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Hindustani and Persio-Arabian Music (An Indepth, Comparative Study)

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Item Code: NAL861
Author: Divya Mansingh Kaul
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9788173919237
Pages: 285 (63 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 440 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

The medieval period was noteworthy in Indian History for the migrations from time to time of peoples and races form West and Central Asia, into the India sub-continent; this influenced the political and cultural panorama resulting in a harmonious blending of cultures. This book discusses and captures this closeness and commonality between two rich and profound music cultures of the Persio Arabaian Region and India. Its broad canvas covers the following concepts and aspects of music, which would be of interest to students of music as well as the lay reader:

• The historical perspective of Hindustani Music and the music of the Persio-Arabian Region.
• Description and comparison of the Melodic Mode, Maqam and the Raga.
• Fusion and blending of the Magan and Raga, in the Medieval Period in India.
• Striking resemblance of Iqa with Tala, the metric units of the two music systems.
• Existence of similar instruments; whether they borrowed from each other during the course of evolution.
• The emotional element, Tasir and corresponding Rasa.
• The ornamentation techniques Tarkib, Tahrir and Gamak having identical elements.
• The folk music of the two regions sharing common sociological dimensions, revealing common practices and customs.


About the Author

Dr. Divya Mansingh Kaul, born and brought up in Uttar Pardesh, was initiated into Hindustani Classical Music at an early age, as she belongs to a family, who are great lovers and patrons of music. She studied Psychology, Journalism and then pursued Psychology, Journalism and then pursued a short career in banking. Since then she has been a homemaker, finding. fulfillment in music.

She has received her Alankar in Hindustani Vocal classical music from the Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, and a Doctorate in Hindustani Vocal classical music from the University of Delhi. Her interest lies both in theory and the practical side of music.

She is married, with two sons and this her first book.



I feel delighted to place before the world of music the music entitled “Hindustani and Persio-Arabian Music: An Indepth, Comparative Study” authored by Dr. Divya Kaul, based on her doctoral research work.

The Indian civilization is one of the most ancient in the world. Even though India is one of the few countries that have experienced so many invasions and witnessed so many empires rise and fall, yet it has been able to maintain continuity in its uniqueness.

During the medieval period when Muslims came to India, North Indian music went through a metamorphosis, blending in itself beautifully the Arab, Persian and Central Asian influences. In this process new forms and styles developed which continue to survive even today. The process of intermingling and blending of ideas and techniques was so complete that any attempt to delineate the indigenous and foreign elements would be futile. The Hindustani music that developed as a result of such synthesis was based on rich Indian tradition and its interaction with the Persian, Arabic and Central Asian influences.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Sultans Allauddin Khilji (1296-1316 A.D.) and Mohammad Bin Tughlaq (1325-1351 A.D.) Profoundly influenced the cultural life of North India. During this period the conflict between two cultural forces, i.e., the traditional Indian and Persio-Arabic, was transformed first into a position of stalemate and then onto reciprocal toleration. It gradually set the stage for interaction, and process of mutual influencing between them; and before long new forces for bringing about a synthesis between two cultural streams took their birth. Mr. Alizadeh Mohammadi had rightly stated in one of his lecture demonstrations on classical music of Iran, that the Persian traditional music has much in common with the modal music of those countries which have similar culture and civilizations, such as that of Turkey, Arabia and to some extent India. The main characteristic performance of Persian traditional music has always been “improvisation.” In Persian music each mode, that is called “Mayed,” is similar to the main elements of Indian music, viz. Raga and Tala.

