonim (The Builders), established in India by Albert Manasseh, based on the South African model; maintained as a religious organization, it also introduced folk dances and songs in modern Hebrew from Mandate Palestine. The community enjoyed Euro-American music, as performers, as composers and as audiences for visiting musicians.