Chapter 6
Indian Music: South India
(& some North?)
Brief History
2500-1700 BCE—Indus Valley cities
3rd century BCE—countless kingdoms
and emperors such as the Buddhist
Asoka
c. 1400-1800 CE—Moguls
c. 1600-1947 CE—three centuries of
British colonialism
Hinduism
“the dominant religion of India.”
Caste: “one of the hereditary social
classes in Hinduism that restrict the
occupation of their members and their
association with the members of other
castes.”
Islam
Moslems
“belief in Allah as the sole deity and in
Muhammad as his prophet.”
About 10%
Palimpsest
“a manuscript parchment written on again
and again in which everything written before
is never fully erased. Everything written
before is somehow still there, visible and
readable . . .”
Similarly in Indian culture old traditions persist
and “coexist with the new and innovative . . .”
(compare with China and Japan)
History, Culture, Politics
one billion people—a fifth of the world’s
population
an area one-third the size of the United
States
Fifteen major languages
More than Five Thousand years of
history
Regions
Hindustani -- North
Moslem concentration
Hindus Valley
Carnatic -- South
Hindu concentration
Carnatic Plains
The Taj Mahal
English Influence
railways
democratic systems of government
bureaucracy
universities
European musical instruments
European musical instruments
“While Indians adapted
European musical
instruments to their
musical styles, they did
not adopt European
musical styles.”
violin
clarinet
piano
saxophone
Guitar
Mandolin
Traditional literature
two Sanskrit epics between 400 B.C.E.
and 400 C.E.”
Ramayana
Mahabharata
In Carnatic music many song texts refer
to events in these epics.
Important religious works
The four Vedas
Upanishads
Puranas
Music of India
Pop music
Devotional song
Classical music
Cine Music
Indian popular music
A blend of East and West
Sometimes reminiscent of early rock
and roll
“Anything goes”
“Engal Kalyanam (CD II:20)
Hindustani and Carnatic Music
Similarities
ragas
talas
Differences
The Hindustani north -- expansive
improvisations
Carnatic south -- pre-composed devotional
songs
Raga
“that which colors the mind and the
heart”
a collection of notes, a scale, intonation,
ornaments, pillar tones
a precise melody form
sa ri ga ma pa da ni (sa)
Tala
regularly recurring metric cycles
consisting of groups of beats.
Beat groupings are usually uneven
(i.e., 3+2+2; 4+3; 1+2)
veena
plucked string
instrument with
seven strings
three drone strings
and four playing
strings (for playing
melodies).
Mridangam
double-headed, barrel-shaped drum.
Sruti-box and tambura
The Carnatic texture
Melody Layer
vocalist(s)/instrumentalist (veena)
Drone Layer
sustained (continuously sounding) central tone
tambura or sruti box
Rhythm Layer (percussion)
mridangam—multi-timbral, double-headed
tala
bhajan
devotional song
sung by a soloist with accompanying
instruments
or by a vocal group in a call-and–response
manner
“Devi Niye Tunai” (CD II:21)
Tala accents p. 255
chinna melan
“small band,” an ensemble of two or
more
A chinna melam is likely to be
performed at any auspicious occasion,
for example, at temple worship,
weddings, the opening a new store, and
so on.
Chinna Melam instruments
nagasvaram doublereed pipes,
tavil drums and
sruti-box drone
Karnataka Sangeeta
Classical Music of South India
in English simply Carnatic music.
It is named after the Carnatic plateau
Transmission
oral tradition passed down by memory. The
music is to nudge the memory.
no definitive version of the music exists.
musical renditions may become highly
variable
CD III:1 “Sarasiruha” (“To the
Goddess Saraswati”)
Kriti in Natai raga
and Adi tala.
Performed by veena
and mridangam.
Sarasiruha
0:00-3:15 Alapana
 “free-flowing exposition and exploration of
the raga
absence of meter
drone sustains tonal center and the tone a fifth
above tonal center
3:20-8:15 Tanam
“strong sense of beat.”
improvised melody continues
Sarasiruha
8:25-15:45 Kriti “Sarasiruha”
“centerpiece” of the performance
Pallavi: “O Mother who loves the lotus seat,”
Anupallavi: “Save me who have taken refuge in
you!”
Charanam: “Complete Being, who holds a book
in her hand which bestows all dominion.”
Sarasiruha
15:45-18:05 Kalpana Svaras
mridangam continues to accompany
melody played on the veena
18:06-22:20 The Drum Solo: Tani
Avartanam
A long and complex improvised drum solo played
on the mridangam accompanied only by the drone
being played on the drone strings of the veena
22:04
North India
Tabla = drum
Sitar = descendent of veena
Tabla
Zakir Hussain, master tabla player
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Ravi Shankar
virtuoso sitar player
1960s concerts
brought him
superstar status in
Europe, the United
States and India.
Indian Influences
The Beatles
Minimalism (Philip
Glass et al)
Pieces of East
David Amram Ballet
(Chakra)
Chakra, David Amram
Jhaptal Tala (2+3+2+3)
1
X
2
3
4
X
X
5
6
X
7
8
9
X
X
10
Combined Result
(Raga transposed to G in
Oboe Part)
Pieces of East
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Chapter 6