About the Book
With its roots in the Samaveda (which treats it as a "divine art"), music in India has a long, splendid tradition. Over the centuries, it has absorbed fresh influences and experimented with new forms to finally evolve into two meticulously codified classical systems: Hindustani and Carnatic. In today's growing library of writings on Hindustani music, Anjali Mittal's research is yet another valuable addition adopting, as it does, a viewpoint which has been neglected so far, namely, the viewpoint of contemporary western aesthetics.
It is for the first time that this monograph examines the concept of form in Hindustani classical music. In this context, analytic attention has been focused on some select compositions in dhruvapada, dhamar, tarana, vailambit and drut khyal genres of Hindustani classical vocal music. A wide variety of drut tanas has also been analysed in terms of notation and linear diagrams. Such diagrams, in fact, distinguish the present volume. Analysis of some rhythm-cycles and rhythmic patterns is another feature of this book.
Thoroughly documented and written in a jargon-free language, the study includes a contextual discussion of aesthetics, artistic expression, aesthetics predicates and, above all, the concept of artistic form. The work may be expected interest all those who want an analytic understanding of what form (or bandisa) means in the region of Hindustani classical vocal music.
As I begin this preface, my first impulse is to thank my stars on the completion of this work. The subject it discusses is by no means very easy, and I have indeed been lucky to receive, all along, kindly encouragement from my colleagues at the University where I work; and abounding help from my exceptionally sympathetic Guru, Professor S.K. Saxena, to whom I am inexpressibly grateful.
My colleagues and friends, namely, Najma, Sunita, Anupam, Vijaya, and Gullu in particular, have all been very actively helpful, in different ways. They goaded me to keep going whenever I seemed to wobble in my course; and the first four of them never failed to make such adjustments in our teaching work as could release a little more time for my research.
Professor V.K. Aggarwal, our Dean and Departmental Head when I wrote this work, has helped me in many ways. Without his blessings it would have been clearly impossible for me to achieve my purpose, and so I greatly value his help. As for Professor Debu Chaudhari, our internationally famous sitar maestro, he not only gave me one helpful hint in connexion with my treatment of raga-rupa, but has even been impatient for, and not merely interested in, the completion of the present work.
Next only to what Prof. Saxena has done for me, active and substantial help has been received from my didi, Prof. Krishna Bisht, who is herself a vocalist of no mean merit. When I was finding it difficult to really settle the question of the comparative value of vadi-samvadi and the 'catch-phrase' in the context of raga-rupa, she provided me with some excellent material for thought. Further, it is she who picked for me the khyal-tanas to be analysed, and drew my attention to a clear defect in one of the compositions I had analysed a defect which was promptly remedied. I therefore feel impelled to acknowledge my indebtedness to her, even at the risk of embarrassing her.
In respect of notations, the compositions analysed in this work have been checked by the late Dr. (Mrs.) Lalit Mathur; and from the viewpoint of rhythm, by the late Ustad Chhamma Khan (tabla) and Pandit Tej Prakash 'Tulsi' (pakhavaj). I feel beholden to all of them.
It would perhaps look odd to thank my family too. But I must at least acknowledge the help I have received from my husband, Sri S.P. Mittal, and my daughter, Meghna. They happily did quite a few household chores which were really my duty; and so provided me with more time to concentrate on my work.
I cannot help recalling, at this point, the debt that I owe to my teachers in vocal music: Pandit Sita Ram, who initiated me into the art, and the late Ustad Naseer Ahmad Khan who took me further on the course, and whose exquisite eye for the beauty of little details will for ever remain a source of inspiration to me.
As for the content of the work, it is clearly different from what we commonly find in books on music. The viewpoint is neither historical nor grammatical, but aesthetic. It is only in the field of aesthetics that we find serious reflection on concepts like form and expression. The present work seeks to do the same in relation to Hindustani music.
I do not, however, make any claim to exceptional achievement.
I must add, in the end, that barring the khyal-s, all the rhythmic (tabla and kathak) and melodic compositions I have discussed in the fifth chapter, The Knitwork of Musical Form, have been provided by Prof. Saxena; and that the dhruvapada, dhamar and tarana bandisa-es are his own creations.
I expect this modest essay to promote interest in the aesthetical study of our music.
About the Author
Dr. Anjali Mittal teaches Hindustani Classical Music and Aesthetics at the University of Delhi. She passed her B.A. Hons. and M.A. examinations from the same institution, getting a high first class on both occasions. As a vocalist herself, Dr. Mittal had the privilege of learning Hindustani Classical Music under the wing of the Late Ustad Nasir Ahmed Khan of Delhi Gharana. As a result of this training, she is now a proficient vocalist herself; and her music can be heard from A.I.R., Delhi every now and then. Presently a Reader in the Faculty of Music & Fine Arts of Delhi University, Dr. Anjali Mittal is one the few teachers of music whose concern with the art follows the way of contemporary aesthetics.
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