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Dhvani: Nature and Culture of Sound
Dhvani: Nature and Culture of Sound
Description

About the Author:

S. C. Malik with a teaching background in Palaeoanthropology at M. S. University of Baroda, was also a Fulbright Smit-Mundt scholar at the University of Chicago. From 1966 until 1988 he was associated with the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, in various capacities. From 1988 to 1997 he was a Professorial UGC Research Scientist in Anthropology

His major contribution is in developing multidisciplinary research methodologies and formulating theoretical models for the study of Indian Civilisation, lately within the framework of philosophical anthropology. Some of his major books are: Indian Civilisation - The Formative Period (A Study of Archaeology as Anthropology); Understanding Indian Civilisation - A Framework of Enquiry; Modern Civilisation A Crisis of Fragmentation; Dissent, Protest and Reform Movements in Indian Civilisation; Determinants of Social Status in India; Intercultural Dialogue and the Human Image; and Reconceptualising the Sciences and the Humanities - An Integral Approach.

About the Book:

Dhvani(Sound/Nada) is a profound experience that envelopes us from birth to death. Yet it is not easily fathomed. Its description by an acoustic engineer is very different from that of a musician, a linguist, a city planner, or a neurologist.

The IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts), New Delhi, organized a 2-day International seminar: 24-25 October 1994, not only to understand the experiential, cross-cultural perceptions of sound, or not just to discourse about its definitional subtleties as are encountered in the ancient texts of the East and the West; but also to bring together its perceptions in tradition, modern acoustics, and even in the ongoing environmental studies. In today's living conditions, the Dhvani-theme is specially crucial - for sound has become a major pollutant both in terms of resonances and accoustics.

Assembled in this volume are the presentations of the IGNCA seminar, exploring the various complex conceptual dimensions of sound: ranging from its mystical and traditionally metaphysical to its present-day developments, from its perceptions in indigenous musical theory to its futuristic applications. With focus around five thematic areas of the seminar: (a) Sound as the source of Creation and Sources of Sound, (b) Sound and the Senses, (c) Sound and Space, (d) Sound and Time, and (e) Symbols of Sound and Sonic Designs, the authors open up the possibilities of interaction among different disciplines involved in the study of Dhvani-phenomenon.

Foreword

How often do we forget that the most essential is the most ordinary and extraordinary. We live in space, breathe air, receive sustainance from the earth and sky, each moment, and yet the self-awareness of this perennial rhythm is only in heightened moments of consciousness. Space, time, primal elements are the essentials as are the primary faculties of sense perceptions. A moments reflection reveals the micro, macro, gross and subtle dimensions of these essentials. The human experiences these within and without. The inner and outer, the implicit and explicit levels are in a reciprocal relationship. Each of the essentials opens up a vast universe of inter- related elements and faculties.

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has been investigating the many dimensions of these fundamental concepts during the last decade. Through a series of seminars, conferences, exhibitions, multi-media presentations and films it has sought to place the perennial and the temporal, the physical and the metaphysical, the micro-macro, inner, outer dimensions of space, time, primal elements, within a framework of multidisciplinary and cross-cultural studies.

The consequent publications and films have been the result of intensive and extensive dialogue between and amongst disciplines ranging from astro-physics, micro-biology to archaeology, history, anthropology, sociology and the arts, as also a large variety of cultures.

Logically it was time to focus attention on the primary faculties of sight and sound amongst others. Sound and silence is all permeating and pervasive. The unstruck (anahata) and the struck (ahata) sound of the Indian tradition allude to its profound significance. This seminar on Dhvani like others brought together specialists of many domains and cultures. Prof. Subhash C. Malik's introduction compresses the complex discussion into a meaningful whole. Through the essays, we discover the intricate sound systems of plants, animals and birds, the structural sound systems which constitute diverse musical traditions. We delve deeper into ancient systems of intonation which demonstrate an incredible continuity as in some chants, and come face to face with the philosophic interpretations of sound in systems of Indian philosophy. Soundscapes and acoustic ecology is the.concern of many, both in its aspect of cohesive communities, such as the Santhals, as also urban megacities. Sound as symbol and sonic design is yet another field of exploration. There may have been others like the systems of establishing correspondences and co-relation between sound wave and, pitch and human emotion.

