India Music

Sound (Nada) is believed to be the heart of the Process of Creation. In Hinduism the sacred syllable OM embodies the essence of the Universe. It is the hum of the atoms, the music of the spheres,that the Greek Pytagoras described in the 6th century B.C .Sound in general represents the primal energy that holds the material world together. Nada Brahma is a primal world in Indian Spiritually, also referring to Indian great Classical Music. Since most ancient times, music in India has been practiced as a spiritual science and art, a means to enlightenment. Sangita (which originally meant drama, music and dance) was closely associated with religious and philosophy. The recital and chant of Mantras has been an essential element ritual throughout the centuries. According to Indian Philosophy, the ultimate goal of Human existence is Moksha: liberation of the Atman from the Life Cycle, or Spiritual Enlightenment. Nadopasana, the worship of Sound, is taught as an important mean for teaching the goal. To us,music can be a Spiritual discipline on the Path to a Self-Realization,for we follow the traditional teaching that sound is God. By this process individual conciousnes s can b e elevated to a realm of awareness where the revelation of the true meaning of the Universe-its Eternal and unchanging essence ?can be joyfully experienced.Our Ragas are the vehicles by wich this essence can be perceived.The ancient Vedic scriptures teach that there are two types of sound.One is a vibration of ether ,the upper or pure air near the celestral realm.This sound is called?Anahata Nad?,sought after by great enlightened Yogis ,it can only heard by them.The other sound?Ahata Nad? ,is the vibration of air in the lower atmosphere closer to the earth.It is any sound that we hear in nature or man-made sounds,musical and no-musical. The highest musical experience is Ananda and the Divine Bliss. The devotional approach is a significant feature of Indian Culture. Sangita had been trough different strata of evolution: primitive, prehistoric, Vedic, classical, mediaeval and modern. It has traveled from temples and courts to modern festivals and concert halls, imbibing the spirit of Indian Culture and retaining a clearly recognizable continuity of tradition. The origin of Indian Musicians enshrined in beautiful tales and legends of the Indus Valley Civilization. Hindus attribute the beginning of learning to a Divine Origin through the agency of a Rishi. Shiva, also called Nataraja, is a Creator of Sangita, symbolizing the rhythmic through his mystic dance. He transmitted the knowledge of Cosmic Dance to the Rishi Bharata becoming the first teacher of music to men, and even to the Apsaras, the heavenly dancers. Similarly, the Rishi Narada, who is depicted as endlessly moving about the Universe playing on his Veena (Lute) and singing, is believed to be another primeval teacher of music. Among the inhabitants of Indras Heaven we find several bands of musicians. The Gandharvas are the singers; the Apsaras are the Dancers and the Kimaras, performers on musical instruments. The ancient Hindus knew, under the name of Gandharva Veda, a general theory of sound with his metaphysics and physics, having survived till modern times. It describes the properties of sound, not only its different musical forms and systems but its physical, medicinal, and magical as well. A number of eminent Brahmins were entrusted with the task of recovering or re-writing the fundamental treasures of the traditional science. So they followed the ancient systems, which starts from a metaphysical theory whose principles are common to all aspects of the Universe, but they applied it on a particular domain. This way, the theory of music was reconstructed. The Hindus first developed the science of music from the chanting of the Vedic Hymns. The Sama Veda was specially meant for music, and the Sacalas with 7 notes and three octaves was known in India before the Greeks had it. Strabo, the Greek historian wrote: 'Some Greeks attribute to India the invention of nearly all the science of music.' Whilst no title of any Sanskrit work on music translated at Baghdad is available, there is no doubt that Indian music influenced Arabic music. Many technical terms for Arabic music were borrowed from Persia and India. In return, incorporating Persia-Arabs airs such as Yemen and Hiji from Hijaz influenced Indian music. Indian contact with Western Asia had been close and constant since the beginning. It would appear that the Maqqam Iqa is the version of the Indian melody rhythmic system, Traga Tala, which had existed for more than thousands, years before the Maqqam Iqa was known. Regular systems of notation had been worked out before the age of Panini and their initial letters designed the seven notes. The seven notes are placed under the protection of the seven Devatas or Divinities. Hindus divide the octave into twenty-two intervals called Sruti by allocating four Sruti to represent the interval. The Sruti or microtonal interval is a division of the