The fourteen essays that constitute this book were originally commissioned in the mid-1980s at the instance of Dr. Narayana Menon, the then Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, on the occasion of one of the first Festivals of India in Europe. Subsequently, these were published by the Sangeet Natak Akademi under the editorship of Prof. Sumati Mutakar (1987). The work of well-known writers in the field of music, the collection provides the general reader with a wide view of music in northern and southern India.
The book has been out of print for some time though it has remained in constant demand. It is therefore re-issued in an attractive new cover, but with all its content intact. I am sure readers will welcome back the publication as they greeted it when it first appeared.
A collection of essays by diverse hands, Aspects of Indian Music offers accounts of the prominent facets of the music of India.
Contributions to the book are chiefly of three kinds; though not separated in sections, they roughly follow the order described here. Writings of the first variety set out the basic concepts of raga and tala. Those of the second explain particular song-forms-dhrupada, khayal and thumri. To the third belong articles on the teaching and conservation of music through the guru-shishya system and the gharanas. There are besides articles that share the nature of all three varieties, such as the synoptic survey of Carnatic music-taking in its history, song-forms, instruments. In addition, there are essays on the raga-time association, ragamala paintings, and Rabindrasangeet-the songs of Tagore. These several writings are placed in a wider cultural context by 'Music Culture of Peoples', the first paper in the volume; read at the International Music Congress more than a decade ago, it still has astute perceptions to convey on India's music culture vis-à-vis the West's.
Contributions to Aspects of Indian Music are mainly expository, and this is in keeping with the intent of the book. Even so, opinion is inevitable in matters aesthetic and historical. Such opinions, where they occur in the book, belong to the writers in question.
Also to be admitted is the overlap inevitable in a book of kind, but this has its own advantages. For instance, definitions or interpretations of raga and tala, the building blocks of Indian music, are essayed by most of the contributors here; and this recurrence, by virtue of emphasis peculiar to each writer, only enhances the enquirer's comprehension of these musical phenomena.
Indian music is a vast and many-splendoured thing. Should the present volume promote in some small measure a discerning interest in the musical heritage of India, it will have served its purpose.
From the Jacket
The 14 essays comprising this book offer an account of the prominent facets of the music of India. They set out the basic concepts of raga and tala, explain particular song-forms, describe the conservation and teaching of music through the gurushisya parampara. Besides, they also discuss the raga-time association, ragamala paintings, and Rabindranath Tagore.
This wide-ranging survey of Indian music would be of interest to general readers and listeners inquiring into the subject, as well as specialists in music inquiring into specific topics.
Prof. Sumati Mutatkar, the editor of the book, learnt Hindustani classical music from notable vocalists of the Agra, Gwalior and Rampur gharanas. She did her doctoral thesis in music under the supervision of Pandit S.N. Ratanjankar, from whom she also received training in vocal music. She worked in All India Radio from 1953 to 1968, and was Dean of the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts, Delhi University, from 1970 to 1981. She has written and spoken extensively on Indian Music. For her service to music, she was honoured with the Fellowship of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1979.
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