Altogether, the volume encompasses many if not all dimensions of this single concept. It will, I hope, stimulate further reflection on an aspect of our life which effects the quality of life. Pertinently many writers draw attention to the growing menace of sound pollution and insensitivity of the human. Urgent correctives are necessary for re-instituting an integral vision which will enable the fractured sensibilities 'of our being to restore their intrinsic wholeness and sensitivity.

On behalf of the IGNCA, I would like to sincerely thank all the distinguished participants, the editor, and the co-publisher.

Introduction

THE theme in this volume of Dhvani (Sound) incorporates the papers presented at an International Seminar organised by IGNCA on the 24 and 25 October 1994. It represents another ongoing programme of the conceptual plan of GNCA w hereby some fundamental - perennial- ideas are discussed within the overall holistic approach of the institution. For example, the earlier themes before this seminar were: akasa (Space), kala (Time), akara (Form, Calligraphy), the panca mahabhutas - the five Primal Elements. It therefore logically seemed correct to next discuss the theme of dhuani - Sound or nada, linked to the source of creation, to space and time, to the senses, to other symbols and structures (rhythm of music, etc.), and to sonic design in terms of resonances and acoustics.

In addition, the interlocking of sound relates both to hearing and listening, as also to sight and seeing. However the context is not only of the senses but also of the primal -eternal- aspects. The latter allow us to gain access to certain universal and cross- cultural experiential categories. The theme is especially crucial since in modern urban living conditions sound has become a major pollutant both in terms of decibels and disharmonies. On the other hand sound as anahata nada is also linked to silence, both externally and internally.

Then there is the scientific study of sound; namely, that it is a compressional wave in a medium which is essential for it to vibrate and send sound signals which may be ultra-sounds - subsonic or supersonic, and are communicated in all living beings at the level of various frequencies, of ten indicating levels of rhythms within and without the biological entity. Many of these dimensions of sound are far from being understood, including its relationship to light, time and space and so on. The dictionary meaning of sound states that it is the sensation produced by stimulation of the organ of hearing by vibrations transmitted through air or another medium. Any auditory effect or audible vibrational disturbance is sound - all kinds of sound. Beyond this prosaic definition, sound is a profound experience which envelopes us from birth to death and not easily fathomed. Of course. the description by an acoustic engineer is very different from that of a musician, a mguist, a city planner or a neurologist. On the other other hand, the definition given in the Vakya-Padiya 0,124) is most comprehensive in its description:

In this Universe, there is no form of knowledge which is not perceived through sound; all this Universe is but the result of sound.

Thus the concept of sound is a very complex one. This is why the Dhvani Seminar was an a ttempt to understand Sound, not only as structured music - notrestricting it to the definitions found in the ancient texts of both the East and West, but also to bring together the perceptions and the perspective of the scientist, physicist and others who are working in the field of modern acoustic and sound pollution - a major phenomenon of our times.

To illustrate further, in the context of the creation of the universe, from the Indian viewpoint the universe is itself a product of sound. Manu proclaims Utterance (vak) brought forth of the Universe. He (God) pronounced 'Bhu' and the earth was born. From the sound of Vedas that Supreme made all things.

The Big-Bang theory of today suggests something similar, as it says in the beginning there was a single point and the universe was created with a gigantic explosion.

Again, in the Indian musical theory, the concept of sound is explained in terms of two kinds of sound: (1) Sound as a vibration of ether; and, (2) Sound as a vibration of air. However, since the vibration of ether cannot be perceived in the physical sense, it is considered the principle of all manifestations, i.e., it is the basis of all substances corresponding to what the neo-Pythagoreans have called the 'music of the spheres'. This kind of sound forms a permanent numerical pattern which is the basis of world's existence. This kind of vibration is not caused by a physical shock as are audible sounds. It is, therefore, called anahata or 'unstruck' sound. The second kind of sound is because of certain vibrations in the air, reflecting an image of the ether vibration; and this is audible and always produced by a shock. It is therefore called ahata or 'struck'sound.

