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The Story of Indian Music and its Instruments (A Study of the Present and a Record of the Past)

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Item Code: NAX723
Author: Ethel Rosenthal
Language: English
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 9788177695434
Pages: 262 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 7.00 X 5.00 inch
Weight 270 gm
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Book Description

THE present work, an outline sketch of the subject, does not claim to be a comprehensive study of Indian music. The chapters were written primarily with a view to stimulating interest in Indian music, in the hope that English readers already acquainted with the subject might be encouraged to pursue their studies further, while new recruits might be added to the small group of Western music lovers, prepared to further the cause of Indian music. The author has not attempted to treat the subject exhaustively, but has endeavoured, rather, to enumerate some of the many attractive features which emphasise the charm, dignity and interest of Indian music.

The soul of a nation is revealed through the medium of its art, and appreciation of that art pro-motes sympathy for the land from which it springs. It is through the medium of Indian music that the author has striven to acquire some comprehension of the psychology of the Indian people and of the Land of Wonders-where she has spent several years of enthralling interest. Perchance, this book may act as a link to reinforce the chain which unites music-lovers of East and West. If so, the author will be amply repaid for her labour of love. She has tried to acknowledge all sources of informa-tion, and has compiled the bibliography for the assistance of readers anxious to consult those sources for themselves.

The warmest thanks of the author are due to many friends in India for their valuatle assistance. Space does not permit of individual mention of each helper who ungrudgingly placed time and talent at her disposal. She is as much indebted to those who urged her to proceed with her studies, as to those who offered her material aid, by affording her opportunities to become acquainted personally with Indian musicians, and to attend their performances.

The several languages current in India, the decay of records due to climatic conditions, and the illiteracy of a vast percentage of the population create many hindrances to the research worker, anxious to obtain, from local sources, reliable information respecting Indian music. Owing to the many tongues spoken in various quarters of the Indian Empire, and to diverse forms of orthography, the spelling of Indian words presents grave difficulties to the foreigner. The author apologises for her ignorance, and for having failed to conform to the Ilunterian system of transliterating vernacular names. She craves the indulgence of Indian readers, should they observe names in unfamiliar guise and unaccented. The lack of standardised methods, which constitutes a stumbling-block to the Indian engaged in the study of Hindustani and Carnatic music, presents an obstacle wellnigh insuperable to the European. Should this work contain statements which are not in conformity with the views of some authorities on Indian music, the author would recall the many controversial problems relating to the art, on which even learned pandits are at variance.

She is particularly grateful for the privilege ac-corded her of access to the magnificent Parmanand Library at Jhalrapatan, where many valuable works now out of print were consulted, and for the kind permission granted for the view of the naubat khana to be taken expressly to illustrate this work.


THE Vindhya mountains form a natural barrier between Hindustan and the Deccan. The differences between the inhabitants of Northern and Southern India are considerable, and the two great divisions of Indian music, into the Hindustani, or Northern, school and the Carnatic, or Southern, school must not be overlooked by any foreigner, who would become acquainted with the classification of rdgas or melody modes. All ragas express certain rasas, or emotions; when their language is under-stood, the soul of Indian music is revealed in all its beauty. Yet Indian music must he regarded as a whole-albeit a composite whole-if its full import is to be comprehended, for it reflects the varying characteristics of a people who have submitted to widely divergent influences. Owing to his geo-graphical position, the northerner has been more directly affected by foreign elements than his Dravidian brother of the south, yet the same spirituality underlies the finest and best in music, both north and south, and this same spirituality constitutes a bond of sympathy between Asiatic and European musicians, who believe in the sanctity of their art. In Hindu lore, the invention of numerous musical instruments is attributed to the gods, and the affection of Indian musicians for their winds, flutes and drums is similar to the devotion which Western instrument-lists bestow upon their pianos, violins and 'cellos. The affection of the European concert artist, how-ever, is usually of a practical nature, and is evidenced by the trouble which he takes to maintain his instrument in perfect condition. The devotion of the Indian performer is possibly more idealistic. Perchance his love for his instrument blinds him to its defects, while he is hampered further by a lack of reliable makers to whom he could entrust his instrument for repair.

The modern tendency to combine the northern and southern systems is significant of the unity which constitutes the bedrock of Indian music as a whole. The systematisation of ragas, and the fusion of the northern and southern methods, are subjects which have figured on the agenda of the All-India Music Conferences. Attempts are being made also to introduce the study of music into the curricula of primary and secondary schools and colleges. All these measures augur well for a much-needed renaissance in Indian music, and if, or when, the proposal to found a musical academy in New Delhi materialises, it seems probable that the future welfare of Indian music will be assured.

Owing to absence of harmony and to unfamiliar melodic progressions, due to the employment of microtones, and the general absence of the tempered scale, it is no easy matter for a European to appreciate Indian music at a first hearing. As his ear becomes attuned to Eastern airs, however, the Westerner realises that freedom of melody compensates for lack of harmony, and learns to estimate the drone at its true value. The heart of Indian music is its melody, and, to become sensitised to its charm, the Western ear must accustom itself to the employment of grace notes as a means of characterisation. Grace in Indian music is essential, not accidental, and supplies the chiaroscuro which harmony furnishes in Western compositions.

and the eighth centuries A.D., and it is probable that the apex of Indian music was reached about the same period. In the world-famous cave temples of Ajanta, situated in the north-west of the dominions of His Exaltead Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad, there are many carvings representing musicians and dancers. Cave I at Ajanta, dating probably from the commencement of the seventh century, was de-signed as a Buddhist monastery, and amongst its wealth of sculptural decoration, figure musical instruments, such as drums, flutes and trumpets. Possibly one of the causes which has contributed to the fall of music from its high estate is the absence of standard notation. The vital question of notation has aroused much discussion at every conference on Indian music, held during the past decade. Despite the Indian's inherited facility for memorising, the treasures of Indian national music cannot be pre-served satisfactorily until the problem of notation has been solved, although phonographs and gramophones serve a useful purpose.

In India, there is a vast profusion of folk music which varies according to locality.

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