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An Introduction to Music and Musicology

An Introduction to Music and Musicology
Item Code: NAM113
Author: Goutam Nag
Publisher: Rabindra Bharati University
Language: English
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 8186438726
Pages: 184
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 300 gms

Emergence of dance, music and the like as forms of social performance and systematic studies as disciplines of learning may well be regarded among the finest achievements of human mind. The Upanisad called them by the name Devajanavidya which come to be known as Gandharva-Vidya in course of time. Imitation of nature and reaction to surrounding phenomena gave rise aesthetic expression in physical movement, vocal articulation or so from the very early days of human existence on earth. Gradually instruments were conceived with available resources to help in and accompany with physical rendering. Human body also come to be described at times as Sariri Bina, the bodily lyre. Tradition of performing art is very old both the East and the West. Advent of dawn is thus construed in the veda as appearance of a dancing girl. Invocation to deities by chanting saman in melody is equally an old vedic practice. In Bharata’s Natyasatra we come across a reference to Tandu, a dancing maestro who taught the art of dance performance to nymphs for the sake of dramatic enactment, Theoretical deliberations on such performing arts have been encoded in India in a vast literature comprising Natyasastra, Abhinayadarpana, Naradiyasiksa, Srihastamuktavali, to name of a few. Bengal’s contribution to the development of performance and theorization relating to these arts is remarkable indeed. And this living tradition found great protagonists here in Gosvamins of the Gaudiya Vaisnava order including kavikarnapura, in the mediaeval era, and musicologists of the past two centuries viz. Saurindra Mohan Thakur, who authored Gandharva-Kalapa-vyakarnan in late nineteenth century, Rabindranath Thakur, Gopeswar Bandyopadhyay, Swami Prajnanananda and the like. It is a glory to inherit this sacred learning given to us by our illustrious forefathers and it is our bounden duty to carry their message forward to coming generations. A cultural University dedicated to learning and study of various forms of performing arts has a significant role to play in this respect.

I am happy to learn that the Department of Musicology of Rabindra Bharati University in going to publish a book of essays on music and musicology authored by renowned experts in the field. Such collections are sure to go a long way to enriching our young talents in music appreciation, study and research in the relevant arena. I congratulate the editor on his untiring effort and Zeal in bringing out this volume and extend my gratitude to the learned contributors for their kind help and active collaboration. May all such efforts be crowned with success.


To learn music it is important to know its theoretical aspects.

Because without knowing the abc of music no one can perform properly. Music can be explained in two ways. One is the theoretical side and another is its performing and functional nature. It is obvious that theoretical portion of music helps one to know its grammer as well as the system by which it can be demonstrated well. So for performer it is very much important to know all this. Music as a phenomenon, includes words and movements. “To this it can be said that practice is only an active or applied form of Theory and practice is always preceded by Theory in music, a historical outlook is necessary to help the artists and lovers of music to get a clear vision of the entire field of music of all ages. It does not only furnish us with all the raw meterials of music of our own, but well equips us with the knowledge of music of other countries also..... Indian music is divided into two main categories, Theory and practice-sastra and sadhana. The one is suggestive and directive and the other is applied and practical. The one is the way and the other is the end or highest ideal. The Theory or Theoretical portion of music is divided into some different phases and they are: grammer (Vykarana), acoustics (Sabda vijnana), literature (Sahitya), history (itihasa), iconography (murititatva), psychology (monovijnana) and philosophy (darsana). All the phases constitute the entirety of theory. So by this theory of music, we can not mean only the grammer or grammatical portion of music, as it is generally understood by some scholars. The grammer of music deals with the questions of sonat (amsavadi), assonant (samavadi), dissonant (anuvadi), assonant (samavadi), dissonant (anuvadi), the upward and downward movements of the notes (arohona and avorohana), Varna, murchhana, time factor (Kala) etc. of the ragas. The acoustics belong to the science of physics which deals with the phenomena of sound. They determine the distinction between noise and tone, non-periodic and periodic vibrations and their sensations etc. They deal with the scientific method of the construction of the musical instruments, the frequencies and ratios of the wire-lengths, situation of the frets etc. The literature of music deals with nature and beauty of the musical compositions, their metres, rimes, graces etc. The history of music deals with the work of collecting the chronological data of music, their origin, developments and manifestations in different countries and among different nations, variations, adjustments and re-adjustments to the taste and temperament of the peoples of different times and geographical regions. The historical aspect of music really supplies us with a comprehensive idea of music and helps men to get the full vision of musical developments down the ages. The iconography of music deals with the icons or visual forms of the notes and the ragas, with their corresponding emotional sentiments and moods. It helps us to get knowledge of both the subjective and objective designs and values of music. The psychology of music deals with the psyche or soul of music. It furnishes us with the knowledge that every outward manifestation of music is caused by the mind or will-power, which is the real creator of music. So our attention should be concentrated on the creator first and then to the mover of the mind, the prime mover or higher intelligence. The philosophy of music deals with the real knowledge and essence of music. It imparts to men a faculty of judgement and intuitive knowledge that make them analyse and understand music as the means to an end. Therefore, by the theory of music, we must not only of the grammer of music, but also understand that the world conveys all the phases of grammer, science, literature, history, iconography, psychology and philosophy. By practice of these phases of the theory or sastra, men may attain excellence in music,” (Swami Prajanananda, Historical Development of Indian Music).