The findings of astronomy suggests that no longer are heavenly bodies revolving around silently because radio telescopy has shown a whole new dimension of the universe; i.e., the edge of the galaxy reveals a noisy hissing cacophony of sounds, which are being produced by quick shifts in molecular and atomic energy levels is gases made hot by the newly born stars.

According to ancient metaphysics, the five elements are perceived separately by the five senses e.g., ether = taste, fire = sight, water and air = touch and ether = sound. The latter can be perceived through reaction upon other elements, i.e., air, which equals touch and therefore, by touching the ear forces it to vibrate. Sound by itself cannot be perceived but under the shape of dhvani (Sound) it is only the materialised idea of sphota which is perceived as sound. Words in this manner-gain meaning because of sound which is the external characteristic through which the meaning is grasped. Similarly, the sounds used in music have mutual relationship arising from an image of the basic laws

Sound is perceived by all living beings, suggesting that it underlies an inter- wovenness with nature, i.e., sound is the principle means of communication and expression and the pulse of all. Until recently it was widely believed that plant life grew silently but today it has been proved that sound is also an integral part of vegetation. Using photo-acoustic spectroscopy, it has been discovered that rose plants, for example, make sound quite audible when the bud bursts into blossoms. In short, all biological beings are surrounded with sound, be it wind, water, fire, cries and chirpings of other animals/birds/humans.

Modern physiologists tell us that sound has an integral relationship with man's hearing sense; that the ear is the "first organ which is formed In the womb and within the womb the ear is the most important organ because it is with the ear that the consciousness of the child begins to be aroused. The child in the womb, for instance, hears its mother's heart-beat, and later of course sound from the outside world. This means that man perceives the world first with his ears and then with the other senses. Gradually man-made sounds are perceived and these get correlated to the source of sound and actions.

CONTENTS

 

  FOREWORD
Kapila Vatsyayan
v
  INTRODUCTION
S. C. Malik
1
Part I
 
Sound as the Source of Creation
and Sources of Sound
 
1. SOUND ALL WAYS
Peter Pannke
13
2. WHAT SILENCE MEANS TO MUSIC
Sumati Mutatkar
21
3. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VOICE AND INSTRUMENTS IN THE INDIAN TRADITION
Prem Lata Sharma
25
Part II
 
Sound and the Senses
 
4. COMMUNICATION THROUGH SOUND IN ANIMALS
Bharati Sarkar
31
5. SOUNDSCAPE AND ACOUSTIC ECOLOGY
Hildegard Westerkamp
45
Part III
 
Sound and Time
 
6. THE PREDICAMENT OF RAGA MUSIC
Raghav R. Menon
55
7. FROM A SOUND OBSERVATORY TO A SOUND CITY
Andres Bosshard
65
Part IV
 
Sound and Space
 
8. SETU SAMAN: ITS MEANING AND BACKGROUND
Lambodar Mishra
75
9. CONCEPTUAL ASPECTS OF SOUND IN SAKTISM
M. C. Joshi
79
10. SOUND AS HARMONY: A CASE OF THE ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENT OF
SANTHALS IN BOLPUR SRINIKETAN BLOCK, BIRBHUM
Onkar Prasad
87
11. THINKING ABOUT SOUND IN TRADITIONAL SCIENCE
Baidyanath Saraswati
91
12. CHINESE CONCEPT OF SOUND
Tan Chung
103
13. IMPORTANCE OF SOUND IN THE TRADITION OF VEDIC CHANTING
Satkari Mukhopadhyaya
121
14. SOUND ACCORDING TO DIFFERENT SYSTEMS OF INDIAN
PHILOSOPHY
Sampat Narayanan
129
Part V
 
Symbols of Sound and Sonic Designs
 
15. SOME SPECTACULAR APPLICATIONS OF SOUND
T. K. Saksena
137
16. MEASUREMENT AND SYMBOLISM OF SOUND IN INDIAN MUSIC
P.S.N. Murthy and M. S. Saratchandra Kumar
149
  LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS 173

