Elements of Western Music for Students of Indian Music (With Notation)

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Item Code: NAM182
Author: Prof. P. Sambamoorthy
Publisher: The Indian Music Publishing House, Chennai
Language: English
Edition: 2006
Pages: 31
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5 inch x 7.5 inch
Weight 60 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description

STUDENTS preparing for Degree Examinations in music of South Indian Universities are required to acquire an outline knowledge of Western music and Staff notation. A book treating of these topics from the

Stand-point of Indian students has been a long-felt desideratum. This book is intended to supply that want. The fundamentals of Western music and Staff notation have been explained here in a language and terminology familiar to Students of South Indian Music. With a Knowledge of Staff notation, one can have access to the folk melodies of many countries and also comprehend some- thing of the genius of western classical music. The scale of Sankarabharana which is the Major Diatonic scale is the common property of humanity. Students of western music, will by going through this book get to know some- thing of the basic principles of Indian music.

Students of Indian music who desire to pursue further the study of Western music may do so with the help of standard books on the subject and with the help of competent teachers of western music.


All systems of music are based and developed on certain aesthetic laws, truths and phenomena which hold good in all countries and at all times. That a note and its octave note or that a note and its perfect fifth (panchama) when sounded together gives a pleasant impression is a truth which holds good in all countries. The principles of consonance (samvaditva) and dissonance are the same all the world over. While proceeding to develop the music how-ever, the builders of the system in the East and West stuck to different principles.

‘Which successions of single notes will result in aesthetic pleasure',

was the ideal kept in view in India.

'Which successions of groups of notes (simultaneously sounded) will give aesthetic pleasure',

was the ideal kept in view in the west.

This Eka dhvani and Bahu-dhvani aspects respectively resulted in the Melodic and Harmonic systems of music.

This reminds one of a parallel in Hindu law. Two law- givers gave two different interpretations to the word Sapinda and this resulted in the two systems of Hindu law: Dnyabhaga and Mitakashara. One interpreted the term, pinda as body and sapinda as one related by blood relationship. The other interpreted pinda as oblations of rice balls and sapinda as one entitled to these offerings of rice balls. These two view-points resulted in sons and daughters obtaining a legitimate claim over the father's property in one case. and sons (agnatic relations) alone obtaining a legitimate claim over the father's property in the other case.

Aesthetic pleasure is the goal in music. In the melodic system, it is achieved by successions of single notes and in the harmonic and polyphonic systems, by successions of groups of notes or chords, the constituent notes of a chord being sounded simultaneously. Polyphony is a case of plural melodies, all played together and each melody having an independent interest. In polyphonic music, the notes heard at anyone single moment need not necessarily be related as the notes of a chord. In harmony, there is a principal melody with an accompaniment of chords. The musical expressions adopted in the East and the West are thus two channels of one parent stream of musical thought.

Eschewing all ideas of western harmony, Indian music; developed along pure melodic lines. The raga system with its multiplicity of scales, delicate quarter-tones and subtle gamakas naturally developed. Numerous rhythms also came to be used. The raga system is India's gift to the world's musical thought.

It is useful for students of Indian music to know the fundamental principles on which western music has been developed. It will widen their musical outlook and make them understand the beauties underlying the manner in which the language of music has been wielded by geniuses in the western hemisphere. With their knowledge of the cycles of fifths and fourths and of the principles underlying the derivation of scales through the process of modal shift of tonic, Indian students are in a better position to grasp the theoretical basis of Western music.

In Western music, sticking to the same scale i.e., Sankarabharana variety is obtained by changing into parallel and related keys in the course of a composition. But in Indian music, sticking to the same key or adhara shadja, variety is obtained by changing into different ragas.

When melodies are conceived in the West, they are con-ceived with a harmonic conscience i.e., how these melodies will ultimately shine in the harmonic garb. But in India, melodies are conceived solely with a view to the presentation of the raga bhava in all its rich colours.

Melodic music is one-dimensional and has a length alone. The gamakas however constitute a second dimension in melodic music. But harmonic music has both length and breadth.


Svara Nomenclature
IIStaff Notation2
IIIThe Advent of Staff Notation6
IVTechnical Terms8
Supplements: Examples of Karnatic Melodies in Staff Notation16

Sample Pages

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