This book is very important one on Indian Music and it has been honoured all over the world due to its extraordinary features. It is very interesting for the persons who love the music of our country. The author has made all the chapters very attractive by giving many illustrations and has given a simple method of music so that an ordinary person may understood easily and may take advantage of his experience and intelligence.
First of all the author has introduced all the essential characteristics of music and the development of music early days, which are necessary to know for the readers. The First Chapter opens with the description of the conditions under which the songs were collected. The Second Chapter is also very important as it contains the description of dances and songs of various parts of India. In Chapter IV, the account of folk songs and folk instruments is also praiseworthy and such account is nowhere available in any book on Indian Music.
Chapter VI shows various kinds of Raag along with some examples. Time and season for particular Raag and their sources have been discussed veriably by the author. Chapter VIII is also very attractive as it has comparison of Indian system of music with the European system of music, with special reference of carnatics system of music. In Chapter XII, at the end the author has compared Indian Melody with European Melody and such analysis of both the above said melodies was never given by any writer in the world.
Our country is called the Indus and Ganges basing and this book basically deals with the music of the said part of India. It has also a reference to the “Carnatic System” which has been fully described in the well known book “Music of Southern India and the Deccan” written by Mr. C.R. Day.
The study of music of India is a matter of interest to those who like son and specially interesting to the persons who have studied the early stages of song in Mediaeval Europe or ancient Greece. It is hardly possible in case of Modern European Folk song to study melody pure and simple, for we have no large body of such song of which we can certainly say that it was not influenced at all by the current conception of harmony. But here is melody absolutely uninfluenced by harmony, which has developed through many centuries tendencies which have legal force and the examination of these enables us to some extent to separate the respective contributions of melody and harmony to the final effect in our music. Those to whom this aspect of the subject appeals should read chapter Nos. VI,VII,VIII & XII after going through chapter Nos. I & II. Chapter No. IV & V are very important to those who are interested in technical side of song to who the main charm lies in the memories of India, which it revives, may find more of what they would care to read in the Intro duction & Chapter Nos. I, II & III.
The instruments and the notation which are two important branches of music always remained untouched. About notation there is very little to say except that it is a Tonic-Sol-fa notation of which the various to local scripts and special signs are easily mastered. The typical instruments have been very ably described and illustrated by Day; the more interesting part, the technique, can of course, be conveyed only orally, with the instrument in hand. But India is now, instrumentally, at the same stage as mediaeval Europe, with a great variety of means of supporting the voice to but absolutely no sense orchestration; those a close study of its instruments would probably reveal more than one ancestor of those which our orchestra employs, it would hardly throw much light on any principle of art, been made in favour of the drum the treatment of which is possibly unique.
All the people have honoured this book due to its extra-ordinary qualities and the readers will be surprised to find the facts given here differently from the way to which they accustomed, they are asked to remember that as there is no one system which is applicable to the whole, so the circumstance that one set of facts is quoted rather thad need vitiate the arguments, and it is hoped that they will not pay attention to some mistakes if occurred due to ignorance and oversight. This book is a valuable creation of the author which has been prepared by him by his labour and the publishers have also take a keen interest in publishing it in order to convey the experience and ability of the author.
People who lived in India have often asked, with various inflexions of voice, ‘Do you like’-or, you really like Indian music?’ The more one thinks what the answer to this should be, the more it seems to resolve itself into another-‘Do you really understand it?’ to which there can, of course, be no final answer. Indeed, it would be difficult with regard to our own music to reply satisfactorily to the question, or to do more than put down a few of the points that need to be understood.
History crystallized at any given moment into convention, or summed up popularly as association, plays a large part in all that we hear. When we are listening to music and think we ‘understanding’ it, we are often making no great intellectual effort at all; our mind is really working in well-worn grooves and exercising little judgment. We listen to a sonata of Beethoven or Brahms which is new to us, as a boy reads a new specimen of his well-known and accredited brand of Weyman or Kipling and finds much what he expected. But when we are confronted with a new composer, and these conventions seem for the moment to be disregarded, when an addition to the orchestra, a new treatment of the voice, an unfamiliar harmony, unconventional counterpoint, or a recast of structure distract our attention from the main issue, there is a great deal to understand and we are apt to flounder. We do not ‘like’ the music because we do not altogether ‘understand’ it. It is sometimes thought that understanding is not necessary to liking: that music is like a peach-a thing to be enjoyed, not understood. Without denying that the senses can convey to us things of which the mind can give no account, it may be asked whether there is not a point of view from which even a peach requires to be understood. Do we not like it more, that is, understand more by it, amongst the associations of a sunny garden, or with a pleasant companion, and could a man like it-understand it –at all if only peaches stood between him and starvation, or if he were under sentence of death? A piece of scenery is truly enjoyed only in proportion as a man knows what he is looking for and realizes what he has found. It is a synthesis, but it is analysable, even if we do not consciously analyse. It is the same with music.