Sample Pages









Dhvani: Nature and Culture of Sound

Item Code:
IDD161
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
1999
ISBN:
8124601119
Language:
English
Size:
9.8" X 7.5"
Pages:
175
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 627 gms
Price:
$37.50   Shipping Free
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About the Author:

S. C. Malik with a teaching background in Palaeoanthropology at M. S. University of Baroda, was also a Fulbright Smit-Mundt scholar at the University of Chicago. From 1966 until 1988 he was associated with the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, in various capacities. From 1988 to 1997 he was a Professorial UGC Research Scientist in Anthropology

His major contribution is in developing multidisciplinary research methodologies and formulating theoretical models for the study of Indian Civilisation, lately within the framework of philosophical anthropology. Some of his major books are: Indian Civilisation - The Formative Period (A Study of Archaeology as Anthropology); Understanding Indian Civilisation - A Framework of Enquiry; Modern Civilisation A Crisis of Fragmentation; Dissent, Protest and Reform Movements in Indian Civilisation; Determinants of Social Status in India; Intercultural Dialogue and the Human Image; and Reconceptualising the Sciences and the Humanities - An Integral Approach.

About the Book:

Dhvani(Sound/Nada) is a profound experience that envelopes us from birth to death. Yet it is not easily fathomed. Its description by an acoustic engineer is very different from that of a musician, a linguist, a city planner, or a neurologist.

The IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts), New Delhi, organized a 2-day International seminar: 24-25 October 1994, not only to understand the experiential, cross-cultural perceptions of sound, or not just to discourse about its definitional subtleties as are encountered in the ancient texts of the East and the West; but also to bring together its perceptions in tradition, modern acoustics, and even in the ongoing environmental studies. In today's living conditions, the Dhvani-theme is specially crucial - for sound has become a major pollutant both in terms of resonances and accoustics.

Assembled in this volume are the presentations of the IGNCA seminar, exploring the various complex conceptual dimensions of sound: ranging from its mystical and traditionally metaphysical to its present-day developments, from its perceptions in indigenous musical theory to its futuristic applications. With focus around five thematic areas of the seminar: (a) Sound as the source of Creation and Sources of Sound, (b) Sound and the Senses, (c) Sound and Space, (d) Sound and Time, and (e) Symbols of Sound and Sonic Designs, the authors open up the possibilities of interaction among different disciplines involved in the study of Dhvani-phenomenon.

Foreword

How often do we forget that the most essential is the most ordinary and extraordinary. We live in space, breathe air, receive sustainance from the earth and sky, each moment, and yet the self-awareness of this perennial rhythm is only in heightened moments of consciousness. Space, time, primal elements are the essentials as are the primary faculties of sense perceptions. A moments reflection reveals the micro, macro, gross and subtle dimensions of these essentials. The human experiences these within and without. The inner and outer, the implicit and explicit levels are in a reciprocal relationship. Each of the essentials opens up a vast universe of inter- related elements and faculties.

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has been investigating the many dimensions of these fundamental concepts during the last decade. Through a series of seminars, conferences, exhibitions, multi-media presentations and films it has sought to place the perennial and the temporal, the physical and the metaphysical, the micro-macro, inner, outer dimensions of space, time, primal elements, within a framework of multidisciplinary and cross-cultural studies.

The consequent publications and films have been the result of intensive and extensive dialogue between and amongst disciplines ranging from astro-physics, micro-biology to archaeology, history, anthropology, sociology and the arts, as also a large variety of cultures.

Logically it was time to focus attention on the primary faculties of sight and sound amongst others. Sound and silence is all permeating and pervasive. The unstruck (anahata) and the struck (ahata) sound of the Indian tradition allude to its profound significance. This seminar on Dhvani like others brought together specialists of many domains and cultures. Prof. Subhash C. Malik's introduction compresses the complex discussion into a meaningful whole. Through the essays, we discover the intricate sound systems of plants, animals and birds, the structural sound systems which constitute diverse musical traditions. We delve deeper into ancient systems of intonation which demonstrate an incredible continuity as in some chants, and come face to face with the philosophic interpretations of sound in systems of Indian philosophy. Soundscapes and acoustic ecology is the.concern of many, both in its aspect of cohesive communities, such as the Santhals, as also urban megacities. Sound as symbol and sonic design is yet another field of exploration. There may have been others like the systems of establishing correspondences and co-relation between sound wave and, pitch and human emotion.