Another major influence on Indian music can be attributed to the Sufis. Sufis have left indelible imprint on Hindustani music. They skilfully blended the Arab and Persian styles with Hindustani musical forms. Music played a central role in all their congregations. Interestingly, the well-known Sufi musician Amir Khusrau enjoyed the patronage of five successive kings who were great patrons of literature and fine arts. According to several Persian texts Khusrau created about twelve new melodies by combining Arabian and Persian Maqamat with Indian Ragas, among which are Zilaf, Muafiq, Ghanam, Farghana, Zangula, Sarparda, Farodast and Sazgiri, etc. The texts further describe that Khusrau chose twelve Ragas out of popular ones and ascribed them new names, such as: The combination of Bairari, Malashri and Hussaini was named “Muwafiq.” Similarly, the combination of Sarang, Basant, Farghana and Nawa was named “Ushaq.” The prominent Sufi of Suhrawardi sect has also been described as the innovator of several new ragas based on Persian Muqamat.

One of the noteworthy features of the book is that the author has specially emphasized the blending of the two systems of melodic modes, i.e. Persio-Arabian region and India during medieval times. She has attempted to examine the similarities in Hindustani music and equally important concepts of Music of Arabian region, like Rhythm (Iqa) musical instruments, forms, emotive effects of Music (Tasir), and other embellishments of singing.

The rhythmic modes of the two systems indicate strong similarities between them. Similarly the analytical description of musical instruments is highly significant in demonstrating the strong comparable traits between the music of the Persio-Arabic region and Hindustani music . The chapter onTasir and Rasa interestingly discusses the emotive qualities, moods and nature of melodic modes (the Maqamat and Dastgahs) which are similar to the theory of Rasa in Ragas of Indian music. While discussing this point the author perceptively states that the chapter on Tasir and Rasa tells us without any doubt that the emotive qualities, moods and the nature of melodic modes of the Arabian region, the Maqam and Dastgah, are very similar to those of the Ragas of Hindustani music. In both the systems during the process of development and elaboration of the presentation of Maqam or Raga, the use of certain notes, their permutations and combinations and similar other techniques give the required emotional content to the melody.

Dr. Divya Kaul has made a valuable contribution to the field of musicology through this well researched work, which will be a rich source in information and knowledge to the scholars, teachers and students of music.



In this book, an attempt has been made to compare the music of the Persio-Arabian Region with Hindustani Music. In Order to do this, it was necessary to go into the historical background of the two regions and discover the geographical, political, religious, social and other factors that influenced and made these two systems comparable.

Let us first take a look at the Arabic world that existed at the dawn of the Islamic era. “When the revelation of Muhammad flashed on the world in the seventh century of the Christian ear, a message was delivered which could not be confined to the Hijaz, the cradle of Islam. As a result, within three quarters of a century, the banner of the Prophet was planted eastward at the extremities of Transoxiana, southward by the banks of the Indus, northward to the shores of the Black Sea and westward on the slopes of the Pyrenees.” From Samarkand (now Uzbekistan in Central Asia ) in the East Cordoba (Spain) in the West, the Arabian Empire encompassed within its fold the wealth, splendour and grandeur of their courts, the erudition of their centres of science and literature, and its rulers were inspired to new artistic life and further development in the field of art and music.

In this background it was inevitable that what was one purely Arabian became influenced by other cultures and in fact was enriched by it. Arabic music is a broad, macro concept, encompassing in its fold the music of the various cultures and communities that came in its contact from the seventh century to the thirteenth century.

In the light of the discussions above we have to state that in title of this book, the term ‘Persio-Arabian Music’ refers to the music of all the regions and nationalities of the Middle East that had come within its fold; this area within its inter-oriental character, which ‘much too carelessly, we call Arabian’, is referred to as the ‘Persio-Arabian Region’.

