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07:700:131 Study Guide - Final Guide: Hindustani Classical Music, Tanpura, Sitar

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Lynette Bowring
Study Guide

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Module 14: Music of Indonesia and India
5. Instruments of Hindustani music and their timbres (sitar, tanpura, tabla)
The most recognizable instrument of the Hindustani tradition is the sitar which is a long-
necked lute, with several rings that are plucked melodically, strings that always sounds at the same pitch to
form drones and more strings that arent plucked directly by the player, but vibrate when other strings are
being plucked to create a shimmering backdrop to the timbre
A pair of small drums called the tabla provide a rhythmic backdrop for performances
The sitar is also supplemented by another instrument that just provides a drone, called a
tanpura which is another long-necked lute, with four strings that are tuned according to the most important
pitches of the piece and plucked constantly for a soft, buzzing timbre
6. Raga and the structure of Hindustani improvisation
Although Hindustani instrumental music is entirely improvised, it is highly organized and
structured. Each improvisation is created on a huge scale, often lasting between 30 minutes and 4 hours.
The melodic material of the improvisation is based entirely on a raga, which is similar to a scale in that it
lays out what pitches will be used in the improvisation
7. Carnatic song, composition, and ornamentation
The Carnatic music of the south uses many of the same instruments and musical features,
but its overall effect; the majority of Carnatic music is tied to the Hindu religion; Vocal music with
instrumental accompaniment is much more prominent, and the songs set religious texts to music
Carnatic music tends to be composed rather than improvised, although singers will add
ornamentation to a composition in performance. The tradition of Carnatic composition is long, with
composers from the 18th and 19th century still being performed today
Module 15: The postmodern world
1. Recent trends towards globalization, and their effect on the musical world
Growing interconnectivity across the world has enabled access to a vast array of different
cultures, making music and the other arts part of the process of globalization (before a single person would
have access to only a tiny fraction of music); Easy availability of music
2. Concept of postmodernism and how this has manifested in some recent music
Postmodernism recognizes that each individual has a different experience of the world and
that all experiences are therefore subjective (looking at music through a personal way). Some postmodern
music is crossover, a straightforward combining of two musical traditions that often serves largely
commercial purposes, there are many other performances and compositions that use postmodernism to
interesting artistic effect
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