Time Measure and Compositional Types In Indian Music: A Historical and Analytical Study of Tala, Chanda and Nibaddha Musical Forms

Item Code: IDI137
Author: Subhadra Chaudhary, Translated into English by Hema Ramanathan
Publisher: Aditya Prakashan
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 8186471022
Pages: 546
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 5.5"X 8.6"
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Book Description
Raga, one of the two facets of Indian music, the other being tala, is expressed through nibaddha. Inspite of the fact that the complete personality of a raga finds expression, only in anibaddha, nibaddha, though being short in duration, has always been accorded an important place. Right from the gitakas and the dhruvas of Natyasastra and varieties of prabandhas and song forms. Tala is the scale, which measures and provides basis to nibaddha and anibaddha therefore, it also has a definite shape. All sung forms have either meaningful or meaningless word-content, which can also metrical. Hence chanda is also nibaddha form. The Present work is basically a study of the three main nibaddha forms, viz., tala, prabandha and chanda. Gitaka and dhruva have been included because they are related to these three.

The research work on tala done during 19th and 20th century is not more than five percent of the total work on various aspects of Indian music. Efforts were mainly directed towards compiling talas and their thekas (fixed syllabic patterns of tala), bols, relas, parans etc. in various talas and in various speeds and chandas, the material for learning playing techniques of tabla and pakhavaj and their playing materials etc. Obviously the stress laid on the performing aspect of tala based on avanaddha vadya (drums). A Scientific and appropriate effort towards an analysis of the fundamental concepts of tala, interpretation of technical terminology, historical changes, explanation and clarification of the relation and differences between the ancient and the current terms was carried out only in the 8th decade of the present era through the theses submitted for the PH.D. degree. Prabandha, chanda and dhruva have altogether been left untouched and neglected. The thesis submitted by the author was a pioneer work in respect of all these subjects which was updated, for Hindi edition and later for the present English Edition.

The work is divined into 5 chapters encompassing tala, gitaka, prabandha, chanda and dhruva. Tala which gains first place among these has been taken up in the 1st chapter. According to the ancient view tala did not have an independent existence because it is the element, which is meant to provide basis to and measure gita, vadya and nrtta. The talas were manifested in gitakas, hence the 2nd chapter deals with gitakas. Svara, tala and pada are the 3 elements of gitakas and prabandhas also comprise of these three. Moreover, gitaka and prabandha both are sung forms. Due to this affinity between the two the chapter on the prabandha follows gitaka. Pada (word content) has a primacy in prabandha wherein chanda plays an important role. Besides, pada and chanda are closely inter-related hence chanda has been placed in the chapter next to prabandha. Last but not the least are the dhruvas, the sung chandas of the Natyasastra, which have been discussed in the last chapter. Thus all the 5 chapters are related to their preceeding chapters.

The laksana- parampara gitaka. Pada (the tradition of codification) of the ancient Indian music is very old whose first ever-available evidence is the Natyasastra (approximately 500 BC.) This system of music continued developing till the Sangitaratnakara (13th c. AD.) But during later period the original system developed in various streams just as the branches and offshoots of a tree grown from a single seed. The two accepted systems of Northern and Southern India, the result of the above of tala, prabandha and chanda both these systems have been taken into account to the utmost possible extent.

It is worthy of mentioned that the material of the present work was originally published in Hindi under the title " Bharatiya Sangita Mem Tala Aur Rupa-vidhana" in 1984. After this publication, suggestions to bring out an English translation of this book continued coming from scholars, friends and students. Hence the present publication was taken up with a view to extend the benefit to non-Hindi speaking readers too. But instead of bringing out just a translation the author considered it more useful to publish English version after updating the material with what she has been able to do on the subject after the Hindi publication. The fruition of this effort is the present work entitled " Time-measure and Compositional Types In Indian Music."

Almost in all the chapters changes have been made but major alterations and additions have been made in sections A, B and C of the chapter on tala, section A of prabandha and sections A and B of chanda. Section E has been added to prabandha to included examples of some song-forms in notation. Besides necessary changes, the material on dhruva has been made more coherent by rearranging it into 2 sections. Glossary has been appended to facilitate the reader to have an easy access of the meanings of technical terms and other important words occurring in the book.

The approach adopted in this book is being outlined below.
The contribution in general of the work needs mention. Main points are as follows:

1. The whole work is an outcome of research based almost entirely on source writings.
2. In Sangitasastra a term has often been employed in various senses. Hence, besides this, the derivations, etymology and significance of technical terms have been discussed in this work.

3. While a historical study of all the topics, based on ancient and medieval texts has been made the relation and differences between current practice and the ancient and medieval traditions have also been discussed.