“Islamic music was born and cradled in Arabia; yet under Persian, Syrian and Greek tutelage, it became a universal art.” If we look back upon the history of music of the Middle East, we note that it has a direct connection to a series of successive political centres that existed in the Islamic world. These were the Hijaj Region, (in what is now Saudi Arabia), Damascus (Syria), Baghdad (in what is now Iraq), Cordoba (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), and Isfahan (in what is now Iran). Artists and scholars from these centres contributed towards the music as a whole. However it is convenient to separate three major traditions, Arabic, Turkish and Persian, which have combined to give us the music that is prevalent in countries of the Persio-Arabian Region. Moreover, we cannot ignore the cultural contribution of Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The music of the Persio-Arabian Region consists of folk music, classical concert music and Muslim religious music. The rich repertoire of folk music can be traced back to Middle Ages, the practice of classical concert was till the 20th century supported by royal and imperial courts; the third category of music prevalent in these countries is the Muslim religious music, which includes the cantillation of the sacred book the Koran and he call to prayer by the muezzin from the mosques, called Adhhan. Here, we must also mention about the music of the Sufi branch of Islam; this was secular music with sacred overtones in which music was used as a symbolic seeking of union with God by mystic poets and musician of the Sufi sect.

The diverse influences, mainly Persian, Syrian, Turkish, Spanish and Central Asian that blended homogeneously with the core Arabic elements of music and culture made up the music of the Persio-Arabian Region or the Middle East. Though the individual countries of this Region have now developed their own political independent identities, their geographical proximity and common religious and political past bound them into a common cultural entity and the focus of the book is to compare its music with that of Hindustani Music.

Now we shall look at those factors and events in the history of Hindustani music, which allowed penetration of Islamic faith and Arabo-Persian influence into the subcontinent; This resulted in the intermingling of the incoming music with the indigenous.

In the history of India major migrations and movements of invaders into the country was possible because of the passes and valleys in the North West mountains and hills. These migrations and historic invasions were of the Vedic Aryans (2nd millennium B.C.), Alexander the Great (327-324 B.C.), Mahmud Ghaznavi (died 1030 A.D.), Muhammad Gori (1193-1205 A.D.), Ibrahim Lodi (1414-1526 A.D.), the Mughal king Babur (1526-1556 A.D.) and Nadir Shah (1739 A.D.). By the 10th, 11th century groups from Afghanistan and Turkistan brought Islam to the subcontinent, and by the 13th and 14th centuries the Sultanate of Delhi had established, through their conquests, the pattern of religious distribution which prevails to this day. Throughout the Indo-Gangetic plain, the ruling class was predominantly Muslim, who ruled over population comprising of Hindus and Muslims (who were often converts). As early as the 14th century, the Tughlak Sultans of Delhi established Muslim rule in South India; however there were large areas, such as centers like Tanjore and Travancore which never came under Muslim Rule. This explains why North India was more influenced by Muslim culture and art than South India.

Till the period of the reigns of Mahmud Ghaznavi (died 1030 A.D.) and Muhammad Ghori (1193-1205 A.D.), the influence of the incoming culture of the Afghans and Turks was limited to the Punjab; but by the 13th and 14th centuries, almost the whole sub-continent, especially the North was affected by the culture, language and religion of the ruling class. This influence was in the spheres of literature, architecture and music. Thus the Medieval Period stands out in the history of Hindustani music, as it marks the beginning of Muslim rule in India.

According to Acharya Brihaspati, the Muslim rulers were lovers of art and music and gave patronages to musicians attached to their courts; they were specifically interested in the music being popularized by the Sufi saints of the time. The foremost of all Sufi saints in India, who was also a musician, was Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti (died 1235 A.D.). A prominent disciple of his was Muhammad Ghori (1193-1205 A.D.). Further, the ruler Kutubuddin Aibak (1206-1210 A.D.), was a devotee of Sufi Sheikh Kutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki; during his reign Qawwali singing was encouraged.