Though there may be some controversies regarding the study of musical theory, if we discuss with an open mind it can be understood easily the necessity of knowing theory. Now the question may be raised that what is theory and how does it help us to learn music properly. As per the dictionary-theory means an explanation or system of anything or an exposition of the abstract principles of a science or art, speculation as opposed to practice etc. So analytical views may be considered in this regard that all sorts of musical explanation can be called theoretical interpretation. For that reason theory of music has a great role for learning music. Specially it can be said also that any musical theory having logic is called science of music that is ‘musicology’.

If any one goes to find out the musical sources he will have to put his eyes on the pages of musical books and research works. Otherwise he will not be able to the sources of that as he requires. So in this perspective, importance of knowing musicology can be judged.

Again any one can raise a question “what is musicology”. Then let us have a thorough look on it. As per the encyclopedia the word musicology means (i) Scholarly study of music and (ii) The scientific research in music. It has wider range of possibility to know the theoretical aspects of music. Actually “musicology is a study of music as a branch of knowledge in the field of research specially in the historical and theoretical investigation-cum-analysis of specific types of music. It help us to know the rudimentary elements of music since its inception downwards to the present. Types of music are specified with respect to lands and time. Music keeps pace with cultural dynamism giving to its variegated forms at different times, some of which retain their characters unchanged and some are metamorphose, other such species died in obscurity putting no mark on the slate of memory. Recordable forms, their indigenous character and probable contents deem preservation and a scholarly venture starts for the benefit of posterity. Musicological texts are thus compiled on the basis of territorial information and penetrative exploration into the antique sources. He who records the musical know- how in black and white is a Musicologist. He may or may not be musical performer but must be a knowledgable musicoanalyst. A perfect musicologist must primarily be a musician while a musician must start his career with a musicologist. The responsibilities of a musician and a musicologist differ in respect of their public contact and status.” (Dr. M.S. Chakraborty-Indian Musicology).


2The Art of Music1
3Study on Indian Musicology: a proposal9
4Shastriya Sangeet: An Outline17
5Indian Classical Music and Rabindra Sangit21
6The Role and Function of Music in the Theatre
7The emergence of Indian musical tradition as embodied in the Natyasastra of Bharata40
8Musical Accompaniment in Classical Dance44
9Science, Music and Acoustics57
10Palestrina's Style In Sacred and Secular Music67
11Thumir: A Creation of Folklives91
12Some Notes on Santali Music100
13Meaning, Interpretation & Evaluation of Some Principal Fundamental Terms of Shastriya Sangit
(Indian Classical Music) Terms as Prevalent Ztoday108
14Music as A Contextual Component of A Museum/Archive126
15Contemporary Music: Some Observations142
16European Instruments Invading Indian Music148
17Effect of Music on Human Psyche: Plea for Music Therapy158

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