4. There has been a very ancient, developed and firmly established tradition of technical terminology in Indian music. While some were replaced by new terms, the meanings of some of them changed, some concepts remained unchanged whereas the terms changed, while in some cases the terms and the concepts both were lost. An endeavour has been made to throw light on these.

5. Some prevalent notions and concepts have been refuted and new view points presented.

6. In the field of research it is possible that some questions remain unanswered. These problems have been raised at the relevant contexts to suggest the need for further thinking by the future researchers.

With regard to the subjects dealt with, the contribution of the book may be summarized as under:

1. A study of an important aspect of music such as tala has been done from historical, analytical and critical angles in one place only in this work and nowhere else. There have been two streams of tala – marga and desi. The Gandharva system expounded by Bharata has been accepted as marga and the tala practices different from this as desi. Basically there is no difference between the fundamental principles and elements of marga and desi. Desi talas developed because of the liberty to employ talas at one's own will and the changes that took place in the structures and the mode of employment. Hence study of the basic elements of tala based, primarily, on Natyasastra and Sangitaratnakara, exposition of desi talas on the basis of the original texts of 11th to 18th century and the relationship that the current tala system bears with marga and desi systems have been discussed.

2. The study of gitakas, the song forms employed in purvaranga (prelude to drama), poses many problems as their exposition is spread over various chapters in Natyasastra and complete description of a gitaka is not available at one place therein. Though Sangitaratnakara gives short and complete accounts of each gitaka, there is a difference in the basic approach and there are also minor differences here and there. Primarily based on N. S. and S. R. the present work presents a coherent description of gitakas and tries to rectify the differences. The misconceptions in respect of chandaka gitaka among 20th century writers on metrics have also been annulled.

3. Prabandha chapter, the largest in this work, deals with all the aspects of prabandha extensively. Analysis of the elements of prabandha, discussion of the basis of prabandha classification, analysis of guna-dosa (merits and demerits) of gita in various texts and their utility in prabandha, short descriptions of all the prabandhas available in important texts, study of the song forms falling under the category of prabandha, though not named as prabandha, are the important features of this chapter. Besides, succinct and lucid descriptions of all the prevalent song forms in Northern, Southern and Orissi music given in an independent section are found nowhere else. In order to give an idea of form of prabandha, some song forms found in late-medieval (16th century onwards) texts in notation have been included.

Jayadeva, the author of the Gitagovinda, has until now been considered to have innovated the 'pada' style of poetry. But it has been pointed out, through illustrations, that the origin of this style lies in stotras, a style prevalent many centuries before Jayadeva, though more and serious study of this subject is still wanting.

4. The chapter on chanda of the present work occupies an important place, which deals with chanda in a new perspective. Analysis of pada from various angles, clarification of the indistinct notions about pada, padya and chanda and wrong notions among modern writers on metrics about sampad, a technical term of prosody, discussion of the relation between chanda and tala, clear exposition of the difference between chanda and vrtta are the important areas discussed here. A short historical study of some of the important chandas right from Vedic to later Sanskrta tradition and of few other Indian languages has significantly contributed in depleting several misconceptions.

During last few centuries chanda has been taken to be granted just a property of kavya and its relation with music has remained unnoticed. An endeavour has been made here, with examples, to bring to forefront the clear and spontaneous expression and perception of chanda in various forms of music such as improvised tonal patterns, compositions comprising of non-sensical syllables and playing materials of string in struments and even drums.

Scholars have taken into consideration just the crests and troughs arising due to the occurance of guru (long) and laghu (short) syllables at certain places in chanda as the basis for the peculiar experience arising out of chanda. But, it has been pointed out here that pitch variations i.e. the highness-lowness of the sound during recitation of kavya and stress and non-stress on syllables at fixed places also play an important role in this experience.

There are many views regarding the origin, evolution and first composer of Ghanaksari, the most favourite Chanda of Hindi poets which has basically been considered a chanda belonging to kavya. An effort has been made here to prove that ghanaksari is a contribution of musicians and the first composer was nayaka Baiju. Basically it was the recitative form of sung padas and not a chanda and was later adopted in kavya and became a favourite Hindi poets.

An independent section in the same chapter deals with the relationship between specific talas wherein guidelines for the selection of appropriate tala and its starting point in the song, while composing music for a pada, have been provided.

5. Dhruva, the metrical songs sung in various situations of the drama, has been a perplexing subject and left unattended even by scholars on metre inspite of its being in the purview of chanda. The main reason seems to be the loss of the tradition of dhruvagana. Besides presenting a study of sung dhruvas and instrumental dhruvas in the form of nirgitas, metricity in nirgitas and specific dhruvas employed in purvaranga has also been discussed.

