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The Grammar of North Indian Ragas

Item Code: NAO092
Author: Bimalakanta Roychaudhuri
Publisher: Om Publications
Language: English
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 9788186867846
Pages: 447
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 690 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

The book deals with the basic principles, such as Aroha, A varoha, Jati, Vadi, Samvadi, Pakada, time etc. of 706 North Indian or Hindustani Ragas. Also has been discussed the different varieties of and opinions on the same Ragas and also about the different names in vogue of the Ragas. The Indian musical notes have also been explained with reference to western notations to make the book easily understandable by western readers. An indispensable book for musicians and music scholars, this was first published in Hindi by Bharatiya jnanpith in 1981 and then by Vani Prakashan in 1998.

The original English version is being published for the first time now.

About the Author

Bimalakanta Roychaudhuri (1909- 1980) Born in an illustrious family of musical heritage, he had his early training in music from Sita1chandra Mukho- padhyay, Sitalkrishna Ghosh, Amir Khan (Sarod) and then from Inayet Khan, the foremost Sitar Player of those days. He also had his musical training from his maternal uncle Birendrakishore Roychaudhuri and maternal grandfather Brojendrakishore Roychaudhuri. He took part in the translation work of "Sangeet Ratnakara" from Sanskrit to Bengali under the patronage of Brojendrakishore Roychaudhuri. A musician as well as a musicologist, he was invited by the Bonn University in 1968 for lecture demonstration on Indian music and he also gave demonstrations on Sitar and Surbahar in London, Paris, Belgium, Holland and at different places in Germany. His book "Bharatiya Sangeetkosh" in Bengali earned for him the "Sangeet Natak Academy" award in 1970. He was Chairman of the Board of Musical Studies of the University of Calcutta. His other published works in English are "The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music" and "Aesthetics of North Indian Classical music."


It is not the intention of the present author to delve into the origin and development of each Raga, which by itself is a subject for intensive research. The whole basis of Raga melody rests on typical juxtapostion of notes to be produced one after the other and the author deals with the fundamental rules of such juxtaposition so that one Raga can be correctly known from another. Out of twelve notes of a scale are born hundreds of Ragas, each different from the other in melodic appeal and the rules of juxtaposition of notes, if followed strictly, keep them different.

Indian Raga melody is a superb creation to express certain feelings through the medium of music. It can be very well compared with another similar medium, the language. As language has alphabets, words formed by these alphabets, and syntax to complete a sentence, so also has a Raga melody musical alphabets known in Sanskrit as "Vamas", words known as "Padas" and syntax to choose and use such words or 'Padas' to form a musical composition. As there are essentially two types of language compositions, viz. prose and poetry, bound by rhythm, metre and feet, so also in Raga melody there are two types of composition, viz. 'Ampa', i.e. a-rhythmic composition and songs or 'Gats', that is, instrumental pieces bound by 'Chanda', 'Tala' and 'Matras'.

As the words 'honesty', 'goodness', 'cruelty' etc. are abstract nouns signifying some concepts implying certain qualities in living creatures, so also is a Raga a concept having certain qualities expressed through the choice of particular words or 'Padas' composed of notes in a particular way for each Raga. It is here that the rules of a Raga come in, and there are typical musical words or 'Padas' earmarked for each Raga so that the latter may remain different from many others. Such 'Padas' are put in various combinations to form various musical phrases belonging to that particular Raga and the composition is made complete by virtuosi according to their individual artistic and aesthetic sense of diction, to express their inner feelings according to their mood through Raga melody. This grammar deals with the rules to form 'Padas', phrases, and syntax to combine them into a particular Raga composition.

Raga melody is of a very ancient origin, but for over a thousand The Grammar of North Indian Ragas

years each Raga has undergone various changes in the original rules of its formation due to both for time and for space, as India is a vast country covering millions of square kilometers and in ancient days when inter- provincial communications were too difficult, it could not have been possible for anyone to compare his exposition of a Raga with that of another living at a considerable distance, even if both had learnt that Raga from the same source. Thus a particular Raga coloured by the individuality of the musicians living at great distances, may undergo considerable changes especially over several generations, and a particular Raga as found in Bengal today may be quite different from the same prevalent in Bombay. In such cases it is always wiser to accept both as varieties, since even after these spatial and temporal changes, both the varieties may have the same emotional appeal, but even if they do not, it matters nothing to consider them as independent Ragas.

The author has pointed out those changes as necessary, and as far as possible, without any discrimination. It is well known that the Sastriya form of a particular Raga would not be found in currency today for various factors, chiefly among them being the most important question of the Sastriya fundamental scale and the modem scale, so it is absolutely needless to cite Sastriya description of a Raga while describing it in its present form and therefore all such attempts have been avoided in this book.

It has not been possible to provide examples of compositions of each Raga excepting in an introductory manner, for such provision would have called for many times the volume of this book; besides, there have been described and analysed Ragas of which no worthwhile compositions have been made available to the author.

The author has included the western major and minor scales, in all 48 in number, in Indian Tonic Solfa in conformity with the Indian notations for the benefit of those Indians who may be interested to compare these scales with their own.

The spelling of the Raga names has been somewhat arbitrary, but basing phonetically on Sanskrit and Bengali words. It will be found that the 'Arnsa' note or 'Vadi' note and its 'Samvadi' as described under each Raga would be sometimes at variance with the conventional practice, but the present author regrets his inability to subscribe to the utterly unscientific use of those relative terms and has suggested logical coupling of Vadi and Samvadi for all such Ragas.


Note 6
Preface 7
Acknowledgement 11
Glossary 15
The Symbols of Notations 34
North Indian Ragas-Aroha and A varoha 35
Western Scales reduced to Indian Tonic Solfa 56
The Grammar 59


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