From The Jacket
Indian music is vast like an ocean, so deep that its depths can hardly be fathomed. It is said that the unique beauty of Indian music lies between the notes, where each note takes on a new life, turning into a stepping stone to reach its ultimate source - God. This book is an attempt to inspire interest and fascination on this enriching subject. Important aspects of Hindustani and Carnatic music have been discussed in a candid and unpretentious style provoking the reader to delve deep into unraveling the mystery and magic that underlie the essence of India music.
About The Author
Pandit Debu Chaudhuri is among the leading Indian Sitar maestros and one of the foremost exponents of the Senia gharana. With a multi-faceted personality as composer, teacher and creator of new ragas, he has been conferred the Padma Bhushan in 1992 and the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his invaluable contribution to Indian classical music.
My first book Sitar and Its technique was released in the year 1983, and it took me two years to complete it. The book, published in the field, made a very good impact in the international market as perhaps there was no book available which coveyed basic information on Indian classical music, particularly on the Sitar, our string instrument.
As a professor of music and Dean, Faculty of Music at the University of Delhi, I had the good fortune of teaching the less-endowed students of music, particularly those who did not possess the talent to become a good performer in future. My experience as a renowned performer for 58 years and a guru for 40 years in the University gave me that extra edge in assessing the problems faced by the layman in learning music.
Let me admit that there may be many shortcomings in this effort of mine, thought I have tried to present the text in a simple and lucid manner. I have even added a glossary to facilitate the understanding of words and terms related to music as the common man may not be familiar with them. I may have missed out some. However, to make things easy, the words in the glossary are presented in an alphabetical order. I am open to criticism and will appreciate any constructive comments that I may receive so that I may incorporate them in the next edition of this book.
Our heritage has a long history and this is known to all of us. My effort, however small, is to spread this precious art among the masses. Most of our text on Indian musicology pertains to the history of music, but my effort here is to simplify the theoretical aspects in relation to the practical aspects of music.
While writing this book, I have taken help from various sources including the books written by renowned Indian scholars in music. Among the foreign authors, I have taken references from the books written by my friends, Dr. Alain Danielou, Fox Strangways and Captain Day.
We have to accept that our music is indeed the most sophisticated, oldest and developed in the world. Nowhere can we come across a system where each not is regarded as a stepping stone to reach God and where each note is lively because it is applied according to the required frequency of the particular raga. On a chromatic scale we have 12 notes but in our music, there are 22 shrutis (microtones) and each shrutis has its own place of application for a particular note in a particular raga. Our raga system is a melodic concept and is only one of its kind in the world. It expresses rasa (sentiments) depending on the time of the day.
Indian music lies in between the notes, that is, each note is not only lively but also has it sown expression, which takes a new life in the hands of an able performer. Our music system is not only unique but also brings us to the point where we try to associate human physiology with sound. It is often said that a human body is like a Veena (a string instrument) and has been described in our ancient shastras (scriptures) as Shariri Veena- what could be a better way of expressing the source of sound, which we call nada.. When we begin to sing (nada, a note or svara), there are four different stages in our human body from where these sounds originate.
- Sound from the nabhi (the navel).
- Sound from the briday (heart).
- Sound from the kanth (throat).
- Sound created from the mouth and the upper portion of head, without opening the mouth, to pronounce 'Om' (like Om-Kara dhwani), generates from the region of the nose, forehead and brain.
Indian music, as widely known, is basically meant to satisfy the spiritual needs, but today, in the modern context, many may not understand it as for them music is essentially for pleasure. In our philosophy, we believe that music can bring salvation and when we say this in India, people listen to us with reverence but if we were to say this in the West, we may be ridiculed.
This book is not intended as a detailed account on our music, but is meant to provide pleasure to all lovers of music as also the readers who know the basic tenets of Hindustani music. I hope my efforts at providing basic fundamental information will hopefully spark further interest in our rich classical treasure. We are proud that our music has spirit, soul, life and so much power that it can, not only invoke rain or fire, but also arouse emotions with its positive impact. It brigs peace, harmony and has no religion, no barrier. It is the only binding force today in a world where realisation of Truth has failed as never before. Our music is unique for various reasons and these include tala (beats), application of notes, theory of rasa, role of a particular note in a scale, having different texture and time of a performances, application of deflation and ornamentation in different ways, time theory, mathematical calculations with tala and emphasis on sam (the first beat of the tala), gharana system, types of instruments and so on.
The purpose of this book is to give you some basic idea about Hindustani music, though wherever felt necessary, I have also discussed Carnatic music to some extent.
Indian music is so vast that one life is not enough to learn it and that is why I have not tried to talk about Carnatic music in detail and have confined myself mainly to North Indian classical music, popularly known as Hindustani music. The purpose is to bring the readers closer to it so that awarencess is created and more people get induced to learn it. As it is basically a 'gurumukhi vidya', it would be desirable to learn it further so as to acquire proficiency with the help of a guru, and experiences bliss and happiness.
Before I express y gratitude to all those who have helped me, I must confess that the publisher of this book and the Project Editor, Dr. Varsha Das need to be congratulated. Dr. Das, after one year following my commitment, started making life hell for me (I told her to do so), so that I would not take any more time on penning down what I had to convey.
India, home to one of the most ancient civilizations, is a unique example of cultural and geographical diversities. Dissimilar cultural practices are deeply rooted in people's daily lives even in the 21st century. Indian history is the fruit of geography, and geography the root of history. The history of several millennia has merged with phenomenal geographical variations to create the incredible India of today.
India is incredible in its landscapes, in the people who adorn her. Its rituals and traditions; sculptures and paintings; dance, music and theatre; handicrafts, fairs and festivals; monuments and manuscripts and it varied cuisine, each is a definite statement that only India can proudly pronounce.
Myriad streams and rivers have been flowing for centuries in their own special terrain, sometimes forceful, sometimes gentle. Despite all kinds of obstacles, they flow on. When these waters reach the ocean, they mingle, and become one huge ocean. Similarly, these diverse, astonishingly rich and colourful cultural currents create a harmonious hymn known as India, even as they retain their unique individual identity.
This series of Incredible India presents 10 books on different cultural aspects of the country, written by well known experts of the subject. Sitarmaestro Pandit Debu Chaudhuri has written this book on musical heritage of India. He continues to enthrall audiences around the globe. In this book he traces the history of Indian music quoting Samaveda as the earliest treatise on the subject.
At the outset the author mentions three broad areas of Indian music, namely, folk, tribal and other regional varieties of music; temple traditions connected with rituals and devotion; and lastly, the tradition of classical music. Under the last one he briefly introduces Carnatic and at length Hindustani music, both vocal and instrumental. Then he goes on the describe the ragas, the lifeline of Indian music. He explains how a particular raga at a particular time can create different ethos and appeal for listeners. The author has covered gharana, tala and all the four categories of musical instruments, i.e. string instruments, wind instruments, the instruments with membranes and instruments that are struck against each other like cymbals. Exhaustive glossary at the end is unique and enriching. The teacher in Pandit Debu Chaudhuri has decoded myths and mysteries on Indian music quite lucidly.
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