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Relevance of Embellishments in Indian Raga System (With Notations)

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Item Code: HAK745
Author: Divya Dayal
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 9789356760349
Pages: 289
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 450 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
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100% Made in India
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23 years in business
Book Description
About The Book

Traditionally the Indian raga-system is not only for entertainment purpose, but it also works as a tool to attain a particular mental state and its effects could be seen and felt in multiple ways. Embellishments are an important part in this process. In Indian classical music, these embellishments are used in different forms and in numerous ways, to project and enhance the raga and to bring out the effect of any raga to its fullest capacity.

To understand these various embellishments and their effects on compositions and răga-s, we need to understand the basics of compositions, räga-s, their basic relation and effect on each other, and then we can study how a good composition with all its characteristic embellishments and effects enhance and initiate the proper rendering of the raga. This book is a humble effort to bring out and highlight the crucial relationship of these with the Indian Raga-system.

About the Author

DR DIVYA DAYAL is a trained classical music vocalist with a PHD in music. She has over 20 years of university teaching experience in India and abroad. Music being a performing art, and as a practicing musician she always had a keen interest in uncovering, studying and researching about the minute aspects of Indian Classical music which enhance the effects of Indian music at all levels. Dr Divya has written many articles and papers related to Khyal/Thumri style of singing, voice-culture techniques, aesthetics and many more. Apart from teaching she is also a practitioner of alternative therapy and healing and also uses music as a tool to heal physical, mental, and emotional issues.


In räga rendering, both in improvisation and in compositions we, most of the time are singing or playing it as we have learned it from our Guru or teachers, without at times consciously realizing the intricacies of the craft. However, sometimes these so-called minute aspects of an art form or a raga could be an integral and crucial part of the total räga picture. This thought led me to the study of these intricate aspects of our raga-s, which, though are not acknowledged many times consciously in our learning, teaching or rendering of the raga, but which are an important, sometimes necessary part, in the basic structure of the raga.

The term Embellishment (Alankärän) is often used in relation to raga and composition in our musical system. If we look at the meaning of the word it literally means "decoration, garnishing enhancement, enrichment, adornment and beautification."

So, we can say that it is the note that embellishes the melody. In our traditional text the importance of embellishment in musical compositions is described in the famous shloka ("Shashina rahitave nisha.....geetirlankarhina sayat') which means that as night is without moon, a plant without flower or a lady without her jewels, embellishments are of the same importance to a melody.

Normally in North Indian music i.e., khyal, thumri, etc. embellishments are the intrinsic part of a musical composition or built in the composition, but their roles are often unclear, vague, not understood and their importance is undermined. Sometimes, it is interpreted in an abstract form; explanations are varied from person to person.


Divya Dayal could not have chosen a more important subject for her book than the art and craft of melodic embellishment in the classical vocal music of North India. It is after all the most intimately expressive aspect of that music, without which it would not even sound like Indian music. It is this that confers stylistic authenticity, aesthetic beauty and emotional intensity on the performance, giving us the impression that the artist is saying to us something profound and untranslatable. And yet despite its obvious importance, it is a subject that few have written about. True. from the earliest sangita sastras onwards, the topics of alamkara and gamaka have been analysed in terms of their description and classification. But it is difficult to go beyond classification in order to discuss the application, function and aesthetic effects of embellishment, in the contexts of performance and musical culture more generally. In fact, it is difficult to talk or write about such subtle aspects of music at all.

So, Divya Dayal should be commended for tackling this essential but challenging task, from her perspective as a performing artist. She has addressed "these minute and intricate aspects" of the performance of raga from both technical and aesthetic angles, showing how these perspectives can be brought together. Thus, she recognises both those embellishments that are essential to the individuality of a particular raga, and those that she calls "aesthetic enhancers", which are more generally applicable.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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