Altogether, the volume encompasses many if not all dimensions of this single concept. It will, I hope, stimulate further reflection on an aspect of our life which effects the quality of life. Pertinently many writers draw attention to the growing menace of sound pollution and insensitivity of the human. Urgent correctives are necessary for re-instituting an integral vision which will enable the fractured sensibilities 'of our being to restore their intrinsic wholeness and sensitivity.

On behalf of the IGNCA, I would like to sincerely thank all the distinguished participants, the editor, and the co-publisher.

Introduction

THE theme in this volume of Dhvani (Sound) incorporates the papers presented at an International Seminar organised by IGNCA on the 24 and 25 October 1994. It represents another ongoing programme of the conceptual plan of GNCA w hereby some fundamental - perennial- ideas are discussed within the overall holistic approach of the institution. For example, the earlier themes before this seminar were: akasa (Space), kala (Time), akara (Form, Calligraphy), the panca mahabhutas - the five Primal Elements. It therefore logically seemed correct to next discuss the theme of dhuani - Sound or nada, linked to the source of creation, to space and time, to the senses, to other symbols and structures (rhythm of music, etc.), and to sonic design in terms of resonances and acoustics.

In addition, the interlocking of sound relates both to hearing and listening, as also to sight and seeing. However the context is not only of the senses but also of the primal -eternal- aspects. The latter allow us to gain access to certain universal and cross- cultural experiential categories. The theme is especially crucial since in modern urban living conditions sound has become a major pollutant both in terms of decibels and disharmonies. On the other hand sound as anahata nada is also linked to silence, both externally and internally.

Then there is the scientific study of sound; namely, that it is a compressional wave in a medium which is essential for it to vibrate and send sound signals which may be ultra-sounds - subsonic or supersonic, and are communicated in all living beings at the level of various frequencies, of ten indicating levels of rhythms within and without the biological entity. Many of these dimensions of sound are far from being understood, including its relationship to light, time and space and so on. The dictionary meaning of sound states that it is the sensation produced by stimulation of the organ of hearing by vibrations transmitted through air or another medium. Any auditory effect or audible vibrational disturbance is sound - all kinds of sound. Beyond this prosaic definition, sound is a profound experience which envelopes us from birth to death and not easily fathomed. Of course. the description by an acoustic engineer is very different from that of a musician, a mguist, a city planner or a neurologist. On the other other hand, the definition given in the Vakya-Padiya 0,124) is most comprehensive in its description:

In this Universe, there is no form of knowledge which is not perceived through sound; all this Universe is but the result of sound.

Thus the concept of sound is a very complex one. This is why the Dhvani Seminar was an a ttempt to understand Sound, not only as structured music - notrestricting it to the definitions found in the ancient texts of both the East and West, but also to bring together the perceptions and the perspective of the scientist, physicist and others who are working in the field of modern acoustic and sound pollution - a major phenomenon of our times.

To illustrate further, in the context of the creation of the universe, from the Indian viewpoint the universe is itself a product of sound. Manu proclaims Utterance (vak) brought forth of the Universe. He (God) pronounced 'Bhu' and the earth was born. From the sound of Vedas that Supreme made all things.

The Big-Bang theory of today suggests something similar, as it says in the beginning there was a single point and the universe was created with a gigantic explosion.

Again, in the Indian musical theory, the concept of sound is explained in terms of two kinds of sound: (1) Sound as a vibration of ether; and, (2) Sound as a vibration of air. However, since the vibration of ether cannot be perceived in the physical sense, it is considered the principle of all manifestations, i.e., it is the basis of all substances corresponding to what the neo-Pythagoreans have called the 'music of the spheres'. This kind of sound forms a permanent numerical pattern which is the basis of world's existence. This kind of vibration is not caused by a physical shock as are audible sounds. It is, therefore, called anahata or 'unstruck' sound. The second kind of sound is because of certain vibrations in the air, reflecting an image of the ether vibration; and this is audible and always produced by a shock. It is therefore called ahata or 'struck'sound.