semitone, but not necessarily an equal division. The Indian music is traditionally based on the three Grammas or ancient scales (the first reference of these was found in the Mahabaratha).Thus, the notation passed from Brahmins trough the Persians(the Hindus scala ?SA-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-nee- has been borrowed by the persians where we find it in the form of-Do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si-)to Arabic nomadic tribes such as the Gypsies. At the beginning of the Century, it was introduced by Guido Darezzo in Europe in the form of 'Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si'. Respect to the Gypsies, Verovici believes the first exodus of the Gypsies from India happened at the time of Alexander invasion. Gypsies were expert lute players and Firdusi and the Arab historian, Hamza, suggested that it was probably this people who introduced the lute into Europe. Gypsy folk dance has influenced western dance styles like the waltz and the foxtrot, the American break dance and others dances associated with Jazz music. The Gypsies folk, free flowing and carefree dance is a modified version of the folk dance of many Adivasi and nomadic tribes of community in India. The Arabic music is the direct descendant of the ancient Turkish music. Avicena, Al-Farabi, Safiuddin and others created the old Turkish system, well known by medieval Hindu students who often mention it, under the name of Turushka, as a system closely allied to Hindu music. There are no modal forms in Arabic music not known to the Hindus. The Gregorian mode in western music introduced by the Pope Gregory the Great is of Indian inspiration, which he got when he was ambassador in Constantinople. And is interesting to know that Richard Wagner was in debt to the Hindu music especially for his principal idea of the 'Leading motive'. He became familiar with eastern music through Latin translation, passing on this experience with A. Schopennahuer.
Musical Authorities in Indian Tradition
The Sanskrit authors on music can be divided into four main periods. The first is mentioned in the Puranas and in the Epics and the second (Buddhist period) in the early mediaeval works. The third period is between the early mediaeval Hindu Revival and the Muslim Invasion and the last or modern period is situated under the Muslim and European rule. Bharata, Narada, Ishwara and Parana were among the great Hindu musicians of Ancient India, causing intensive developments in the Indian Classical Music. The first North Indian Musicians who lived at the end of the 12th Century were Jayadeva ,he wrote and sang?the Gita Govinda?,a series of songs descriptive of the love of Krishna,and the Bhakti movement ; and other of the greatest Ancient Indian musical authorities who still inspires reverence in the circle of Indian Musicians: Sarangadeva (1210-1247).His work ,?The Sangita Ratnakara?shows many signs of contact with the music of the south.It is possible that he was endeavoring to give the common theory wich underlies both systems. The 14th and 15th centuries are the most important in the development of the Northern School, at the same time as the Mohammed Conquest. Many of the Emperors did a great deal to extend the practice of music of the earlier Hindu Rajahs; most of them having musician attached to their courts. Amir Khusrow (1234-1325), Chisti Sufi poet, historian, musician, soldier and statesman, an 'Hindu Turk' as he called himself, was passionately involved with Indian music. He invent numerous musical forms like 'Sufi devotional music Qawwali and new genres like Tarana,Khayal,Naqsh and Qalbana' and also melodies, Raga Yaman and Raga Basant Mukhari. Is also credited for creating rhythmic cycles such as 'Asool-e-fakhta and Farodast'.He w as an i con, representing the growing Persian influence on the music. This influence was more felt in the North than in the South. The consequences of this differing degree of influence ultimately resulted in the bifurcation of Indian music into two distinct systems, the Hindustani Sangeet of the North and the Carnatic Sangeet of the South. Chaitanya (1485-1533) promoted the development of the Bhakti revival in Northern India and Bengal with a large musical activity. It was at this time that the popular musical performances known as Sarkirstan and Nagakirstan were first started. Swammi Haridas was a great Saint and musician who lived in Vrindaban, in the reign of Akbar. Tulsidas (1584) was the singer and composer of the Hindi Ramayana. Miraban, was also a famous poetess and musician. Tan Sen(Ram Rattan 1520-1589), was born in Behat near Gwalior in a Brahmin family,but them ,converse to Islam when he knows the Saint Sufi and singer Mohammad Ghaus of Gwalior and go to live with him ,he was his first Master.Later he moved to Vrindaban and learned under Swammi Haridas by four years,and was named like a celebrated singer of the Akbar Court.Stories and legends about Tansen musical powers abound,including the one with said how he was able to create rain by