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The Classicality of Odishi Music

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Item Code: NAU293
Publisher: National Publishing House
Author: Dr. Kirtan Narayan Parhi
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9789388658355
Pages: 444
Other Details 9.50 X 7.50 inch
Weight 980 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

This work is an humble capitulation of the author's addoration of the great tradition of music that evolved with all its glory in Kalinga, Utkala and Udra, now called Odishi. For exaltation of Odishi music to a classical status, the author undertakes a deep study and presents the exhausive treatment of the development of various aspects in succession methodically in the nature of a chronicle vis-a-vis Hindustani and Camatic music.

The book deals with historical, theoretical and practical facets of Odishi music in detail with the structural and laudatory analysis supported by corroborative evidence from the inscriptional, sculptural, textual, oral and other sources.

This book is not only an addition to the available literature in the subject, but also a solid testimonial for the classical identity of Odishi music.

About the Author

A voluntarily retired senior officer of the State Bank of India, a post-graduate in vocal music from Prayag Sangit Samiti, Allahabad, an approved singer and lyricist of All India Radio, a learned and dedicated researcher in the field of music and language, Dr. Kirtan Narayan Parhi is a musicologist of repute and venerated for his commendable publications.

He is a recognised Research Supervisor in the discipline of Performing Arts of Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar for guiding Doctoral and Post-Doctoral research scholars. The Founder Chairman of Institute of Indian Music, Bhubaneswar, Dr. Parhi was a member of the committee constituted by Government of Odisha to prepare report on classicality of Odia language.

He is at present working as a member of the Core Committee and Drafting Committe formed by the Govt. of Odisha to establish the classicality of Odishi music.


Music is an art and a science. Science teaches us to know and art teaches us to do things. At the ordinary level, that is, ground level, some people are born with a voice to sing that creates appealing melodious effect on the listeners. With practice, this quality gets improved and they are recognised as good and gifted singers. But how their performance of singing is characterised as good is something, which needs to be investigated and described systematically. Technical concepts have to be evolved to define and classify, regularities to be discovered and generalised in the form of principles and codes for uniform and standardised rendition. Without standardisation, the production may or may not be jarring, but it would surely anomalous and lack its distinctiveness. So, it is imperative to present the whole corpus, which is regarded as Odishi music over centuries, as an organised and disciplined human activity. Then only it would acquire the merit for recognition as a scientific and logical activity. Science is objective and universal because of certain rules and procedures. It is grammar that sets the procedures in ordered and sequential manner for the right result. It is grammar that further ensures logical consistency and rigour in the activity. When this is done, it becomes plain and easy to distinguish good music from not-good, whoever performs it and wherever it is performed.

Although the tradition of Odishi music is as old as Indian music, it has not been accorded official recognition of classical music even as two traditions - Hindustani (broadly the North) and Karnataki (broadly the South) - have been accorded such recognition not on the basis of any academic criteria save socio-political hangovers of the past. It is astonishing all the more that Odishi dance which is the flip side of Odishi music has long since been accorded the official recognition. The sole reason is the lack of its grammar in a viable form.

In physical science, whosoever combines in the laboratory two hydrogen atoms to one oxygen atom, a drop of water is produced. No subjective factor is involved here. When we talk of production of music, exactly a similar situation cannot be expected to prevail. The reason is that there are four aspects in the production of music, namely, magnitude, pitch, intensity and timbre. Out of these, the first three, magnitude, pitch and intensity, are objective, whereas the last one, timbre, is subjective. The timbre of the voice of a person is endowed by nature and is distinctive of him. It is said that style is man. The style of the singer is his/ her own and it would remain so. The objective factors are sought to be organised by rules of grammar. These could be quantified and measured. Quantification makes the activity free from subjectivity.

The grammar of Odishi music was not yet available in a neat and complete shape in the print mode to function as a guide to students, teachers, researchers and practitioners of Odishi music. If the grammar is not neatly formulated, the output cannot be objectively evaluated as the right one. Mere copying of the rendition of the master singer in respect of magnitude, pitch and intensity with some musical instruments to play along would not do. Clapping, ovation and commendation following a rendition on stage would not do. That is emotional, which flits away, as that is an outcome of many subjective factors. What would do for proper evaluation and its stabilisation is a grammar of Odishi music.

Everybody, who sings by imitation or otherwise, cannot lay down the grammar of the piece or of its kind and spell out its distinctive nature very much as everybody cannot make out a map of the way he/she travels from his/her place in Odisha to the national capital Delhi. It is a cartographer, who can draw out the map neatly and proficiently. Similarly, it is the scientist of music, that is, a musicologist, who can formulate the grammar of music. Amusicologist is, obviously, different from and more than a musician.

Theory of music comes from the practice of music, which is not yet organised. When a theory is formulated, it comes down to the level of practice to articulate it and put it in order. The adage goes that practice makes it perfect. This only means that normative and canonical practice, not non-criterial and non-standard one, is the sole path to perfection.

Dr. Kirtan Narayan Parhi is a musicologist of established fame. It is unique of him that he practices and articulates the theory of Odishi music. He has formal education in music and is a recognised artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan. What is important is that he has spent tireless years to investigate into the length and breadth of Odishi music by going deep into many sources, palm-leaf manuscripts and published books, old and new, in Sanskrit, English and Odia, of Indian music composed by masters of music over centuries, so far categorised as Hindustani and Karnataki. Dr. Parhi has already authored a good number of books, both in Odia and English, delineating the distinctiveness and rich heritage of Odishi music. All these have provided the most needed study material for students of Odishi music at various stages in music institutes of Odisha.


Dr. Kirtan Narayan Parhi is a thorough-going researcher in Odishan culture, Odia language and Odishi music. The present book The Classicality of Odishi Music embodies the fruits of his long years of research in Odishi music. This is a highly commendable work, which, I sincerely hope, would help fulfill the demand for- classical status of Odishi music. This is awaited long since the grant of classical status to Odishi dance and Odia language. Dr. Parhi has gone into many authoritative works of Sanskrit, Odia and English on Indian music and Odishi music for bringing out this volume, which is unique of its kind on Odishi music written in English language. India has listened to Odishi music since long with appreciation and applause; it would now get to know the nature, essential features and the grammar of Odishi music by getting this well-planned and well-timed book.

The present title is a product of dedication and involvement. Dr. Parhi is a performer himself and he is working extensively for propagation of Odishan culture in general and Odishi music in particular. He provided seminal material for preparing the document that was submitted by the Government of Odisha to the Ministry of Culture, Government of India seeking grant of classical status to Odia language. In this background, his The Classicality of Odishi Music is all the more authentic.

I hope that this would be a basic book for all the learners and researchers of Odishi music and it is my sincere wish that the book be widely circulated and appreciated by peers of all traditions of Indian music.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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