The findings of astronomy suggests that no longer are heavenly bodies revolving around silently because radio telescopy has shown a whole new dimension of the universe; i.e., the edge of the galaxy reveals a noisy hissing cacophony of sounds, which are being produced by quick shifts in molecular and atomic energy levels is gases made hot by the newly born stars.

According to ancient metaphysics, the five elements are perceived separately by the five senses e.g., ether = taste, fire = sight, water and air = touch and ether = sound. The latter can be perceived through reaction upon other elements, i.e., air, which equals touch and therefore, by touching the ear forces it to vibrate. Sound by itself cannot be perceived but under the shape of dhvani (Sound) it is only the materialised idea of sphota which is perceived as sound. Words in this manner-gain meaning because of sound which is the external characteristic through which the meaning is grasped. Similarly, the sounds used in music have mutual relationship arising from an image of the basic laws

Sound is perceived by all living beings, suggesting that it underlies an inter- wovenness with nature, i.e., sound is the principle means of communication and expression and the pulse of all. Until recently it was widely believed that plant life grew silently but today it has been proved that sound is also an integral part of vegetation. Using photo-acoustic spectroscopy, it has been discovered that rose plants, for example, make sound quite audible when the bud bursts into blossoms. In short, all biological beings are surrounded with sound, be it wind, water, fire, cries and chirpings of other animals/birds/humans.

Modern physiologists tell us that sound has an integral relationship with man's hearing sense; that the ear is the "first organ which is formed In the womb and within the womb the ear is the most important organ because it is with the ear that the consciousness of the child begins to be aroused. The child in the womb, for instance, hears its mother's heart-beat, and later of course sound from the outside world. This means that man perceives the world first with his ears and then with the other senses. Gradually man-made sounds are perceived and these get correlated to the source of sound and actions.

CONTENTS

 

  FOREWORD
Kapila Vatsyayan
v
  INTRODUCTION
S. C. Malik
1
Part I
 
Sound as the Source of Creation
and Sources of Sound
 
1. SOUND ALL WAYS
Peter Pannke
13
2. WHAT SILENCE MEANS TO MUSIC
Sumati Mutatkar
21
3. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VOICE AND INSTRUMENTS IN THE INDIAN TRADITION
Prem Lata Sharma
25
Part II
 
Sound and the Senses
 
4. COMMUNICATION THROUGH SOUND IN ANIMALS
Bharati Sarkar
31
5. SOUNDSCAPE AND ACOUSTIC ECOLOGY
Hildegard Westerkamp
45
Part III
 
Sound and Time
 
6. THE PREDICAMENT OF RAGA MUSIC
Raghav R. Menon
55
7. FROM A SOUND OBSERVATORY TO A SOUND CITY
Andres Bosshard
65
Part IV
 
Sound and Space
 
8. SETU SAMAN: ITS MEANING AND BACKGROUND
Lambodar Mishra
75
9. CONCEPTUAL ASPECTS OF SOUND IN SAKTISM
M. C. Joshi
79
10. SOUND AS HARMONY: A CASE OF THE ACOUSTIC ENVIRONMENT OF
SANTHALS IN BOLPUR SRINIKETAN BLOCK, BIRBHUM
Onkar Prasad
87
11. THINKING ABOUT SOUND IN TRADITIONAL SCIENCE
Baidyanath Saraswati
91
12. CHINESE CONCEPT OF SOUND
Tan Chung
103
13. IMPORTANCE OF SOUND IN THE TRADITION OF VEDIC CHANTING
Satkari Mukhopadhyaya
121
14. SOUND ACCORDING TO DIFFERENT SYSTEMS OF INDIAN
PHILOSOPHY
Sampat Narayanan
129
Part V
 
Symbols of Sound and Sonic Designs
 
15. SOME SPECTACULAR APPLICATIONS OF SOUND
T. K. Saksena
137
16. MEASUREMENT AND SYMBOLISM OF SOUND IN INDIAN MUSIC
P.S.N. Murthy and M. S. Saratchandra Kumar
149
  LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS 173

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