Philosophy of Indian Music - Contribution of of The Trinity
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Philosophy of Indian Music - Contribution of of The Trinity

Item Code: NAO539
Author: John Christopher Kommalapudi
Publisher: Akansha Publishing House
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788183702065
Pages: 260
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch x 6.0 inch
Weight 470 gm
About the Book

It is impossible to divorce Indian music from the whole structure of Indian culture and philosophy with which it is interwoven in a number of ways from the earliest times of which we have records.

The idea of music as a divine art implies that music is not considered on its merits alone, but points beyond itself and man to the divine. Thus music can be understood as an invention of divinities or as a general principle of divine creation.

This work presents a vivid account of the philosophy of Indian Music in coherent way. The valuable information is gathered under the following chapters: Introduction; Philosophic and Religious Roots of Indian Music; Nada-Brahman; Vedic Music; Svaras and Ragas; Devotional Music of South India; The Trinity of South Indian Music: Their Contribution; Summary and Conclusion, followed by an exhaustive bibliography.

Definitely, this will serve the purpose of scholars in the field of history, culture, religion and philosophy, music and fine arts.

About the Author

Dr. John Christopher Kommalapudi was born and brought up in Ramachandrapuram, East Godavari Dristrict, Andhra Pradesh, India. He completed Post Graduations in Philosophy and Political Science and a Bachelor's degree in Library Science. He was awarded Ph.D. from the Andhra University. Presently he is a Faculty Member in the Department of Philosophy, Andhra. University, Visakhapatnam. Dr. Christopher evinced keen interest in teaching philosophy and also music. He is a trained Musician in Indian and Western classical music systems. His contributions in both the academic and the art of music are appreciable.

He is also Film Music Director, known as "Maharishi! in South Indian Film Industry and scored Music for some movies. He has also released number of devotional albums.

He presented various papers on Philosophy of music in many seminars conducted by different universities in India. There are some books and articles published to his credit, on philosophy and also music.


Music has been defined as a way to attain the purusarthas of life. In the ancient world it was always connected with a philosophical or ethical choice. The philosophy of Indian music was part of the analysis of Sound or Nada, which included in its ambit, music and dance, grammar, language and meaning. All the systems of philosophy have accepted the concept of Nada. The total philosophy of Indian music was not contained in one text or series. Since the Vedic times onwards the ethical, aesthetic and spiritual use of music has been clearly evident. India, more than any other culture, has emphasized the role of music in attaining transcendence.

This book is casting its light on emerging ideas and interests in philosophy in general and in philosophy of music in particular. The foundational concept of this book, that the values of music are gained through direct experiences with its meaningful sounds, remains intact, is explained and applied in broader, more inclusive in scope, with a philosophical stance as the basis. In addition, it clarifies and updates for readers the explanations of musical feeling, musical creativity, and musical meaning that are at its core. Dr. K. John Christopher has spared no pains in culling the material from more than 300 publications in preparing this valuable conspectus-"Philosophy of Indian Music: Contribution of the Trinity." This work will be an outstanding contribution besides being a boon to scholars and students of music.

Dr. John Christopher's wide range historical study of Indian music covers from the earliest historical traces of our music to the present day. What I feel that he is the most authoritative in this realm as he examined early texts and authorities in detail. The philosophical values of Indian music must be brought to match with modernity. Dr John Christopher has both the requisite musicianship and the scholarship for such a task. "Philosophy of Indian Music: Contribution of the Trinity" is both an admirable work of art and a real contribution to the movement towards greater understanding of philosophy of Indian Music, ushering new horizons in analyzing this art in a philosophical way.

The present book is one of the mast important contributions to the study and understanding of philosophy of music and I commend it to the reader whole heartedly. I congratulate the author for his zeal and wish him that he will contribute his spirit in philosophy of music.


