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History of Hindu Music

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Item Code: NAV155
Author: S.M. Tagore
Publisher: Sanjay Prakashan
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9789388107129
Pages: 288
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 560 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

A treastise on the music of hindustan is a desideratum which has not yet been supplied although several eminent orientalists have endeavoured to penetrate this elegent branches of indian science; Scarcely any parts of it has been elucidated or rendered familiar to fill; How far I have succeeded in an undertaking so difficult (for reasons which shall presently appear); It is for the public to determine.


The increasing interest which has of late been evinced by the Public in the Music of India, has led me to bring out the edition of this work. I have incorporated with this a further collection of the views of foreign writers on History of Hindu Music. As I have already published of Dissertation on Indian Music under the designation of "Six Principal Ragas of the Hindus," I have thought it unnecessary to give in this work my own views on the subject, such as I had promised to do, while bringing out the edition.

My acknowledgments are due to the learned writers, extracts from whose works form that subject.


By music minds and equal temper know,

Nor swell too high nor sink too low;

Warriors she fires with animated sounds,

Pours balms into the bleeding lover's wounds.


Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung,

Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue.


A Treatise on the Music of Hindustan is a desideratum which has not yet been supplied. Although several eminent Orientalists have endeavoured to penetrate this elegant branch of Indian science, scarcely any part of it has been elucidated or rendered familiar to Europeans. It is this chasm which I have endeavoured to fill; how far I have succeeded in an undertaking so difficult (for reasons which shall presently appear), it is for the public to determine.

It is impossible to convey an accurate idea of music by words or written language; that is, the various degrees of acuteness or gravity of sounds, together with the precise quantity of the duration of each, cannot be expressed by common language, so as to be of any use to performers, and as the musical characters now in use, which alone can express music in the manner that could be desired, is a modern invention, of course all attempts to define music anterior to the invention of this elegant and concise method must have necessarily proved abortive.

How far the ancient philosophers of this country advanced towards the perfection of this science will appear in the course of this work; but as they were something similar to the awkward attempts made in Europe previous to the invention of the system now in use, they were insufficient for practice. The musical scale, invented by Magister Franco, and the time table, were both known here, and it only required a trifling degree of ingenuity to connect the one with the other, so that one individual character might instantly express both. This step was wanting, and it is this which has rendered all their treatises on music an unintelligible and almost useless jargon.

During the earlier ages of Hindustan, music was cultivated by philosophers and men eminent for polite literature, for whom such general directions and rules for composition sufficed, after a course of musical education acquired from living tutors; indeed, the abhorrence of innovation, and veneration for the established national music, which was firmly believed to be of divine origin, precluded the necessity of any other; but when, from the theory of music, a defection took place of its practice, and men of learning confined themselves exclusively to the former, while the latter branch was abandoned entirely to the illiterate, all attempts to elucidate music from rules laid down in books, a science incapable of explanation by mere words, became idle. This is the reason why even so able and eminent an Orientalist as Sir William Jones has failed. Books alone are insufficient for this purpose—we must endeavour to procure solutions from living professors, of whom there are several, although grossly illiterate. This method, although very laborious, and even precarious, seems to be the only one by which any advance can be made in so abstruse an undertaking. Should the public consider this work as at all conducive to the end to which it achieves to aspire, it is the intention of the author to lay before them specimens of original Rags and Raginees, set to music, accompanied with short notices, which will serve to elucidate the facts advanced in this book.

The causes which induced a defection of the theory from the practice of music in Hindustan will be developed in the course of the work, and it is sufficient here to notice that such a defection has actually taken place, and that a search for one versed both in the theory and practice of Indian music would perhapes prove as fruitless as that after the philosopher's stone. The similitude will hold still further if we take the trouble to second our search with due caution, for there are many reputed Kemiagurs in this country, all of whom prove themselves to possess no more knowledge of the auriferous art, than the reader can himself possibly be possessed of.

A taste for the classics is imbibed by us from our school education. No philologer will, 1 believe, deny that impressions contracted in early infancy, or tender age, will, if possible, be effaced with the greatest difficulty.

It is therefore hard for us to divest ourselves of the idea that whatever is of Greek or Egyptian origin must be deserving of respect and imitation. The near connection between poetry and music should not be forgotten. To the antiquarian such researches afford of two- fold interest. From this source should be derived that veneration for ancient music which all classical scholars entertain, and for which several have laboured.

The similitude between the music of the classical nations and that of Hindustan has never, I believe, been traced, and the following labour will, I presume to hope, be productive of some fruit.

There is no doubt that harmony is a refinement on melody; but much modern music, divested of the harmony which accompanies it, presents to us its blank nudity, and want of that beauty which war- ranted the expression "and most adorned when adorned the least." Although I am myself very fond of harmony, and it cannot but be acknowledged that it is a very sublime stretch of the human mind, the reasoning on harmony will perhaps convince the reader that harmony is more conducive to cover the nakedness, than shew the fertility, of genius. Indeed, perhaps all the most beautiful successions of tones which constitute agreeable melody are exhausted, and this is the reason of the pooruess of our modern melody, and the abundant use of harmony, which however in a good measure compensates by its novelty. At the sane time, we are constrained to allow that harmony is nothing but art, which can never charm equally with nature. "Enthusiastic melody can be produced by an illiterate mind, but tolerable harmony laywas supposes previous study,"—a plain indication that the former is natural, the latter artificial.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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