singing Rag Megh orlight a lamp singi ng Rag Deepak He created and consolidated compositions and Ragas, which are well known today: Darbari Kamhra, Darbari Todi and Meg Malhar. He laid down the foundation of Dhrupad music style. Tansen and their disciples form an unbroken musical line lasting 400 years called the 'Seni Gharana'. This line form the backbone Indian classical music, being most of the important musicians of Northern India connected to it. Sitarians Firuz Khan and grand son Masit Khan, descendants of Tansen from Saraswati line, introduced many innovations into the art of Sitar. The Firoz Khan Gat and Mastkani Gat, structures used in today's music, are their creations. Niyamet Khan and Firuz Khan, under the name of Sadarang and Adorang, created many lively compositions and beautiful melodies. Thus was born the new vocal music style known as Khyal. Firuz Khan incorporated into his Sitar playing both the Benkar and Dhrupad styles, as well as the new Khyal style with its fast tans and rhythmic. With his son, Masit Khan, he further developed the classical art of Sitar by retaining the purity of the Ragas melody structure. The most important sitarian of the 19th century was Amritsen (1814-1893). Another important sitarist of the period was Ghulan Raza. In the late 19th century, Indad Khan was one of the highly regarded and innovator players of Calcutta. His Son Inayat Khan continued the tradition and today his line continues with the great sitarian Ustaad Vilayat Khan. The greatest contribution of Bengal to classical music is undoubtedly Ustaad Allaudhin Khan, whose personality dominated the instrumental musical scene of North India in the first half of the 20th century. His musical education accrued in the Seni Gharana. During the latter half of the 20th century, his most distinguished disciple was Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (Sarod), both gave concerts in almost all the countries of the world. Their teaching produced generations of excellent performers, among whom Pandit Shalil Shankar is one of the rising sitarian of the Beenkar Gharana (the school of Veena Players).
Raga and Tala
There are four essentials elements to the nature of classical Indian Music,and these are common to both North and South India. They are:Raga,Rasa,Bhava,Tala.
The heart of Indian music is the Raga, the melodic form improvised by the musician.We defines a Raga as 'a work of art in wich the tune,the song,the picture,the colors,the seasons,the hour and the virtues are so blended together as to produce a composite production to wich the west can furnish no paralell'. This framework is established by tradition and inspired by the creative spirits of Masters musicians. The ancient Sanskrit sages gave the following definition: 'Ranyati iti Ragah' (the spirit is a Raga). In terms of esthetics, a Raga is a projection of the artist inner spirit, a manifestation of his most profound sentiments and sensibilities brought forth through toner and melodies. The musician must breathe life into e ach Rag a as he unfolds and expands it. As much as 90 percent of Indian music may be improvised making so very such depends on understanding the spirit and nuances of the art,the relationship between the artist and his guru is the keystone of this ancient tradition.From the beginning ,the aspiring musician requires special attention to bring him the moment of artistic mastery.The unique ?Aura? of a Raga(the soul) is itsspiritual quality and maner of expression,and this cannot be learned from any book.Its only after many long and extensive years of ?Sadhana?(pactice and discipline)under the guidance of ones Guru and his blessing,that the artist is empowered to put?Prana?(the breath of life)into a Raga.This is accomplished by employing the secrets imparted by ones teacher such asthe use of ?Shrutis?(microtones other than 22 semitones in a octave,indian music using amaller intervalls than western music:22 within an octave)?The Gamakas?(special varietes ofglissando wichconnect on e note to the o ther),and ?Andolan?(a sway not a vibrato).The results is that each note pulsates with life and the Raga becomes vibrant and incandecent. In the two systems Indian Music, the Hindustani and Karnatak , the pitches are represented by sargam syllables: sa-re-ga-ma-pa-da-ni-sa. It is the subtle difference in the order of notes, the omission of a dissonant note, the emphasis on a particular note, the slide from one note to another, and the uses of microtones as well as other subtleties, what demarcates one Raga from another. A Raga include several procedures related to how these notes are played: the classification (Jati of the Raga), the determination of the main pitches (Vadi and Samvadi), the aroha (ascent) and the avaroha (descent) of the scale, and the typical ornaments and melodic formula that give special character to the Raga, related in part to the pitch and tempo at which the Raga is played. Therefore, a Raga is more than just the notes; it includes the scale and rules governing how the notes are played.
