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James Kippen

Performing Arts of South Asia MUS209H1 Professor James Kippen Notes for lecture on The Vocal & Instrumental Music of Northern India – I Indian subcontinent Ancient references to music References to instruments abound in ancient texts. Mahabharata: “The noise of battle rolled and rent the air. The kettledrums, trumpets, horns and conchs made the welkin ring with their clamour.” (trans. Rajagopalachari) Natya Shastra Sanskrit treatise on dramatic theory, including dance Compiled by 200 CE (or later?) by the sage Bharata Muni First extant document to incorporate chapters on music Influenced later works, and continues to be revered as the foundation stone of music in India NS – Creation of drums… “Then in this lake, torrents of water falling with the force of wind made clear sounds on the leaves of lotus.” The sage Svati heard the pleasing high, medium and low sounds, and returned to his hermitage to fashion “the Mridangas, and then the Puskaras [like] Panavas and Darduras” which he covered with cowhide and bound with strings. (NS 33: 7, 9-13) Sangita Ratnakara Lit. “The Jewel Mine of Music” – Sangita Arguably the most important and influential Sanskrit treatise on music Written by Sharngadeva around 1240 Synthesized previous learning on music Established a theory of melody (raga) and rhythm and metre (tala) Differentiated between marga (the Great Tradition of ancient classical music) and deshi (the Little Traditions of the regions, or folk) musics Islam First arrived on West coast in 7–8C Muslim invaders from northwest established Sultanates of Persianized Turkic peoples (Mongols) around Delhi from 1210 First Persian document on music, Ghunyat ul-Munya (“The songs of desire”, 1374), is based largely on Sanskrit texts but adds interesting contemporary commentaries North vs South From 13C on, the rapid spread of Muslim socio-political and cultural influence throughout the subcontinent, but not in the far south Gradual separation of performance practices in northern and southern areas Creation of two distinct theoretical and practical systems of music by 15C Split was consolidated by Mughal dynastic rule from 1526 Miyan Tansen Fl. Late 16C One of the Nauratan (“Nine Jewels”) in the court of the Emperor Akbar A Hindu who converted to Islam His music is said to have had power to control Nature Akbar’s court at Fatehpur Sikri Professional specialization Tansen’s conversion symbolizes a shift… Music as profession, not devotion Music for the court, not the temple Music for the Emperor, not God The growth of Muslim hereditary specialization, and the creation of endogamous lineages or “guilds” for the transmission of music from generation to generation Read Daniel Neuman’s “Indian Music as Cultural System” North Indian or Hindustani Music “Art” music of northern India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh Shows elements of a syncretism between indigenous musical forms and foreign elements from West and Central Asia Private court or salon music that has become public only since late 19C Music theory Three components: Drone – (no name) Melody – raga or rag Rhythm/metre – tala or tal Drone The “screen” onto which one projects the music Creates a focus for melody by establishing the root of the scalar system used Shadj – Sa – is always present The first task of the listener is to locate the Sa, and to fix it firmly in the mind Tanpura Most common drone instrument 4–5 strings Flat table bridge helps create a buzzing sound that sustains the notes Pitch – Sargam syllables The scale is conceptualized as having seven pitches (svar). This is also the case in Western music. Shadj, Rishabh, Gandhara, Madhyam, Pancham, Dhaivat, Nishad: Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sargam = SaRGaM The shuddh scale When none of the svar change from these basic positions, the scale is referred to as shuddh (pure) Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni NB – This resembles the Western major scale Acal svar – immovable notes Two svar are acal (immovable): Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni These are articulated by the tanpura: Sa Sa Pa Sa Cal svar – moveable notes The other five svar are cal (moveable) Four can be lowered – komal Ri Ga Dha Ni One scale structure includes all possible komal (soft) – sitting at a different level notes: S R G M P D N  the R, G, D, N can be made flat - w The remaining svar, Ma, can only be raised – tivra M´ Another scale structure includes the only possible tivra note: S R G M´ P D N Thath (or that) V.N. Bhatkhande (1860–1936): influential musicologist Controversial system of thath (scale type) for classification of melody in Hindustani music Widely followed today in music schools and colleges Bhatkhande’s 10 thath Bilaval (shuddh); Kalyan (M´); Bhairavi (all komal) Khamaj: S R G M P D N Kafi: S R G M P D N Asavari: S R G M P D N Bhairav: S R G M P D N Todi: S R G M´ P D N Purvi: S R G M´ P D N Marva: S R G M´ P D N Why is the thath system controversial? It is a theoretical construct that is not recognized as having much practical value Most musicians do not think of melody in terms of scales It is not comprehensive, and does not account for several melodic structures: E.g., Rag Lalit: S R G M M´ D N E.g., Rag Charukeshi: S R G M P D N Rag Melodic “mode” A collection of melodic fragments and phrases that together constitute a musical identity or “personality” Ascending (aroh) and descending (avroh) patterns are often different, and use different notes Some notes are more important than others, some are approched in a certain way or carry a particular kind of ornament Associated with moods (romantic, heroic, pathetic, contemplational, melancholic), seasons (spring, monsoon), and times of day (the eight “watches”) Rag example – Miyan ki Malhar “Miyan’s Malhar”, a version of the rainy season rag (Malhar) credited to Miyan Tansen, whose music made the rain fall Performed towards midnight, though can be any time in rainy season Mood (rasa or ras) of sadness, melancholy and compassion Characteristics of Miyan ki Malhar Fits with Kafi thath (komal Ga and komal Ni) Also uses shuddh Ni in ascending phrases Involves heavy ornamentation, oblique movements (disjunct intervals), and long, sl
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