Hindustani Music, however, received its greatest impetus during the reign of Allah-ud-din Khilji, (1295-1316 A.D.), whose immense love and patronage of music has been described by the famous historian Ziauddin Barni in ‘Taarikhe Fhirozshahi’. Music gatherings of Sufi musicians were held in which experts from all over India participated. He had in court, the well known scholar and musician as he was in Amir Khusrau (1253-1324 A.D.); who also happened to be a solider and statesman. Amir Khusrau was equally proficient in Indian music as he was in Arabo-Persian music. He introduced many Persian Ragas into the Indian Raga system; and by blending them with the Indian Ragas, he formed new Ragas. Some of these are still sung to this day. There is no way to confirm, however, whether the structure of the Ragas during Amir Kusrau’s time was the same as it is in modern times. Some of the Ragas which were formed due to the intermingling of Persian and Indian Ragas were Ragas Yaman, Zilaf, Sazgiri, Sarparda, etc. He also helped to introduce and popularize certain Forms of Sufi classical music like Qawwali, Qual, Gazal, Naqsh, Gul and Baseet. The Qawwali performing style could be compared to a form called Nauba, performed in the Turkish, Persian and Arabic speaking regions of the Middle East; this has been mentioned in al-Asfahani’s (died 967 A.D.) book Kitab-al-Aghani. This Nauba performing style is popular even today. Therefore Amir Khusrau may not have invented this style, as is opined according to some, but merely introduced it into the Hindustani music genres being sung in those days.

Here we highlight a very important development in the music pertaining to the Medieval period; which is that the two systems of music had started blending and a synthesis was taking place between the Persio-Arabian Music and the existing Indian music. During the reign of Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior (1486-1516 A.D.), Muslim influence had begun to prevail on many aspects of music.

A manuscripts called Manakutuhala was written; this was a compilation of the discussions and deliberations on music held at the court of Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior, where many famed scholars had been invited. In 1662-1663 A.D., Faqirullah, a statesman musician who lived during Shah-Jahan’s and Aurangzeb’s period, translated this manuscript into Persian, called Tarjuma-i-Manakutuhala and wrote an additional commentary called Risala-i-Ragadarpana. It is from this treatise, that we get a very good glimpse of blending of the two systems of music, the incoming and he indigenous.




  Foreword vii
  Acknowledgement xi
  List of Abbreviations xvii
  Transliteration and Corrections xix
  Introduction xxi
  Objective, Rationale and Scope  
  Source Material and Literary Survey  
1 History and Development of the Music of the Persio-Arabian Region and Hindustani Music 1
  Music of the Persio-Arabian Region  
  Ancient Period  
  Pre-Islamic Period  
  Islamic Period  
  Modern Period  
  Hindustani Music  
  Vedic Period  
  Medieval Period  
  Modern Period  
2 Melodic Mode of the Countries of Persio-Arabian Region 34
  History of Modes During Different Periods  
3 Raga: The Hindustani Melodic Mode 64
  History of Development of Ragas in Hindustani Music  
  Fusion of Indian Music with the Incoming Persian and Arabian Music  
  History of Raga Classification  
4 Blending of the Melodic Mode of the Persio-Arabian Region and the Hindustani Raga 79
  Contribution of Musicians Towards the Blending of Raga and Maqam  
  Mansingh aur Manakutuhala  
  Tarjuma-i-Manakutuhala and Risala-i-Ragadarpana  
  Comments of Modern Authors on the Blending of Maqam and Raga  
  Music of India-1793 A.D.  
  Mousiqui Hazart Amir Khusrau  
5 Iqa-Rhythmic Melodic Mode of the Persio-Arabian Region-Comparison with the Tala of Hindustani Music 98
  Concept and History of Iqa  
  Tala of Hindustani Music  
6 Instruments 109
  Stringed Instruments  
  Ud (Lute)  
  Evolution of the Sarod from the Lute and Rabab  
  Long Necked Lutes of the Persio-Arabian Region  
  Kamancha-Bowed Lute  
  Percussion Instruments  
  Wind Instruments  
7 Tasir and Rasa-Comparative Analysis of Their Emotive Qualities 194
8 Forms and Other Comparable Aspects of the Music of the Persio-Arabian Region and Hindustani Music 203
  Forms or Performing Style  
  Folk Music Sociological Aspects  
  Conclusion 228
  Bibliography 237
  Index 240
Sample Pages

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