In short, excepting gitaka, and to a certain extent tala, whereon authentic work has been done by other scholars too, the work presents a comprehensive study of untouched, neglected or obscure areas such as prabandha, chanda and dhruva. The Hindi book has proved to be very useful to researchers as reference material, to teachers as supporting material and to students as text book. We hope that this English version will also be welcomed by non-Hindi speaking scholars, teachers, researchers, students and connoisseurs and inquisitive readers of Indian music. The author will, however, welcome suggestions and comments from readers for future edition of the book.

Back of the Book

This study aims at being a window to ancient Indian music and musical lore with Dattilam as the frame. The Dattilam of Dattila, venerated by later generations as a sage (muni), is a small text on music which in its aphoristic, Sutra-like, brevity compresses a remarkable amount of authoritative and valuable material. The text is about two millennia old is one of the very few survivals in its field from that age. The Dattilam is a masterpiece of methodical of methodical exposition: it neatly divides its subject into well-analysed parts and unfolds the whole with a thoughtfully planned logic. Though it musters much from many texts on music-ancient, medieval and modern- in order to study each topic comprehensively and comparatively, greater part of the present study is arranged round the original text itself, which is given critically examined reading along with a lucid translation.

The study up with many new insights and often breaks new ground. It gives us a feel of the wealth, complexity and sophistication of ancient musical literature. Many legendary names, such as those of Narada, Kohala, Visakhila- the three mentioned by Dattila-as well as Kambala, Asvatara, Nandi, Nancdikesvara among others, are picked out with careful research and placed within a living tradition humming with controversies.

The Natyasastra of Bharata has been especially studied in depth. For, in its section on music we have a text, which is largely parallel to the Dattilam. In interpreting the Natyasastra, the study takes the Abhinava Bharati of Abhinava Gupta (Circa 950 -1025 A.D.) as its guide. At the same time, it reviews exhaustively almost all authentic texts on Indian music, particularly the Bhraddesi of Matanga (7th century A.D.), Sangitaratnakara of Sarngadeva (13th Century A.D.) and Sangitaraja of Maharana Kumbha (15th Century A.D.), wherever these texts touch on subjects relevant to the Dattilam.

Since, the Dattilam is a work specifically on gandharva, the study extensively explores a corpus of this musical term before intrinsically in for the proper text.

From the Jacket

This work presents a historical and analytical study of five major subjects of Indian music, namely, Gitaka, Tala, Prabandha, Chanda and Dhruva. Of these Chanda, Prabandha (composition) and Dhruva (metrical songs employed in ancient drama) have been intensively dealt with by the author. Undoubtedly, it is a pioneer work in these so far untouched, ignored and obscure areas.

The work is based almost entirely on source materials. The derivations, etymology and significance of technical terms, handed down through a tradition of at least 2000 years, have minutely been discussed. Besides a historical study of all topics the relation between current practice and the ancient and medieval traditions of Indian music, a highly developed and most ancient system has also been discussed.

Since no such work has so far been published in English, it is hoped this work will, as the Hindi version of the title has done, prove to be useful to research scholars as a music treatise, to the teachers of the subject as a reference volume and to the students as a textbook and most certainly it will be welcomed by the scholars, connoisseurs and inquisitive readers of Indian music as well.

About the Author

Dr. Subhadra Chaudhary (b. 1936), an M. Music. And Ph. D., has authored several books, research papers and articles. She has to her credit 3 books- Bharatiya Sangita Meim Tala aur Rupa- vidhana, problems and Areas of Research in Music (ed.) and Sangita Sancayana; more than 45 articles and papers on music and allied subjects. Again she has been credited with contribution of research papers to more than thirty seminars. She has delivered lectures on Indian Music in Holland.

Table of Translationxi
Notation signsxii
1An Analysis of Tala and its Constituents1
1.1The Nature and Development of desi talas68
1.2The Exposition of Tala in Post-Ratnakara works109
1.3Tala in present practice131
2General Introduction151
3Analysis of Prabandha212
3.1The Description of Prabandha Varieties and Changes in the form of Prabandhas249
3.2Other forms of Prabandha285
3.3The Evolution and Present form of Songs Prevalent in Contemporary Practice293
3.4The Relation Between Stotra Literature and Prabandha and Pada324
4A General Introduction to Chanda and its Relation to Prose, Poetry, Tala, Instrument and Music349
4.1An Introduction to the Technical Terminology of Chanda374
4.2A Brief Survey of the origin and Development of Chanda391
4.3The Relation Between Specific Chandas and Specific Talas419
5The Dhruvas of Natya446
5.1Dhruvas Employeds in Purvaranga480
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