Another difficulty in hearing music consista not in the departure from the old-established methods so much as in the substitution of new and strange conventions and associations. Cosmopolitan as the music of Europe is, we still feel the distinction of nationality. In a song by a foreign composer, whether the worlds are translations from his language or originals in our own are conscious of passages in the music itself which to us, do not seem, to be quite the natural expression of the sentiment of the song. A German hardly seems to get at the conciseness nor a Frenchman at the dignity of what we feel. And it is a true instinct which leads singers to employ the language of the foreign composer rather than a translation, even when it is by Paul England at his best, or than the original English, even when the world are by Scott or Burns. Again, it is difficult for us to seize the point of thought of a Moussorgsky or a Ravel, not merely because they are new, but because they select and develop aspects aspects of our common heritage of European music. We might summarize such distinctions by saying that music which is to move the listener must be for a German solid and profound, for a Frenchman pungent and antithetical, for a Russian poignant and elemental, while we ourselves find our account best perhaps in humour verging on irony. At the same time the modifications of the general trend of European musical thought, as it is taken up into this or that national mind are slight, the differences of idiom hardly more than dialectical; we are still travelling in the mother country, but for the moment, in an unfamiliar part of it. But when we look beyond the ‘intense cultivation’ of Western democracies, away from spirit of competition, the method of science, and the claims of ‘effciency’, to the calm of the East, where a man’s life is his own or at most his family’s concern, rather than the State’s, where there is time to live it, where truth is found neither in analysis compromise, and spiritual food is not contained in tabloids, we do not know what to make of music which is dilatory without being sentimental and utters passion without vehemence.
Another kind of music which has for us unfamiliar convention is the polyphony of the Middle Ages. Here it is not the place but the time that is unfamiliar; we have suddenly thought away four centuries of our civilization. We step aside from the battle of the styles to contemplate achieved beauty. We wonder now there are such workmen as those who built these melodies, what their secret was, and what the life of which these the expression. They move us forlorn hopes and lost joys, like the places we knew when we were children, like the land to which Blake hurried home from Santa Cruz. They appeal by their freshness and strangeness, but still more by an intimate familiarity. As an Englishman who happened to see for the first time the slope of a Sussex down would feel, apart from its intrinsic beauty, that it was the most English thing that he ever saw, so from these, apart from their intrinsic beauty of religion gets best at that truth which is beyond all limit and condition. Here the different convention helps rather than hinders him; just as his deepest intimations of those thoughts which are beyond words are conveyed to him more easily in Elizabethan language and in Hebrew phraseology than in any other form. It is this strange familiarity, which we are conscious of in Indian melody, that makes us sure that “though our language is different and our habits are dissimilar, at the bottom our hearts are one”.
But more imagination is needed to place ourselves at the point of view from which we may enjoy the method of early folk-song, that is, of melody conceived apart from harmony; and it is very difficult for those who those who have thought all melody with an underlying harmony, tacit or explicit, to accept it without harmony, except after long practice. Consequently they are seldom asked so to accept it; except for specialists, no folk-song is published without accompaniment. The problem is a difficult one, for if a harmonized folk-song, like a restored cathedral, is a persistent lie, yet a folk-song without harmony seems, at any rate for most of us, to fall to pieces, like a picture without perspective. There is another connexion between harmony and melody more intimate still, whereby harmony is no longer a mere adornment to melody which can be added or not, at will, but a vital factor influencing the actual structure of the melody itself. We may harmonize, if we please, ‘Green Sleeves’ or ‘Walsingham’ or the ‘Agincourt Song’ without doing them much harm; but if harmony, as we understand it, had been in the air these could never have come to birth. A tune is just a musical sentence, paragraph, or chapter. And a sentence consists of important and unimportant words, and is not a string of dictionary words. In the same way a tune consists of important and unimportant notes, depends for its convincingness upon a judicious management of these. But the principles upon which this ‘importance’ depends are different for melody and for harmony.
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