In music, the artist communicates the state and workings of her mind and emotions through the tones (Raga) which out outward manifestations of her psychological states (Rasa). In the performances, the performer added his rendering of the notation: the Bhava or expression. The ideal performer is the person who succeeds in bestowing upon the composition a personal and original Bhava within the regulated framework of the Raga (Anupam Mahajan).
A Tala is the rhythmic cycle of a Raga (nevertheless, Tala is not subsumed under Raga, rather, it is its equal counterpart). The drum player is entrusted with the meticulous task of maintaining the Tala. In a recital, a tabliest accompanies a vocalist in either a slow, medium or fast tempo in the Tala choiced by the soloists.He wikll do the same when he accompanies a instrumentalist in the Gat section of a composition. The division in a Tala and the stress on the first beat (called Same) are the more important rhythmic factors. While there are Talas having the same number of beats, they differ because the division and accents are not the same. For instance, there is a Tala known as 'Dhamar' which has 14 beats in the c ycle di vided 5+5+4, another Tala, 'Ada Chautal' has the same number of beats, but is divided 3+4+3+4. Karnatak examples are 'Misra Capu' which has 7 beats and is asymmetrically structured, also the 'Kanda Capu' with 5 beats. Some of the older Talas, associated with Dhrupa, are Chautal and Dhamar, played on a two-faced drum known as Pakhawaj. Today, most vocal and instrumental music is based on the contemporary Khyal form and is therefore accompanied by the two pieces Tabla drums. The traditional recital begins with the Alap section: the stately and serene exploration of the chosen Raga. After this slow, introspective, heartfelt, sometimes sad beginning, the musician moves on to the Jor. In this part, rhythm enters and is developed, together with innumerable variations on the Raga's basics theme- but there is no drum accompaniment in either the Alap or the Jor. These first two parts evolve into the Gat, the fixed composition of the Raga. The drums enter with the rhythmic structure of the Gat and its time cycle, the Tala. From this moment on, the Gat becomes the vehicle for the musicians to return to after his improvisation. The step by step acceleration of the rhythm in the Gat finally culminates in the Jhala pa rt, as it becomes more playful and exiting. The dazzling and rapid dialogue between the sitar and the Tabla has the power to enthrall even the most uninitiated listener with its thrilling interplay. At the conclusion of the recital, the musician may choose to play a 'Thumri' or a 'Dhun'.This semiclassical style is much freer and completely romantic,sensual and erotic.
