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Three Species of South Asian Music Presented by Robert Katz, Ph.D. to the Infusing Institute of the East-West Center Honolulu, HI July 29, 2010
Music and Language • Music is the universal language of mankind — Longfellow • I consider that music is, by its very nature, powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc....If, as is nearly always the case, music appears to express something, this is only an illusion, and not a reality.... --Igor Stravinsky • Talking about music is like dancing about architecture. --Stravinsky
Significant points of Consideration • Music is a product of culture • Music is manifested in a variety of ways in a given culture – – – –
Classical vs. folk vs. popular Integrated vs. independent Oral vs. written tradition Literal vs. extemporaneous
Universals of Musical Sound Theoretical Considerations
• Pitch – Melody – Harmony – Range
• Durational Elements – –
Timbre/Tone Quality – –
Meter Rhythm Voice Instruments
Process or Formal Definition
Three Examples of South Asian Music • Hindustani Classical Music
• Qawwali • Manganiyar
Geography & History
Hindustani Classical Music • Hindustani refers to the music of N. India differentiated from Karnatak, the classical musical tradition of S. India – Blend of Hindu and Muslim cultural elements – Originates in vocal style, but is dominated by musical rather than textual expression – Earliest history dates to 5th-7th c. CE. – Extensive written commentaries
Hindustani Classical Music • Three broad historical periods – Ancient: Natysastra (4-5th c.) Bhrad-desi (8-9th c.) Sangita Ratnakara (1210-1247) – Medieval (1300-1550): Patronage of the Delhi Sultanate and Vijayanagar empire – Modern (1550-) Proliferation of writings about music
Mythical Source I shall now tell thee the different kinds of sound. They are the seven original notes called Shadja, Rishabha, Gandhara, Mahdhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata and Nishada. These are the seven kinds of the property that appertains to space. Sound inheres like the Supreme Being in all space though attached especially to drums and other instruments. Whatever sound is heard from drums small and large, and conchs, and clouds, and cars, and animate and inanimate creatures, are all included in these seven kinds of sound already enumerated. Thus sound, which is the property of space, is of various kinds. The learned have said sound to be born of space. When raised by the different kinds of touch, which is the property of the wind, it may be heard. Mahabharata, Book 12 Santi Parva, Mokshadharma Parva CLXXXIV
Raga, Raag, Rag • The word Raga literally translates as color or mood. In musical terms ragas are the structural framework for songs and improvisation. In this sense it is a combination of the Western concept of scale, key, and melody, but raga also connotes and affective character. • Notes of a raga roughly correspond to the seven pitches of a major scale: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti
Tal/Tala The rhythmic/metric organization of Hindustani music. Tala is the cyclic patterning of beats and rhythms that organize musical time. Length of patterns are organized into groupings described as binary (8 or 16), ternary (6 or 12), quintuple (10), etc., with up to 28 beats.
Basic Structure of a Raga Vocal and Instrumental types. Each has its own particular categories of compositions Vocal: Dhrupad, Kyal, Thumri Instrumental: Gat Gat is in two large sections Alap – no tala Gat – tala is present
Qawwali • Geographically centered in N. India and Pakistan • Specifically Islamic musical style associated with the mystic tradition of Sufism • Sufism and Qawwali are not universally accepted practices in all of Islam • Emphasis on group participation as opposed to solo performer; vocal rather than instrumental; text rather than tones • Zikr – “remembrance” (of God) expressed vocally through word repetition • Musically employs elements of pitch organization found in Raga • Common instruments include: Tabla, Harmonium, Sarangi, Dholak
Qawwali • Performances are held in shrines to Sufi saints in India and Pakistan • Qawwals traditionally associated themselves with Amir Khusrau, 13th c. poet and musician. Khusrau was connected to the Chisti order of Sufism • Vocal soloist leads performance but group involvement is common including responsorial chanting and hand clapping. • Religious function is to help devotees achieve ecstatic state of religious intensity and draw closer to God. • Qawwali music has been popularized through concert performances that have adapted the melodies and style for non-religious audiences
Qawwali at Shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya at Night
Manganiyar • Folk musicians found in the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India bordering on Pakistan. • The Manganiyars are a Muslim caste of professional musicians who served Hindu patrons, Rajputs and lower caste Hindus. • Manganiyars use a variety of instruments including drums • Patron-musician relationship was passed from one generation to the next • Perform at weddings and other celebrations • Musical style is believed to derive from Hindustani classical music
• Like many traditional musical styles, the Manganiyar practice is a complex of singing, instrumental accompaniment, and dance/gesture. • The film Latcho Drom (1993) is a documentary attempting to trace the history of gypsy/Romani musical culture from its supposed origins in the desert of western India through Persia, N. Africa, eastern Europe, to Spain where their musical influence is found in Flamenco song and dance.
• Modern Manganiyars may be the descendents of these early singer, dancer, entertainers from whom the Romani originated. • Contemporary Manganiyar musicians have gained a degree of popularity in the West through exuberant performances including, song, dance, colorful traditional costumery • Performances blend elements of classical, qawwali, folk, and popular song
Contemporary Realities • All three of the examples of S. Asian music presented have been adapted to suit contemporary audiences in a variety of ways. – Popular music of the 1960s borrowed aspects of the sound and philosophy of Indian culture. – Classical Hindustani and Qawwali musical styles have been appropriated for the soundtrack of Bollywood films and to suit wide, secularized audiences – Manganiyar and other Indian folk styles have found a place in the World Music genre of popular culture – Rajasthani musicians themselves have adapted a wide variety of Indian musical styles for their own World Music repertoires
Resources Bharucha, Rustom. Rajasthan, an oral history: conversations with Komal Kothari. New Delhi; New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2003. Chib, Satyendra K. Sen. Companion to North Indian classical music. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Pub., 2004. Clayton, Martin. Time in Indian music: rhythm, metre, and form in North Indian rag performance. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar. “Creativity and Responses.” Rasa: The Indian Performing Arts in the Last Twenty-five Years, vol. 1, Music and Dance. Calcutta: Thompson Press (1995). Krishna Prasad, V. K. Ragas in Indian music: a complete reference source for Carnatic ragas, Hindustani ragas, western scales, kathakali ragas, & Tamil panns with Carnatic notation, staff notation, "ABC" notation, synonyms, raga types, swara names, varjya swaras, intervals,sruthi bedhams, and piano rolls. Nagercoil: CBH Publications, 2008 Mittal, Anjali. Hindustani music and the aesthetic concept of form. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld, 2000
Resources Lath, Makund. “The Aesthetics of Music.” History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization. Vol. 25, part 3, Science, Literature, and Aesthetics. Amiya Dev, ed. Center for Studies in Civilization, 2009. Ramakrishna, Lalita. Musical heritage of India .New Delhi: Shubhi Publication, 2003. Qureshi, Regula. Sufi music of India and Pakistan: sound, context, and meaning in qawwali. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Qureshi, Regula , et al. "India." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 30 Jul. 2010 . Ruckert, George E. Music in North India: experiencing music, expressing culture New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Singh, Nivedita. Tradition of Hindustani music: a sociological approach .New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers, Distributors, 2004. Tagore, S.M. History of Hindu music, edited by. New Delhi: Sanjay Prakashan, 2006.