Music is a spiritual art and science of harmony. It is the divine art, considered by philosophers, seers, musicologists and poets. It bestows absolute bliss and happiness upon mankind, which are permanent and everlasting. Music melts the hearts of the human being and draws every living being with its magical notes, transporting the listeners to the unknown region of enchanting sound harmonies. The purest form of Sadhana can raise the musician to the mystic truth of philosophy and in that stage the musician could be in direct communion with the heavenly bliss and could achieve an immediate awareness of the absolute truth and tranquility.

The word music comes from the Greek `mousike' and is derived from 'Muse'. The Muses were supposed to have been entities responsible for all the arts and for being the mysterious suppliers of artistic inspiration to humans. Historians suggest that use of the word mousike implies a relationship between music and poetry which continues to survive to the present day.

Aristotle pointed out that it is not easy to determine the nature of music or why anyone should have knowledge of it. In the modem times there has been a rational attempt to distinguish between music and noise. A musical tone accepts to have a uniformity of vibration that grants it a fixed tone. Tone is only one component of music. There are also, rhythm, timbre (or tone colour - i.e. a note played on a flute has a different timbre to exactly the same note played on a trumpet, etc.) and texture.

The ability of music to have a profound effect on humans has been recognised from the earliest references recorded in history. It has been regularly applied in the service of religions since the time of the Vedic hymns in ancient India. For the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, music was regarded as a department of mathematics. He laid the foundations of acoustics, which led to recognize the relationship between pitch and the length of a string.

Plato considered music to be a part of ethics and was anxious to regulate the use of modes (arrangements of notes into scales) because of their various effects on humans. Plato saw a relationship established between the character of a man and the music that represented him. He argued that rhythmic and melodic complexity should be avoided that could lead to depression and disorder. Plato advocated simplicity. Music, in its perfect form, would echo divine harmony; rhythm and melody would imitate the movements of heavenly bodies (the origin of the idea of music of the spheres) and reflect the moral order of the universe. Plato distrusted the emotional power of earthly music. He argued that certain sensuous modes were dangerous and advocated a strong censorship of music. He approved of music in only accepted ethical forms, which he valued. For Plato then, music was a psycho-sociological phenomenon. Even though Plato's attitude towards Music saw it as a shadow of the Ideal, it accepted a symbolic significance of the art.

Aristotle developed the concept of art as imitation, but argued that music could also express the universal. His idea that works of art could contain a measure of the truth within themselves strengthened the symbolic view. Aristotle fell on line with Plato with the view that music could mould the human character. He admitted that all the modes recognize the happiness and pleasure which could be of value to both individual and the state. He advocated a rich musical diet. Aristotle also stated that those with only theoretical knowledge of music could not be good judges with regard to performance as those who could perform it. Aristotle's pupil Aristoxenus gave considerable credit to the powers of perception of the listener to music. According to Aristoxenus music has got to play a functional and emotional role that requires hearing and intellectual abilities by the listener.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, as new schools of philosophy emerged, attempts were made to re-evaluate music. Kepler was a new Pythagorean, who argued for followed by planetary movement, the harmony of the spheres etc, while Descartes saw it as an arm of mathematics and followed Plato in the matter of demanding moderate rhythms and simple melodies that would not excite and perhaps cause immoral outcomes. Leibniz argued music that mirrored a universal rhythm and reality that was constructed from mathematical relationships. Music was a means by which this could be experienced in the subconscious mind. Kant ranked music as the lowest of the arts, distrusting its wordlessness, but gave it some value when combined with the word. Hegel acknowledged the power of music like Kant and preferred vocal music. Hegel made a new observation, that music had no independent existence in space and was not therefore objective. Hegel prognosticated that music was of value only in subjective form to any individual appreciating it. For Hegel the essence of music was rhythm and its counterpart was found in man's innermost self.


  Foreword ix
  Prefatory Note xi
  Acknowledgements xiii
1 Introduction 1
2 The Philosophic and Religious Roots of IndianMusic 16
3 Nada-Brahman 38
4 Vedic Music 76
5 Svaras and Ragas 115
6 Devotional Music of South India 148
7 The Trinity of south Indian Music: Their Contribution 182
8 Summary and Conclusion 221
  Bibliography 239
  Index 245


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