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Jairazbhoy, N. A. (1971) The rags of North Indian music: Their structure and evolution. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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There is a remarkable uniformity in the performance of classical music in North India, an area comprising various geographical regions, which, in this context, includes Pakistan and extends southward into the Deccan. There are, of course, differences in detail-in the interpretation of various rags, in style of performance and in the types and texts of compositions-but on the whole these are only minor differences. The overall uniformity is especially remarkable in view of the fact that these regions contain a heterogeneous population-both racially and culturally-who speak a variety of languages and differ widely in their religious beliefs. North Indian classical music cuts across the usual barriers imposed by differences of language and religion, much as does classical music in the West. Nevertheless, many classical songs have religious texts, both Hindu and Muslim. But rehgious content is not an essential requisite of the music, for some songs are concerned with mundane subjects and some are even composed of meaningless syllables. Just as in Western classical music where great rehgious works written specifically for the Roman Catholic Church can be appreciated as works of art by those of all religious beliefs, so too in Indian music religious themes often serve as vehicles for artistic expression.;Classical music is not the music of the masses but is largely confined to the urban areas of North India. It is performed either in concert halls or in private homes. Its raison d'etre lies in its purely musical content and it is basically on melody and rhythm that its quality is assessed. While a study of the cultural background of the people is essential for a social and historical perspective of this music, its appreciation depends largely on comprehension of the musical idiom, and it is to this end that the present work is dedicated. It had its origin in a series of lectures given at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, to university students who had no previous knowledge of the subject. At an equivalent age level in India, students would have had several years of musical study at High Schools in both theory and practice, and this would have been supplemented by many hours of listening to both radio broadcasts and recitals. Some of the Western students had not even heard North Indian classical music until they attended the lectures at the School. Thus it was necessary to adopt a completely different approach to the subject from that which is usual in Indian universities. To the Western students Indian music was only incidental to their main course of study and therefore the amount of time which they could devote to it was severely limited. In view of this, it was necessary to concentrate on broad principles and outlines rather than on the details which are the main concern in Indian music colleges.;The critical attitude of the Western student provided a stimulus for the formulation of many of the ideas expressed in this work. With his training in and experience of Western music he has contributed new ideas and interpretations; and by his reluctance to accept traditional Indian explanations, frequently lacking coherence, he has also provoked further enquiry into many topics. The question 'why' has been uppermost in his mind. 'Why does Indian music have its present form Why are only certain scales used in Indian music' To these and other similar questions the traditional reply-'because it was performed in this way by my teacher'-has been unsatisfactory. To a large extent this work has been motivated by such questions and attempts to provide some of the answers. In this respect, it is an exploration into certain aspects of Indian music which have not hitherto received sufficient attention. It is hoped that the reader will be stimulated to further enquiry.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:28

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