The performing arts in India,music,dance,drama and poetry,are based on the concept of the Nava Rasa,or nine sentiments.Literally,Rasa means juice,but in a musical context,it refers to the mood or sentiments created by a Raga.the order of these Rasas is as follows:Shringara,romantic and erotic-Hasya, humorous-Karuna, pathetic-Raudra, anger-Veera, heroic-Bhayanaka, fearful-Vibhatsa, disgutful-Adbhuta, amazement-Shanta, peaceful. Each Raga is principally dominated by one of these nine Rasas,although the performers can also bring out other emotions in a less prominent way.The more closely the notes of a Raga conform to the expression of one single idea or emotion,the more overwhelming the effect of the Raga.The particular time of day,as well,as esoteric philosophical and effective concepts are associated with each Raga.
Raga and Jazz
The Raga is the core of the Indian Classical Music,each Raga exist from the beginning,its a musical archetype.Two basic traits are characteristics of music in India. In all its various forms, its basics concept is vocal. Indian Music is modal music in the truth sense.,its knows no change of keys ,that is,it sticks to one, steady,unvaryng ground tone.Very important to Indian music are embellishments, tones, intervals that do not exist in well-tempered western music,a music created from this vantage point.....can find its musical expression only in improvisation.Although Indian musicians know the principles of harmony, they chose to develop their systems along the lines of melody, a dimensional, horizontal music, which lends to m editati ve individual expression.Jazz is also modal and its does not limit itself to the tones of Western tuning.In theory Indian octaves consist of 66 microtones,but in practice there are 22 tones per octave,wich is nearly twicw the number found in the Western octave.In many free styles jazz improvisation,one can also find the use of this many tones. Here we find a similarity to Jazz which gives a license for long solo improvisations.But Ravi Shankar said 'The freedom within the bounds of artistic discipline comes only after many years of training and Sadhana(Espiritual discipline).This is why one cannot rightfully compare the improvisation in Indian music with the improvisation of Jazz.' .The rhythmic possibilities of Indian music have been attractive to Jazz musicians .Jazz and fusion guitarist Larry Coryell was completely right when he said,'I hear a lot of blues in Indian Music'.Don Ellis said that ,'Jazz musicians who desires to really acquire a grasp of rhythm should,, if at all possible, study Indian music'. John Coltrane is perhaps the best example of how Indian spiritual vibration affected Jazz musicians. Coltrane life was deeply moved by Indian spiritual from those with whom he played. His albums 'India', 'Meditation', 'A love Supreme and Om' are examples of its influence on his music. Coltrane's musical development was driven forward, supplemented, enlarged and enriched by his interactions with this spirituality. John McLaughlin, asked by the beginning of his musical interest in India, first speaks of spiritual things and then of musical matters: 'I opened myself to Indian music, because I felt a tie with Indian Culture'. Well-known musicians and practitioners in aspects of Hinduism have included Alice Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Oregon, Phillip Glass, Miles Davis, Andre Previn, Peter Gabriel, George Harrison, Jehudi Menuhin, Oliver Messiaen.
Music of India
Indian classical music is based on traditional structures of Raga and Tala.
Raga: Ragas are scientific, precise, subtitle and aesthetic melodic forms. Based on 72 parent scales or That, there are hundreds of Ragas, each having its own ascending and descending movements with little subtleties that demarcate it from other Ragas. Each Raga is associated with a particular phase of the day or night and season and depicts a specific sentiment.
Tala: Tala is the element of time and rythm, having the number of beats in the cycle with bars, giving stress on the first beat or Sum.
Systems: There are two different systems of music in India: The 'Hindustani' of the North and 'Karnatak' of the South. Though the background and basis are the same, they differ in the presentation. Shalil Shankar belongs to the 'Hindustani' system of the 'Beenkar Gharana' (the school of Veena players).
'The Music of India' by Herbert Popley
'India and World Civilization' by D.P.Singhal
'Ancient Wisdom for Modern ignorance'by Swammi B.V.Tripurari
'The Musical Heritage of India'by R.M.Gautam
'North Indian Music'by Alain Danielou
'Hindu Music'by S.M.Tagore
'Nada Brahma'by Joachim-Ernest Berendt
'The Music of India'by Peggy Holroid
"My Music, My Life" by Ravi Shankar
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